|Purchase of dunes: the first step towards nature restoration along the Flemish coast|
Herrier, J.-L.; Killemaes, I.; Noels, C. (2005). Purchase of dunes: the first step towards nature restoration along the Flemish coast, in: Herrier, J.-L. et al. (Ed.) Proceedings 'Dunes and Estuaries 2005': International Conference on nature restoration practices in European coastal habitats, Koksijde, Belgium 19-23 September 2005. VLIZ Special Publication, 19: pp. 55-68 + maps
In: Herrier, J.-L. et al. (Ed.) (2005). Proceedings 'Dunes and Estuaries 2005': International Conference on nature restoration practices in European coastal habitats, Koksijde, Belgium 19-23 September 2005. VLIZ Special Publication, 19. Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ): Oostende. XIV, 685 pp., more
In: VLIZ Special Publication. Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ): Oostende. ISSN 1377-0950, more
Budget; Dune purchase; Property structure; Legal arsenal
|Authors|| || Top |
- Herrier, J.-L., more
- Killemaes, I., more
- Noels, C.
In 1997 only 1022ha of the remaining 3800ha of coastal dunes was owned by the Flemish Region. The other 2778ha were mostly private property of real estate development firms, large landowners, individuals and, to a lesser degree, public owned by water collection companies, the Ministry of Defence and a couple of municipalities. The then public owned dunes of the Flemish Region were divided as follows among the different administrations of the Ministry of the Flemish Community: 522ha under competence of the Nature Division, 350ha under that of the Waterways and Coast Division and 150ha under that of the Forestry Division. Most of the areas owned by the Nature Division were already purchased between 1956 and 1990. Lack of personnel, funds and strategic perspective prevented the Flemish Region to pursue an active policy of land purchase along the coast. In 1996 an 'Acquisition Plan for the Coastal Dunes' was drawn up by the Group for Applied Ecology of the University of Antwerp under the supervision of the Nature Division. Parliamentary initiatives, following a political debate organised in the frame of the Life nature project 'ICCI', led to the creation of an 'instrument for the acquisition of coastal dunes' by decision of the Flemish government of 3 February 1998. Since 1998 the 'Instrument for the acquisition of coastal dunes' consists of two members of staff, that were added to the Nature Division, and a special article on the budget of the Flemish government. This budgetary article received an initial annual endowment of EUR 1,735,255 in 1998, EUR 3,222,616 in 1999 and EUR 4,462,083 for each year between 2000 and 2004. That initial endowment has been reduced to EUR 2,546,000 in 2005. A weakness in this financing system is that the possibly annually remaining budget cannot be transferred to the budget of the next year, so that no strategic fund can be built up. The active prospecting by the staff of the Acquisition Instrument has allowed the Nature Division to purchase 480ha of dunes between 1998 and 2004. Nearly all these acquisitions were realised with agreement of the former owner. In execution of the Decree of 21 October 1997 concerning Nature Conservation and the Natural Environment, the right of pre-emption of the Flemish Region has been introduced in most of the legally protected areas of Flanders. In the coastal zone however this right of pre-emption has not led to spectacular results, because of a very strongly fragmented property structure and high ground prices due to land speculation. Although the Acquisition Instrument has obtained very good results, a long way still has to be gone before the goal of public ownership of all remaining coastal dunes will be achieved. Essential improvements of the financial and legal instruments for the purchase of dunes should be the creation of a strategic financial fund, an actualisation of the since long outdated expropriation act and improvement of the right of pre-emption for conservation purposes to be able to fend off land speculation.