BNIP creates extra value for agricultural land near watercourses and raises awareness
Once widely present in Europe, alluvial forests have become rare, and their conservation state has deteriorated. Many threats weigh upon this habitat: drainage, filling, soil compaction and colonization by invasive alien species. The conservation state of this ecosystem has led to classify it as a priority habitat at a European level, according to the 1992 habitat directive. Alluvial forests host particularly interesting fauna and flora, depending on both aquatic and terrestrial environments, such as the otter or the kingfisher. In addition, through the root system of certain tree species, this afforestation provides hiding places, feeding and egg-laying sites for aquatic fauna.
In agricultural landscape, alluvial forests are present in the form of hedges along watercourses. These trees act as a “buffer” between the watercourse and the adjacent environment, limiting eutrophication of watercourses. In addition, these riparian hedges, through their linear structure, contribute to the ecological network. For farmers, riparian hedges have several direct advantages. It acts as a windbreak, protecting the livestock in pasture and limits the drying out of crops. It also limits erosion by stabilizing the riverbanks.
One of the objectives of the LIFE BNIP project is the plantation of 60 km of riparian hedges in agricultural areas in Wallonia. This mission, supervised by Natagriwal, enabled to create new AECM (agri-environment climate measures) allowing farmers to add value to their land bordering watercourses. It also enabled to promote the Walloon region’s planting funding and to raise awareness of farmers and watercourse managers to the importance of revegetating the banks. Following this objective, the public water management company is currently financing the plantation of riparian hedges in cropland. This funding and AECM will be maintained after the end of the LIFE BNIP project.