Second National Report of Belgium
to the Convention on Biological Diversity

Introduction


Please provide the following details on the origin of this report
Contracting Party Belgium
National Focal Point
Full name of the institution: Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)
Name and title of contact officer: Dr J. Van Goethem, Head of Department
Mailing address: Department of InvertebratesVautierstraat 29B-1000 BrusselsBelgium
Telephone: +32-2-627 43 43
Fax: +32-2-627 41 41
E-mail: jackie.vangoethem@naturalsciences.be
Contact officer for national report (if different)
Full name of the institution: Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)
Name and title of contact officer: Mr Marc Peeters, Assistant-adviser
Mailing address: Department of InvertebratesVautierstraat 29B-1000 BrusselsBelgium
Telephone: +32-2-627 45 65
Fax: +32-2-627 41 41
E-mail: marc.peeters@naturalsciences.be
Submission
Signature of officer responsible for submitting national report: Ms Magda Aelvoet, Federal Minister for Consumers interests, Health and Environment
Date of submission: 31 October 2001

Please provide summary information on the process by which this report has been prepared, including information on the types of stakeholders who have been actively involved in its preparation and on material which was used as a basis for the report


05.10.2000. During the 14th plenary meeting of the Steering Committee 'Biodiversity Convention' , members were informed on COP decision V/19 regarding the drafting of the Second National Report of Belgium to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

14.02.2001. 16th plenary meeting of the Steering Committee 'Biodiversity Convention': establishment of a contact group aiming to develop the second national report and consisting of experts and representatives of federal and regional departments directly involved in the reporting process.

06.03.2001. First formal meeting of the contact group 'National reporting': determination of the adequate redaction methodology for, and format of, the second national report. For this purpose, a consensus was reached upon the use of the questionnaire developed by the CBD-Secretariat and recommended in decision V/19 of COP-5.

March-April 2001. Written consultation round through which all stakeholders (experts and departments not represented during contact group meeting, scientific institutions, private sector, non-governmental organisations, etc.) were invited to contribute on the basis of the questionnaire.

19.04.2001. Second formal meeting of the contact group 'National reporting': based on compiled written contributions received before the meeting and oral contributions of the participants during the meeting, the questionnaire was completed as much as possible. Due to the appropriate meeting organisation (big screen projection and on-line completion of questionnaire), all 377 questions were discussed or at least quoted.

End of April 2001. Based on all oral and written contributions, a first version of the second national report was widely disseminated. The members of the CCIEP-groups 'Biodiversity Convention', 'Nature', 'Forests', 'Agriculture and environment', 'Trade and environment' and 'Biosafety', the experts of the thematic contact groups such as 'Ecosystem approach' and 'Impact assessment, liability and redress' and all the persons who already made some kind of contribution received this first version and were asked to further complete the questionnaire, to make additional notes, to give comments, etc.

June 2001. Based on the resulting contributions, comments and suggestions, a second version of the national report was developed. This version was placed on the Belgian Clearing-House Mechanism (B CHM) website as a consultation draft giving the opportunity to all stakeholders to transmit final comments and contributions to the National Focal Point. The final version was submitted for approval to the CCIEP and the Interministerial Conference for the Environment. After approval, the official final version was published as a paperback on 31.10.2001 and placed on the B CHM in replacement of the consultation draft.

The following persons and organisations contributed to the report:

Dieter Anseeuw
Institute for Forestry and Game Management
Duboislaan 14
B-1560 Hoeilaart
Moussa Badji
Royal Museum for Central Africa
Leuvensesteenweg 13
B-3080 Tervuren
Geoffrey Bailleux
Ministry of Economical Affairs
Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 16
B-1000 Brussels
Pascal Baute
Directorate General for Natural Resources and Environment
Ministry of the Walloon Region
Avenue Prince de Liège 15
B-5100 Namur
Charles-Hubert Born
Université catholique de Louvain
Place Montesquieu 2
B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Etienne Branquart
Directorate General for Natural Resources and Environment / Belgian Biodiversity Platform
Ministry of the Walloon Region
Avenue Prince de Liège 15
B-5100 Namur
Didier Breyer
Institute for Public Health
Rue Juliette Wytsman 14
B-1050 Brussels
Jos Buys
Directorate-General for International Co-operation
Brederodestraat 6
B-1000 Brussels
Abigail Caudron
Belgian Biodiversity Platform
RBINS
Vautierstraat 29
B-1000 Brussels
Els Coart
Agricultural Research Centre Ghent
Caritasstraat 21
B-9090 Melle
Xavier Coppens
Nature Division
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Gebr. Van Eyckstraat 4-6
B-9000 Ghent
Rene Custers
Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology
Rijvisschestraat 120
B-9052 Ghent
Luc De Bruyn
Institute of Nature Conservation
Kliniekstraat 25
B-1070 Brussels
Karen De Roo
Institute of Nature Conservation
Kliniekstraat 25
B-1070 Brussels
Carl De Schepper
Forests and Green Spaces Division
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Koning Albert II-laan 20
B-1000 Brussels
Wilfrieda Decraemer
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
B-1000 Brussels
Han de Koeijer
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
B-1000 Brussels
Philippe Desmeth
Belgian Co-ordinated Collections of Micro-organisms
Place Croix du Sud 3
B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Gommaar Dubois
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Karmelietenstraat 15
B-1000 Brussels
Anne Franklin
National Focal Point to the CBD
RBINS
Rue Vautier 29
B-1000 Brussels
Machteld Gryseels
Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment
Gulledelle 100
B-1200 Brussels
François Guissart
Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs
Rue de la Science 8
B-1000 Brussels
Rudy Herman
Science Division
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Boudewijnlaan 30
B-1000 Brussels
Marc Herremans
Royal Museum for Central Africa
Leuvensesteenweg 13
B-3080 Tervuren
Francis Kerckhof
Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North sea
3de en 23ste Linieregimentsplein
B-8400 Ostend
Marc Lateur
Agricultural Research Centre Gembloux
Rue de Liroux 4
B-5030 Gembloux
Christian Laurent
Directorate General for Natural Resources and Environment
Ministry of the Walloon Region
Avenue Prince de Liège 15
B-5100 Namur
Eddy Loosveldt
Division for General Environmental and Nature Policy
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Koning Albert II-laan 20
B-1000 Brussels
Els Martens
Nature Division
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Koning Albert II-laan 20
B-1000 Brussels
Jan Mees
Flanders Marine Institute
Victorialaan 3
B-8400 Ostend
Catherine Mertens
Federal Council for Sustainable Development
Rue des Aduatiques 71-73
B-1040 Brussels
Hendrik Neven
Land Division
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Koning Albert II-laan 20
B-1000 Brussels
Alain Pauly
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Rue Vautier 29
B-1000 Brussels
Marc Peeters
National Focal Point to the CBD
RBINS
Vautierstraat 29
B-1000 Brussels
Geert Pillu
Division for General Environmental and Nature Policy
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Koning Albert II-laan 20
B-1000 Brussels
Anne-Marie Pironnet
Ministry of Small Enterprises, Traders and Agriculture
Simon Bolivarlaan 30
B-1000 Brussels
René Poismans
Ministry of Small Enterprises, Traders and Agriculture
Simon Bolivarlaan 30
B-1000 Brussels
Marc Pollet
Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders
Bischoffsheimlaan 25
B-1000 Brussels
Jan Rammeloo
National Botanic Garden of Belgium
Domein of Bouchout
B-1860 Meise
Guido Rappé
National Botanic Garden of Belgium
Domein of Bouchout
B-1860 Meise
Pierre Rasmont
University of Mons-Hainaut
Avenue Maistriau 19
B-7000 Mons
Monika Sormann
Science Division
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Boudewijnlaan 30
B-1000 Brussels
Jan Stuyck
Institute for Forestry and Game Management
Gaverstraat 4
B-9500 Geraardsbergen
Jurgen Tack
Institute of Nature Conservation / Belgian Biodiversity Platform
Kliniekstraat 25
B-1070 Brussels
Guy Teugels
Royal Museum for Central Africa
Leuvensesteenweg 13
B-3080 Tervuren
Patrick Van Damme
Ghent University
Coupure Links 653
B-9000 Ghent

