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Brussels parks under pressure due to surge in visitors
During the pandemic a lot of Brussels citizens rediscovered the city's many green spaces. But that has had some unfortunate results: trampled flower beds, rogue paths through vegetation, overfilled rubbish bins and lots of rubbish.
In Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Malou Park, with its picturesque ponds and its wilderness areas, is a victim of its success. "The walkers have created the new paths", regrets Olivier Mingers, the person in charge of the municipality's green spaces. "People explore a little bit, they look for areas away from the crowd. This endangers the existing biotope."
The municipality, the owner of a part of the park, is trying to protect the understory vegetation off the paths, but it is not easy. This is because the zone is classified as "Natura 2000". To place barriers, a permit must be granted by the region.
"This requires long-term procedures," said Grégory Matgen, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert's environment alderman. "This does not allow us to act quickly. We can understand the status of the zone but, if we have to act urgently, we would appreciate some easing of requirements."
The City of Brussels maintains, among others, Osseghem Park, the Royal Park, Meudon Park and the Bois de la Cambre, with a staff of 200 gardeners. These last months, the bins are overflowing, and the rubbish is piling up.
"We had to quickly install new plastic bins that have much more capacity and are in showy colours," explained Zoubida Jellab, the city alderwoman in charge of green spaces.
"Often people order pizzas and food platters for park delivery and then they leave their rubbish where they picnicked. Our gardeners are stressed as they much prefer horticultural work to waste removal."
In the green spaces managed by the Brussels region, the cleanliness services have removed "more than 30 tonnes of additional waste compared to the year before," explained Alain Maron, Brussels' environment minister.