Let’s be clear from the start: Belgium is not the wildest place on earth and, with one of the highest population densities in the world, we don’t have that many vast landscapes where nature can thrive. However, it would be a mistake to consider Belgium as a place devoid of all wildlife. Indeed, the southern half of the country is much less urbanized than its northern counterpart and flaunts some very pristine forests. Moreover, Belgium can also boast several very interesting natural parks that are worth mentioning here.
The Zwin is a nature reserve founded in 1952 and located on the North Sea. Its marshes and polders constitute an excellent spot for bird watchers. The emblematic bird of the park is the stork, which is seen very commonly over there.
In the eastern part of Belgium there is the High Fens, an area consisting mainly of moorland and forests. The flora and fauna of the Fens is very diverse: deer, elk, foxes, otters, boars, badgers, wildcats, batrachians, beavers and carnivorous plants are present in the park. Recently, there have been sightings of bobcats who might have crossed the border from Germany and reestablished themselves in a territory that they had disappeared from.
The forest of the Ardennes covers a very large area of Southern Belgium and its beautiful paths offer great opportunities for hikers and nature-lovers. This is where some of the most breathtaking views of Belgium can be found. The fauna is as diverse as it is in the Fens and sightings of animals are very common.
The United States has, of course, a much more diverse series of landscapes and can boast a rather impressive fauna. I’ve always been fascinated by bears, cougars, bison, wolves and all those huge animals that seem really exotic in most parts of southern Europe. I’m a bit sad I didn’t get to see any of them here–although it is probably safer to avoid encounters with them– but I’m glad I got to see animals that I would never be able to see in Belgium, such as hummingbirds or coyotes!
Our respective ‘wild-life’ is thus rather different but both have qualities that make them attractive and it would be sad to miss a hike in one of these areas if you ever go to Belgium!
The Ardennes, near Vielsalm in Belgium