Altenbroek, a nature reserve across the border
Domain Altenbroek – a nature reserve that is situated across the border between ‘s-Gravenvoeren (Belgium) and Noorbeek (the Netherlands) – owes its name to a splendid private castle domain in the middle of the nature reseve. In 1996 the (Flemish) Nature reserves and the (Dutch) foundation Natuurmonumenten became the owners of 160 hectares of Altenbroek: 135 hectares on Belgian and 25 hectares on Dutch ground.
The exceptional landscape and natural wealth of the Voer region, and more precisely of Altenbroek, is the result of the eastern location, geographically speaking, the height above the sea level and the curious composition of the soil. The Voer region, moreover, has an outspoken relief. More specifically, the asymmetrical valleys, of which the steep, southern slopes receive much more sunshine than elsewhere.
On those steep slopes the Gulp has deposited chalk. The varied landscape also shows the remains of old terraces of the river Meuse (such as the slope of Snauwenberg), grasslands and tall tree orchards with pools, watersprings, gullies, hollow roads, ditches and numerous deciduous woods. The combination of higher temperatures and soil rich in lime has produced a great variety of southern plant species; the Voer region is situated on the crossover between the Atlantic and Middle Europian biotope or plant district.
The area owes plant species such as medlar and elderberry to Middle Europe, on the warm, southern slopes varieties such as wild marjory, danewort, field scabious, clinopodium vulgare and fly orchid reach their most northernly location.