Also typical of this type of continental forest are the medlar and the elderberry, which we find in abundance here. Lower on the slope, mainly oak-hornbeam forests thrive with lots of ash and wild cherry, in which vine and ivy also flourish. In summer, marjoram and elderflower grow in sun-rich places, typical 'southerners' that form the ideal environment for the vineyard snail, the famous 'escargot de Bourgogne'. Alert animal lovers point to a lone buzzard in the sky or admire a kestrel that hangs motionless and 'prays'. They are easier to spot than the shy deer, foxes or badgers. Nevertheless, an observant nature lover can undoubtedly find traces and switches of these animals in the forest.
Due to climate differences compared to the rest of Flanders and the Netherlands, we find plants and animals in the Voer region that no longer occur further north. In addition, the subsoil is very calcareous in many places. However, the soil on top of the slopes is acidic and nutrient-poor. These are all factors that contribute to the fact that the fauna and flora in the Voer region show very specific traits.
This unique piece of nature reserve in Moelingen was purchased in 1996 by the services of Bos en Groen and Nature Conservation of the Flemish Community. It covers eleven hectares and borders the classified Langveld (Longchamps, in neighboring Walloon Berneau), which was also recognized as a nature reserve. The badger feels perfectly at home in the Berwijn valley because it finds everything to feed its offspring and itself. The nature reserve includes the only two hectares of forest in the Voeren borough of Moelingen, with a wide variety of native tree species such as cherry, ash, oak, linden and hornbeam. There are also some beautiful old standard orchards and old pollard willows along the banks of the Berwijn. In addition to inhabited badger setts, you will also find an ideal nesting area for all kinds of birds and waterfowl.
GEOLOGY OF THE VOER REGION
On those steep slopes, the Gulpense limestone emerges. The varying landscape here also shows old Meuse terraces (such as the slope of Snauwenberg), grasslands and standard orchards with pools, source areas, grafts, wooded edges, sunken roads, grubs or ditches and many rich deciduous forests. The combination of higher temperatures and calcareous soil leads to grasslands and hillside forests with a wide variety of southern plant species; after all, the Voer region lies on the transition from the Atlantic to the Central European plant district. The area owes plant species such as medlar and spray elder to Central Europe, while on the warm southern slopes varieties such as wild marjoram, elderberry, meadow crown, bristle wreath and fly orchid reach one of their northernmost locations...
Close to 'Dal', a neighborhood in the hamlet of Veurs (Sint-Martens-Voeren) known for its collection of typical half-timbered houses, the Flemish government agency Aminal purchased twenty hectares of nature reserve in 1998. Due to the exceptional fauna and flora, with its largely old standard orchards, forest edges, embankments and grafts, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and most important nature reserves in the Voer region. This is also an important foraging area for badgers. The new managers want to fully restore nature by planting standard fruit, pollard trees and hedges. Grafts are being reforested to accommodate badger setts, and at least two amphibian pools are being constructed. Thanks to intensive grazing management, the lime flora should once again be given full opportunities, so that orchids, among other things, can bloom again. Hawks, red kites, stone and tawny owls are in their element.
GEOLOGY OF THE VOER REGION
Since July 1, 1998, the Alserbos was officially opened to walkers. This nature reserve is owned by the Flemish Community, which has fully equipped it for this purpose. The entire area is fenced and the passages are only for passive recreationists (hikers). Mountain biking is allowed - but only via the middle road to make the shortcut. Riders and motor vehicles are prohibited. The Alserbos extends over an area of 65 hectares, from north to south, with an altitude of 160 to 240 meters above sea level. The western slope is very steep, leaving at the bottom of a deep, sunken road that follows a dry depression or "delle"; an environment where, among other things, the badger feels at home and has an ideal living and foraging area. It is the intention of the new managers to restore the original aspect of the western, steep slope. A nature reserve has been demarcated on the plateau itself, where afforestation can take place spontaneously.
Domein Altenbroek - a cross-border and contiguous nature reserve on the territory of 's-Gravenvoeren (Belgium) and Noorbeek (the Netherlands) - owes its name to a beautiful private castle domain in the middle of the area. In 1996, the (Flemish) non-profit organization Natuurreservaten and the (Dutch) Stichting Natuurmonumenten became owners of 160 hectares of Altenbroek: 135 hectares on Belgian territory and 25 hectares on Dutch territory. The exceptional landscape and natural wealth of the Voer region, and more specifically of Altenbroek, is a result of its eastern geographical location, its height above sea level and the remarkable composition of the subsoil. The Voer region also has a pronounced relief. Typical are the asymmetrical valleys, whose steep southwest-facing slopes receive much more solar radiation than the others.