 

Koen Van Den Berge
Institute for Forestry and Game Management
Gaverstraat 4
B-9500 Geraardsbergen
Nathalie Van den Bossche
Cabinet of the Minister for Economy and Scientific Research
Square de Meeûs 23
B-1000 Brussels
Ines Van den houwe
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Kasteekpark Arenberg 13
B-3001 Leuven
Aline van der Werf
Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs
Rue de la Science 8
B-1000 Brussels
Jackie Van Goethem
National Focal Point to the CBD
RBINSVautierstraat 29
B-1000 Brussels
Bart Van Impe
Europe and Environment Division
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Koning Albert II-laan 20
B-1000 Brussels
Wouter Van Landuyt
Institute of Nature Conservation
Kliniekstraat 25
B-1070 Brussels
Geertrui Van Overwalle
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Minderbroedersstraat 5
B-3000 Leuven
Luc Van Puyvel
deTibotec (private sector)
Generaal de Wittelaan 11 / 3
2800 Mechelen
Jos Van Slycken
Institute for Forestry and Game Management
Gaverstraat 4
B-9500 Geraardsbergen
Elke Vanwildemeersch
Europe and Environment Division
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Koning Albert II-laan 20
B-1000 Brussels
Griet Vergauwe
Ministry of Small Enterprises, Traders and Agriculture
Simon Bolivarlaan 30
B-1000 Brussels
Koen Verlaeckt
Science Division
Ministry of the Flemish Community
Boudewijnlaan 30
B-1000 Brussels
Ines Verleye
Cabinet of the Federal Minister for the Environment
Kunstlaan 7
B-1210 Brussels
Hugo Verreycken
Institute for Forestry and Game Management
Duboislaan 14
B-1560 Groenendaal - Hoeilaart

Please provide information on any particular circumstances in your country that are relevant to understanding the answers to the questions in this report


1. Geographical notes

Belgium is situated in the west of Europe, bordered by the North Sea, the Netherlands, Germany, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and France. Although a small country (30,528 km2), its location favoured its past and actual position as an economic and urban nerve centre of Europe. Belgium has a mild temperate wet climate, the south-eastern parts of the country (High Ardennes, Eiffel) nevertheless display features of a slightly more continental climate. Belgium offers a diversity of sites and landscapes due to its very long, eventful geological history, as well as the widely varying - at first glance almost imperceptible - climatic conditions from one region to another. At the end of 2000 Belgium had a population of 10,239,000 inhabitants. The population density reaches 335 inhabitants per square kilometer, which makes Belgium, together with the Netherlands, one of the most densely populated countries in Europe. The gross national product (GNP) of Belgium for 1998 amounts to 9,189 billions BEF. The greatest part of the GNP comes from the tertiary sector, employing the largest part of the working population. Geographically Belgium shows three major areas: Lower Belgium (up to 100 m above sea level), Middle Belgium (between 100 and 200 m above sea level) and Upper Belgium (from 200 to over 500 m above sea level).

2. Biological diversity

The diversity of the physical environment has resulted in an equally great biological diversity. The vast majority of components of the actual fauna and flora, roughly estimated at more than 40,000 species, colonised Belgium after the last glaciation, some 12,000 years ago. During the last 100 years, wildlife, plants, and ecological processes have been threatened by pollution of water, air and soils, intensive agricultural practices, fragmentation of nature areas, etc. A significant number of wild species has disappeared. This is particularly well-documented for higher plants, vertebrates, various insect groups, spiders and non-marine molluscs. In recent years, a recovery of formerly declining populations in various groups has been observed, most probably as a result of many conservation regulations and actions.

