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The project

Encouraging the multifunctionality of the forest rather than single production

Since July 2008, Wallonia has had a new forestry code. This integrates all of the functions of the forest, bringing together production, protection and conservation alongside other social, touristy and recreational aspects, which all arise directly from the notion of the forest. In fact, a majority of the Walloon and European forested regions are currently set aside for production.

The most commonly envisaged type of forestry plan is an even-aged forest of tall trees that is exploited at maturity.

The lack of a vertical structure in forested regions, of internal and external edges, of dead wood (fallen trees or standing wood) and of spatial heterogeneity cause the biodiversity of all of these constituents to become impoverished and can bring about the proliferation of destruction or disease.

The development and use of species or exotic varieties/clones are also factors in the reduction of biodiversity and this may be overcome by returning to tree species with longer rotations and those that are suitable for the local conditions.

An important component of forest biodiversity is currently put to one side since there are few suitable means for managing these environments: they are forest ponds and "mardelles" (type of sinkhole). Due to a great deal of pressure from the forest environment, closure of canopies, accumulation of organic matter and silting, these ponds are difficult to create, control or simply preserve within forested regions.

In order to encourage a more functional forest, the new forestry code and the "Management standards to encourage biodiversity in woods subject to the forestry plan" ( must be recommended to all types of managers and farmers. These documents include numerous measures that promote biodiversity, such as the conservation of a minimum amount of dead wood, the development of internal and external edges and open environments adjoining them.

The new forestry management practices will henceforth include numerous committees for the diversification of the specific composition and structure of the stand and will make recommendations on maintaining a good balance of wildlife populations and on establishing protected areas.

As part of this LIFE project, in areas that have the potential of becoming wetland environments, consideration will be given to the techniques that can be envisaged for the preservation, extension or re-creation of these fragile environments.

The implementation of these practices in the management of the areas included in the LIFE ELIA project is intended to be exemplary and will be used as a communication tool and a means for increasing awareness among private farmers.

The project