Because landscapes have no borders

One foot in Belgium, the other in France, the Hainaut Cross-border Natural Park (PNTH) constitutes one single territory. It benefits from joint management based on respect for and development of the landscape, natural habitats and local resources.

Additional tools

Print  
The RAVeL (réseau autonome de voies lentes) (independent network of slow routes), a canal with towpath located in the Hainaut Cross-border Natural Park, between Péronnes and Antoing, on the Belgian side.  © Samuel Dhote/PNRSE The RAVeL (réseau autonome de voies lentes) (independent network of slow routes), a canal with towpath located in the Hainaut Cross-border Natural Park, between Péronnes and Antoing, on the Belgian side. © Samuel Dhote/PNRSE

Since 1996 The Plaines de l’Escaut Natural Park (BE) has adjoined the Scarpe-Escaut Natural Park (FR), which was created in 1968. Cooperation between these two areas (75 000 hectares, 250 000 residents) is based on a unique development strategy: the 'cross-border charter'. The bodies responsible for the two entities – the Plaines de l’Escaut Natural Park management committee and the joint association of the Scarpe-Escaut Regional Natural Park – supervise its implementation.

General principles

The charter was drawn up in 2010 and has made it possible to adopt a unified approach to integrated management of the whole of the PNTH. For Michel Marchyllie, director of the Scarpe-Escaut Regional Natural Park, 'this is an approach that has sprung from the region itself, and which applies to the quality of life and the landscape; education in terms of the regional area, water management, nature, biodiversity, built heritage, planning and local and rural development. This perspective has both strengthened and diversified over the last 20 years. Political and technical governance makes sure that joint decisions are taken and applied.'

On the ground

During a period of more than 25 years, some 3 000 projects have been carried out to raise awareness of the environment, particularly within schools, families and associations (almost 40 000 children have participated in a large number of activities). Particular attention has been paid to the preservation of water resources, via planning methods on both sides of the border (blueprint for water planning and management on the French side and a river contract on the Walloon side). The pilot scheme 'Cross-border Landscape Observatory' has made it possible to monitor changes to the landscape right across the region over the last 10 years, using photography. The scheme has been particularly useful as a decision-making tool for ensuring harmony between the current and future landscapes.

In the same spirit, numerous initiatives have been implemented for the benefit of the public, teachers and visitors to the park (exhibitions, publication of postcards, photographs placed at the observatory site, nature trails and walking paths, etc.).

Information on all these activities is available on the PNTH website, which is very user-friendly and offers a wealth of information.

A way of working that could be rolled out?

The partners have also been working on a cross-border strategy, 'Objective 2022', which aims to create a ground-breaking legal framework applicable to other European cross-border natural parks. They have drawn upan inventory and a comparative analysis of their operating tools and laws. This analysis has just been completed and concludes that the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) could be the most suitable legal form for cross-border natural parks.

Total and EU funding

Total investment in the Hainaut Cross-border Natural Park project is EUR 4 997 300, and the contribution from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is EUR 2 430 750 for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date

24/06/2015