3. Political framework

Belgium gained its independence in 1830. In recent years, the country has rapidly evolved, through four sets of institutional reforms (in 1970, 1980, 1988-89 and 1993) into a federal structure. A fifth one is currently under process. As a result, the first article of the Belgian Constitution states nowadays: "Belgium is a Federal State which consists of Communities and Regions" (see Fig. 1). The redistribution of competences followed two broad lines. The first line of reforms concerns linguistic matters and, more broadly, everything related to culture. Thus Belgium has three Communities today, based on language: the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German-speaking Community. The second line of the State reform is historically inspired by economic concerns, expressed by Regions who wanted to have more autonomous power. This gave rise to the founding of three Regions: the Flemish Region, the Brussels Capital Region and the Walloon Region. To some extent Belgian Regions are similar to the German 'Länder' or the Swiss cantons. The country is further divided into 10 provinces (since 1 January 1995) and 589 communes or cities.

Fig. 1 - Belgium, a Federal State which consists of Communities and Regions Because of these reforms, Belgium has a very distinct and unusual character. Under the level of the Federal Government are situated two lower levels of government: that of the Regions and that of the Communities, each with their own parliament and government. Since 1980, nature conservation is a shared responsibility of the Federal Government and the Regions. The Federal State level retains important areas of competence including: foreign affairs, defence, justice, finances, social security, important sectors of public health and domestic affairs, etc. The Regions are inter alia competent in the fields of nature and water management, land zoning and nature conservation, spatial planning and public works. Furthermore the Regions and Communities are entitled to run foreign relations in those areas where they are competent. Although nature conservation policy is mostly a regional matter, co-ordination bodies, under the authority of the Federal Minister for Environment, are in charge of its international aspects. For environmental matters the federal co-ordinating body is the Co-ordinating Committee for International Environmental Policy (CCIEP), composed by representatives of all the federal and regional competent administrations. This body functions under the high level authority of the Interministerial Conference for the Environment (ICE), chaired by the Federal Minister for Environment.

4. Belgium and the Convention on Biological Diversity

Belgium signed the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on 5 June 1992, during the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro). Due to the fourth set of the institutional reform (1993) the ratification process was complex. The instrument of ratification of Belgium was deposited at the United Nations in New York on 22 November 1996. Belgium became hence a Contracting Party to the Convention on that day. In pursuance of Art. 36, point 3, of the Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity entered into force for Belgium on 20 February 1997. In July 1995, the CCIEP designated the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) as the National Focal Point for the follow-up of the CBD. Several steering committees are currently operating under the direct authority of the CCIEP, one of these is the Steering Committee 'Biodiversity Convention'. Concerning the terms of reference for this Steering Committee, priority was given to the preparation of the First National Report and of a Country Study on Biological Diversity. The Steering Committee has also a more political function concerning the preparatory, participatory and negotiation activities related to the CBD process. As mentioned above, the implementation of Article 6 of the Convention on Biological Diversity is mostly a Regional competence. The objectives, strategies and action plans of the Regions are reflected by detailed information in relevant text boxes. However, several federal bodies also have an important role in the achievement of the aims of the Convention. These federal bodies are mainly the Ministry for Consumers interests, Health and Environment, the Ministry for Economy and Scientific Research, the Ministry for Agriculture and Middle Classes, and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation. Since the Convention on Biological Diversity does not afford particular attention to urban biodiversity, the implementation of the Convention in urban areas, such as the Brussels Capital Region, is not evident. At times were almost half of the world's population lives in urban areas, a debate on urban biodiversity has become inevitable. Not only cities are suitable for a high level of biodiversity, recent development has also shown that suburban areas often have richer biodiversity than the surroundings of agricultural areas.

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