Ministers Peeters and Demir kick off the eco-valley on N76 in Oudsbergen

Exactly two months after Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters and Flemish Minister for the Environment Zuhal Demir gave the go-ahead for the construction of the Waaltjesbos ecoduct in Lommel, today they together put the shovel into the ground for the eco-valley under the N76 in Oudsbergen, near the Zwartberg slag heap. Jan De Nul Group is building the eco-valley on behalf of De Werkvennootschap.

Flanders is fully committed to the construction of defragmentation measures, such as wildlife fencing, ecoducts, ecotunnels and -passages, etc. By practising 'defragmentation', Flanders wants to reconnect important nature areas along regional and motorways.

The 65-metre-wide eco valley should reconnect nature on both sides of the road. The N76 will be placed on pillars, allowing the landscape to pass under the road. The eco-grids placed along the road in 2021 will connect to the eco-valley on both sides. Thus, animals will find their way safely to the crossing point. The slopes of the valley also face south. This creates a warm microclimate, which is ideal for local flora and fauna.

Jan De Nul is responsible for the design, licensing and construction of the eco-passages and is assisted by engineering firm Sweco. The works on the eco-valley will last about a year and a half, until the summer of 2025.

Minister Lydia Peeters: "We want to do 'defragmentation' all over Flanders: reconnecting our important nature areas along regional and motorways. We do this with all kinds of measures. From wildlife fences to ecoducts, ecotunnels ... Here in Oudsbergen it will be an eco-valley no less than 65 metres wide. So we are very happy to be able to start the works today. Ecorasters and a wildlife detection system were already installed at this location in 2021 to increase traffic safety, but with the construction of the eco-valley the picture is now complete. In a few years, the nature reserves along the N76 will once again form one large entity. The further roll-out of these de-fragmentation measures should also prevent dangerous traffic situations involving crossing wildlife. This way, we also reduce injury accidents on our roads."

Minister Zuhal Demir: "In densely built Flanders, nature reserves are still far too fragmented, dividing them into many small islands. Thanks to projects like this eco-valley, we are turning the Hoge Kempen National Park, our pride in Limburg, back into one continuous whole. It gives a boost to biodiversity, greenery, liveability and road safety."

Geert Versweyveld, Operations Manager Civil Works at Jan De Nul Group: "We are delighted to kick off the second sustainable project in the province of Limburg today. In Lommel, the works for the Waaltjesbos ecoduct are already progressing nicely. Today we are starting this eco-valley in Oudsbergen. Both ecopassages are an example of how we give back space to fauna and flora in an urbanised area, in a way that is safe for people and nature. Together with our partner Sweco, we have designed a beautiful and future-oriented concept and we are already looking forward to handing over both projects to nature in 2025."


Thanks to funding from the European Union (NextGenerationEU) as part of the Flemish resilience project VV105 (de-fragmenting Flemish landscape), this project can also be implemented quickly.