Busy traffic arteries cut through the Sonian Forest and fragment the forest into isolated patches:
the Brussels Ring Road, the E411, the railway between Brussels and Luxembourg, the Terhulpsesteenweg, the Duboislaan, the Tervuursesteenweg… They all prevent the forest inhabitants from travelling between the different areas. About fifty animals are killed each year by the busy traffic in the forest. This was revealed by monitoring that took place in the context of the ‘Dood doet Leven’ project.
The LIFE+ project OZON (= Defragmentation of Sonian Forest) aims to reconnect these ecological hotspots. To that end, more than ten wildlife crossings will be constructed during the next four years. The most spectacular is no doubt the wildlife bridge between Groenendaal and Waterloo, which should be finished in 2017.
Apart from this showpiece, many more other projects are in the pipeline. Tree bridges will be installed on two existing gantries and two new gantries will be built, including a tree bridge. The OZON partners are studying whether wildlife tunnels would be useful on the N275 between Terhulpen and Bosvoorde and on the Waterloosesteenweg. If this is the case, these will also be realised in the context of the LIFE+ project.
Safe passage for amphibians
In addition, the project tackles the existing culverts. These water-filled passageways under the Ring Road and the E411 date back to the sixties. Most of them are obstructed and need to be cleaned up. By improving the existing construction, amphibians and small mammals will be able to pass safely under the motorway as well. In order to encourage the animals to use the new wildlife crossings, wildlife fences and wildlife warning reflectors will be installed along the road.
Nature-friendly forest edges
Apart from these indispensable infrastructural interventions, forest edges and pond complexes are made more nature-friendly with additional open areas and shrub and edge vegetation. Moreover, the OZON project examines how recreation in the Sonian Forest can be steered so that animals can use the planned wildlife crossings in all tranquillity.