Environment of Belgium

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The environment of Belgium is generally affected by the high population density in most of the country. However, due to consistent efforts by the various levels of government in Belgium, the state of the environment in Belgium is gradually improving. This led to Belgium being ranked as one of the top 10 countries (9 out of 132) in terms of environmental protection trends, and to Belgium being ranked in 2012 as the 24th country out of 132 for environmental protection. However, water quality still suffers from a relatively low, yet increasing percentage of sewage waste-water treatment, and from historical pollution accumulated in sediments. Air quality is generally good to average, but is affected by emissions from traffic and house heating, and industrial air pollution blowing over from the neighbouring heavily industrialised Ruhr-area in Germany.[1] Biodiversity is lower in Flanders than in Wallonia because of population density and fragmentation of habitats, but efforts are being made to boost bio-diversity through connecting fragmented forests and national parks through wildlife crossing "ecoducts" such as in Kikbeek.[2]

Belgium moreover has one of Europe's highest waste recycling rates. In particular, the Flemish region of Belgium has the highest waste diversion rate in Europe. Almost 75% of the residential waste produced there is reused, recycled, or composted.[3][4]

Since the 1993 State Reform, the environment is a regional responsibility, with the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels-Capital Regions responsible for environmental matters in their respective territories. This has led to differences in legislation and separation of measurements and publication of statistics.


In Flanders, emission of non-methane-VOC has decreased from 200 kton in 1990 to around 100 kton in 2006, because of lower emissions from transport and industry. These two however remain the most important VOC polluters.[5]

Particulate matter emissions and environmental concentrations have decreased since 1995, but little improvement is visible since 2000. European Union targets for average daily PM10 concentrations in 2005 have not been met and a significant increase was seen in 2006 compared to 2005. The problem is mostly situated in cities and industrial areas.[5]

Total acidifying emissions have decreased very rapidly since 1990, but NOx still remains a problem. Half of NOx emissions are due to transport.[5]

Photo-chemical air pollution remains a problem. On hot summer days, ozone levels frequently surpass EU targets. In 2006, the average was 6970 ug/m3 while the EU target is 5800 ug/m3.[5]

Greenhouse gas emissions have fallen from 90 Mton CO2-eq in 2003 to 85 Mton CO2-eq in 2006. The Kyoto target for Flanders is 82.5 Mton during the period 2008-2012.[5]


Although Belgium still faces challenges such as river water pollution, on average, the water quality is improving quickly, mainly because of increasing waste-water treatment. In recent years, salmon and trout is seen again in Belgium's main rivers. Moreover, according to the EU Commission (2015 report), the water quality at the Belgian coast was ranked excellent in over two out of three locations (i.e. 17) where samples were taken.[1]


  • Polluted grounds


  • Noise hinder


Following the approach of the Netherlands, a Red List was created for Belgium.

In regards to the native fish species, a list can be found here. At present, 8 of the 12 migratory fish (found in Belgium's rivers) are threatened. These include Coregonus oxyrinchus, Coregonus lavaretus, Alosa alosa, Acipenser sturio, Petromyzon marinus, Salmo salar, Alosa fallax, Salmo trutta trutta[6]

Protected areas[edit]

The pan-European ecological network Natura 2000 covers 428,908 hectares in Belgium, representing 12.6% of the land area and 12% of the territorial waters.[7]

Famous protected areas include the High Fens, Belgium's first national park, and the Hoge Kempen National Park, which is the newest national park in Belgium, and opened in 2006.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "OECD Better Life Index". www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org. Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  2. ^ "Ecoduct Kikbeek - Wikimapia". wikimapia.org. Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  3. ^ "Belgium Hosts Europe's Best Recycling and Prevention Program". Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit. Retrieved 2016-04-09. 
  4. ^ "UN Belgium Waste Management Report" (PDF). Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Marleen Van Steertegem (2003). MIRA-T 2007 Indicatorraport. Aalst: Vlaamse Milieumaatschappij. 
  6. ^ Verrekijker magazine, september 2012
  7. ^ "Protected areas". Convention on Biological Diversity - Belgian Clearing House Mechanism. Archived from the original on 2009-02-05. Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  8. ^ "First National Park opened – Milestone for Belgium’s Countdown 2010". countdown2010. 2006-03-23. Archived from the original on 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2008-09-18.