Life - OZON - Restoration of natural habitats for critically endangered species by defragmentation of the Sonian Forest.

LIFE12 NAT/BE/000166

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Contact details:

Contact person: Yoeri BELLEMANS
Tel: 3226582460
Fax: 3226582468
Email: yoeri.bellemans@vlaanderen.be

Project description:


The Sonian Forest (Forêt des Soignes/Zoniënwoud) is a 4 421-ha forest in Belgium that is primarily within the administrative region of Vlaams Brabant (Flanders), as well as covering parts of south-east Brussels and Brabant Wallon (Wallonia). Roads and railways, however, run through the forest dividing wildlife populations. Monitoring of road kill of the most common species (e.g. roe deer and red foxes) shows that more 50 individuals die every year. Several protected species are found in the area: Daubenton's bat (Myotis daubentonii), Leisler's bat (Nyctalus leisleri), the European pine marten (Martes martes), ground beetle (Carabus coriaceus), palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus) and Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). Populations of critically-endangered species can be maintained or improved by using defragmentation techniques to restore their habitats.


The project aims to connect areas of the Sonian Forest with high ecological value by constructing wildlife crossings (such as underpasses, viaducts and culverts) and erecting fences to impede the access of wild animals to roads and rail lines. It also aims to protect forest biodiversity through nature-friendly and adapted forest management (e.g. the restoration of forest edges along the Brussels ring and the creation of open areas) and by redirecting recreation activities to less sensitive areas.

The project site covers 2 761 ha. The necessary measures have been or will be included in a new forest management plan. To achieve this objective, a partnership between the agency for nature and forests, the agency for roads and traffic, the Brussels Institute for Environmental Management, the department of environment and energy and the local government of Overijse and Hoeilaart has been formed.

Expected results: The project expects to achieve the following results:

  • Restoration and reconnection of relevant habitats by reinstalling ecological corridors to counteract the fragmentation of the Sonian Forest. This will enable movement between isolated patches of vulnerable species;
  • Extension of the populations of typical species of this forest;
  • At least a 90% reduction in road kill; and
  • Involvement of local residents in the conservation of Sonian Forest and its valuable European habitats and species.



Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Forests
Biodiversity issues - Ecological coherence


endangered species‚  animal corridor‚  forest ecosystem

Target species

 Alytes obstetricans   Barbastella barbastellus   Lucanus cervus   Martes martes   Mustela putorius   Myotis bechsteinii   Myotis emarginatus   Myotis myotis   Triturus cristatus 

Target Habitat types

  • 3150 - Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition - type vegetation
  • 4030 - European dry heaths
  • 6210 - Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)
  • 6230 - "Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)"
  • 6430 - Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
  • 6510 - "Lowland hay meadows (Alopecurus pratensis, Sanguisorba officinalis)"
  • 9120 - Atlantic acidophilous beech forests with Ilex and sometimes also Taxus in the shrublayer (Quercion robori-petraeae or Ilici-Fagenion)
  • 9130 - Asperulo-Fagetum beech forests
  • 9150 - Medio-European limestone beech forests of the Cephalanthero-Fagion
  • 9160 - Sub-Atlantic and medio-European oak or oak-hornbeam forests of the Carpinion betuli
  • 91E0 - "Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)"

Natura 2000 sites

SCI BE1000001 La Forêt de Soignes avec lisières et domaines boisés avoisinants et la Vallée de la Woluwe. Complexe 'Forêt de Soignes - Vallée de la Woluwe'
SCI BE2400008 Zoniënwoud



Coordinator Agentschap voor Natuur en Bos
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description Created in 2006, the Agency of Nature and Forests of the Flemish Ministry of Environment, Nature and Energy is the competent public authority in the Flemish Region for the execution of nature conservation and forestry policy and for the management of Flemish Nature Reserves and public-owned forests (total surface: 42 300 ha). It is responsible for the implementation of the Natura 2000 network in Flanders.
Partners Leefmilieu Brussel-Bruxelles Environnement(BIM-IBGE), Belgium Agentschap voor Wegen en Verkeer, Belgium


Project reference LIFE12 NAT/BE/000166
Duration 01-JUL-2013 to 30-JUN -2018
Total budget 6,716,040.00 €
EU contribution 3,358,020.00 €
Project location Vlaams Gewest(België - Belgique) Région Wallonne(België - Belgique) Bruxelles-Brussel(België - Belgique)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version