During the Green and Blue futures project, the province of West-Flanders has professionalised the way we are working with volunteers. We count on our volunteers for three sub projects
After their hibernation, amphibians travel to the pond to reproduce. Given the specific landscape in Mid-West-Flanders (very densely populated and a lot of roads), huge amounts of animals are killed by cars. During previous years we have been able to localise hotspots where a lot of animals get killed. In these places, fences are installed during the month of February and March. Amphibians get stuck behind the fences and twice a day volunteers transfer them to the other side of the road. By doing this, we rescue the animals, get the volunteers involved in their region and we are able to monitor the population dynamics.
Another way to gather information about amphibian populations in the region is to monitor the ponds that are located within our working area. In order to so, after the crossing period, our volunteers investigate the quality of the ponds and which animals are living in it. This research has two goals. To study the presence of ponds (a lot have disappeared during the last 40 years), their quality and to search for “red list species”. A lot of knowledge about migration patterns is available in scientific literature. Combining this with the result from our monitoring we will be able to focus our efforts and create better conditions for these endangered species.
Willows are not endangered species, but their presence in our landscape is decreasing a lot. The bigger scale in which agriculture is performed and the specific form of agriculture (vegetables growing) does not fit well with these small landscape elements. Moreover, their maintenance is very labour intensive. They are however very important, both for the landscape but also a lot of other species are associated with these trees. In order to keep them in our landscape we have gathered a pool of volunteers that are willing to coppice the willows. In return they receive the wood. The province is responsible for recruiting the volunteers, gather locations where willows can be coppiced, foresee an insurance, organise education for the volunteers. The final part of this subproject is stimulating to plant new willows by providing free plant materials.
Links to the website of the coppicing teams [all NL] :
- Directed to the public in order to find volunteers or locations: http://www.westvlaamsehart.be/knotten-van-bomen-door-vrijwilligers.html
- Directed to the public to stimulate them to plant new willows: http://www.westvlaamsehart.be/bewilghetlandschap.html
- Directed to the volunteers to reserve a location, insurance info, other documents: http://www.westvlaamsehart.be/knotploeg.html
For the several sub projects, e-zines are sent [NL]