River basin restoreation

River basin restoreation

In the heart of western Europe, on the Dutch-Belgian border, work began in 2007 on a major habitat restoration project. The 45-kilometre stretch of the river, which originated in the Ardennes as the Meuse and reached the Dutch plain at Maastricht, where it is now called the Meuse, has been restored to its natural state at great cost in terms of time and money. The 1200 hectare RivierPark Maasvallei (Meuse Valley River Park) on the border between the Netherlands and Flanders in Belgium is now one of the most attractive destinations for green tourism.

The most important part of the project was the separation of nature and agriculture, by buying up farms in the river basin and restoring them to their natural state. The farmers were convinced not only by the generous compensation, but also by the fact that the floods had made it very difficult to farm the land adjacent to the river. While the loss of agricultural jobs proved to be a temporary hardship, the development of tourism and recreation infrastructure and the development of cycling and water tourism is said to have created an order of magnitude more jobs. Moreover, property values have increased by more than 10 percent compared to similar areas in the two countries. Nijmegen, where the project was launched, was named European Green Capital in 2018.