Buston Woods and Ponds

These small woods have an area of 5 hectares and are located in the middle of a residential area of Limelette, north of the center of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve.

Interest in the natural, recreational and cultural is growing here.

These woods are made up of a humid area, an alder forest, a large pond and two smaller ponds as well as old pools (fish farming).  The wooded high part area is an ideal site for children’s games.

With open access, the population is welcome to stroll along its paths and fish in its pond.  A reserve area was nevertheless bordered off around the pools and is unfortunately closed to the public.

Good living next to the woods

The Municipal Council wants to promote accessibility to the woods, but it also wants the area to remain a peaceful haven for the flora and fauna that live there, for its residents and its users.  Therefore, visitors, please respect nature and the residents. 


Access

Entry to the ponds and woods via Rue du Moulin à Eau in Ottignies.
The ponds are fenced in but a small gate grants free access.


Upgrading the site

These woods were considered for a long time by the residents to be the fishermen's woods.  Therefore, the district had a general disinterest in the area.

This is noted by the presence of garbage.  The community also lacked interest in doing something with the site since the fishermen seemed to be satisfied with the situation. 

To improve the site, the City entrusted the coordination of the project with the Environmental Works Department (represented by D. Hébrant, eco-adviser) and to the Nature Development Community Plan (represented by JCI Mangeot, nature ranger for UCL and administrator of the nonprofit organization “Popularization of the Lauzelle Woods”), by involving all of the concerned actors (residents, fishermen, the community…) in its management.

Since 2001, twice a year, all of the residents and fishermen are invited by the City and the PCDN to discuss the ecological management of the woods.  

Youth Participation

The development of the site was an ideal opportunity to get children and youth involved.  Children of the district (“Buston and the Environment” non-profit organization) and the youth of Nivelles, through the STAR program (Services-Work-Reparation-Action), periodically come help out in the Buston Woods.  They participated in the construction of a small island in the middle of the fishermen’s pond and made forty nest boxes that they placed throughout the forest.  They planted small and large fruit trees (gooseberry trees, male dogwoods) and the people of the neighborhood are welcome to help themselves.

Ornithological and botanical trails are available for residents –children and adults- and were organized in multiple starting locations, displaying the treasures and the potential of the woods.  A path adapted for people with reduced mobility should be made.  Information panels on the flora and fauna are dispersed throughout the forest. 

Watercress bed projects

In addition to participative management, the ecological management of the Buston Woods is excellent.  “We promote what is beautiful for nature and what it tells us to do.  Each tree that is cut is done so to let light penetrate the area and start life,” explains the forest ranger.  It is about recreating a true, natural environment, contrary to what is generally done in parks and squares.  Essentially indigenous plantings (trees, flowers, etc.) are chosen to ensure a large diversity.  Spraying is banned.
 
Three pools that have been long buried under the vegetation have been revived and will be developed to accommodate different ecosystems.  One will be mainly dedicated to batrachians; another will be developed into an aquatic nursery and the third into swamps.  To promote the reproduction of small animals and birds, a reserve was made around the pools, a space that is inaccessible to the public. 

Participative management allowed the integration of diverse features in these small 5-hectare woods, including fishing, information activities, social integration, ecology and the active participation of the residents.

Some examples of activities led in 2001

Spotlight on source areas

During vacation in 2001, some clearing of the humid areas was completed by members of the PCDN and district youth supervised by the “Buston and the Environment” non-profit organization.  Trees were felled to enhance the beautiful source areas, which were almost inaccessible and completely in the dark.

Developments to promote birds

Today, the woods are already a remarkable site for birds.  Here, one can particularly encounter a couple of kingfishers.  The goal is to promote nesting sites as much as possible.  Under the guidance of the youth coordination service, a floating island, completed using plastic bottles, will be placed on the large pond during vacation.  The hope is that this will embellish the pond, without disturbing the fishermen.  In Winter 2002 projects will include placing nest boxes in the woods.

Work for everyone

Projects in the humid area are still not done!  A second nature-walk will be organized upon our reassembly. At that time, already completed projects and those that remain to be completed in the fall will be presented: clearing of felled trees, completion of paths along humid areas…

A meeting with the players concerned also will be planned to review the developments to complete and to define what each person can contribute to complete these projects.

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