Forest and Nature Management

Indeed, the Capuchin Wood is home to a number of priority European habitats, of which the mixed Atlantic oak forest (European habitat 9160) is the most extensive and the most important. Management measures here are aimed at ecological improvement: Preservation of old trees with a large girth, maximum use of natural rejuvenation, an increase in the overall mass of dead wood, the development of gradually ascending forest edges (seam vegetation), soil-saving exploitation methods, etc. Wood can still be harvested in the forest, but the biennial forest thinnings remove far less wood by volume than the wood that grows in the forest during the same period. After all, periodic thinning is also necessary to give the best trees growing space. Clear cutting is only allowed on limited plots to convert exotic stands or allow oak to be rejuvenated -oak saplings need plenty of light to grow. Gradually, some of the exotic and homogenous stands of coniferous species will make way for the expansion of an ecologically richer, mixed native oak forest. Some stands, however, will be preserved because of their scenic value. 

With regard to the alleys, where single beeches drop out every year due to infestation by parasite fungi, a long-term plan has been conceived to systematically rejuvenate a few sections. Lacking such action, it is feared that the entire alley system would need to be replaced within a few decades. In the grasslands, crop management practices are applied to preserve and increase the ecological quality of the herbaceous layer (habitats 6510 Lowland hay meadows; 6230 Species-rich Nardus grasslands).

There are, in addition, ongoing special projects to promote natural development. On the Keienberg area, space has been set aside for an area of Brabant heather in combination with small groves of oak, birch and pine, which were previously common on sandy soils throughout the Sonian Forest (habitats 4030 Dry heaths, 6230 Species-rich Nardus grasslands, and 9190 Old acidophilous oak woods with Quercus robur on sandy plains). On the Voer Creek (Voervijver) site a project is underway to restore the open water pond. In combination with the existing marsh, the grove of Common alders and the hedged meadow, a scenic and species-rich natural area will be restored (habitats 3150 Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition-type vegetation, and 91E0 Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior).