A Simple Solution to Make the Leopold Park Pond Healthy Again



Plants will be planted in these gabions. (photo: Jérôme Constant)
A Simple Solution to Make the Leopold Park Pond Healthy Again
post by
Jonas Van Boxel

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences wants to bring back biodiversity in the neighbouring Leopold Park by rehabilitating a natural bank around the pond.

The pond at the Leopold Park, which is right next to our Institute, is in bad shape. Invasive species like the Egyptian goose and the painted turtle dominate the ecosystem. Native insect and snail species have become poorly represented as a result. The culprit? The brick wall that surrounds the pond. Shore plants, essential for the wellbeing of the ecosystem, have no place to grow.

The replacement of a shore by a wall affects the aquatic fauna and flora as well, says Jérôme Constant (RBINS): 'According to a study by our colleague René-Marie Lafontaine in 2013, the pond of Woluwe Park is home to 23 dragonfly species. The Leopold Park pond is only a 10 minute drive away, but contains only 14 species. This is due to a lack of a suitable habitat there, especially for their larvae.'

Stone cages

RBINS and the City of Brussels came with a solution. Along 140 meters of the bank of the pond, gabions, sort of metal cages filled with stones, are being placed against the wall. Then plants will be planted in the gabions. When the plants, which used to be present in the valley of the Maalbeek, will grow, the biotope can recover.

Jérôme Constant expects short term results. 'A similar project in a park by the City of Namur was a big success: after only a few months, it was nearly impossible to see that the green banks were artificially implemented.' Plants will be added in Spring, along with signs on the observation platform to inform the public about the project.

The revegetation project is not the only biodiversity initiative in the Park. In 2013, a flower meadow was sown near the Emile Jacqmain school. There are also plans to install information signs telling stories about the remarkable trees in the park.

The revegetation is a project of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and the City of Brussels, executed in cooperation with the General Estates of Water in Brussels, and funded by the National Lottery.

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