Terrain shapes and bedrock
Belgium is mainly a low lying country, slowly rising from
the North Sea in the west and the Netherlands in the north
to the Ardennes in the south-east, which is the only
highland area. A number of topographical regions of
different designs can be distinguished.
The Flemish plain in the west has the nearest
8-16 km wide polder, which is dry land. It is protected by
dunes and ridges and is mainly covered by clay soil. The
inner part of the plain, which covers most of West and East
Flanders, has sandy soil. It is drained by the rivers
Schelde, Leie and Dendre, which collectively flow into the
Schelde estuary. A large number of channels run through the
area and unite the rivers.
COUNTRYAAH, the Kempen Plateau at the border with the
Netherlands at 50–100 m altitude forms an irregular water
divider between Scheldes and Maas river system. It is a
sandy area with vast moors. The inter-Belgian plateau
of 50–200 m in height is intersected by many rivers and has
soft landforms. It is partly covered by fertile, loose
The Ardennes foreland has its central part in
Condroz, a plateau of more than 300 m in height with a
series of valleys in the limestone between higher sandstone
ridges. A marked lowering, known as Fagne west of Maas and
Famenne east of it, separates this region from the actual
Ardennes. These are part of the hercynic mountain
range and form a plateau cut by the valley for Maas and its
tributaries. They consist mostly of Devonian rocks and reach
the highest in Botrange, 694 m above sea level. The higher
parts are poorly drained, which results in widespread
sinkers. South of the Ardennes lies Belgian Lorraine
with a series of slopes to the north. It is woody and has
minor iron ore deposits.
Belgium's climate is of a temperate, maritime type but is
affected in different parts by the distance to and altitude
over the sea. Air masses and frontal systems move from the
Atlantic to the east, which is why the weather conditions
are highly variable.
The annual rainfall is quite abundant, 750-1000 mm, and
is evenly distributed throughout the year. The annual
average temperature is 10 °C. Winters are mild and humid
and summers are cool. Brussels in the central part of the
country has an average temperature of 2.2 °C in December
and 16.6 °C in July.
The Ardennes in the south have frost for 100 days and
snowfall for 30-35 days as well as a Christmas temperature
which is the lowest in the country due to the altitude. The
rainfall is also more abundant here as a result of the
topography. In Flanders in the north, however, frost occurs
for less than 60 days and snowfall for a maximum of 15 days.
The hot days are few due to the proximity to the North Sea.
Plant-and animal life
Belgium is one of Europe's smallest and most densely
populated countries, but after centuries of intensive
exploitation, it is now beginning in many places to restore
the landscape to a more original state, for the benefit of
plants and animals as well as people in need of new natural
In the north-west, a flatter, short coastal zone is
spreading along the North Sea where suitable parts have been
harvested for intensive agriculture or exploited for
recreation. Central Belgium is dominated by a lower, heavily
cultivated plateau with smaller streams used for irrigation.
To the east lies the Ardennes, which form the most natural
part of the country with forests, lower mountains and
Along the North Sea coast on the border with the
Netherlands lies Zwin, Belgium's only remaining tidal area
with reasonably intact nature. In the marsh areas, marritsp
with light purple flowers grows during the summer. Among the
birds can be seen cutting spot, fish tern, black-headed gull
and white stork. Here, large flocks of winter goose,
spitberg goose, cereal goose and wind blow winter.
Further east in connection with the river Schelde near
the city of Antwerp there is another valuable wetland area,
where a brackish water system creates good conditions for
nesting cutting spot, black-headed gull, brown marsh,
white-star blue hook (Luscinia svecica cyanecula)
and many resting ducks.
In the northeastern Flanders on the border with the
Netherlands lies Belgium's only national park Hoge Kempen.
In the higher lots there are sandy fields with heaths,
forest plantations and artificial lakes arising from sand
and gravel pits. Smaller watercourses flow eastwards, down
to the Dutch lowlands and the river Maas, where some marshes
still remain or are being restored.
The height positions dominate heather and bell heather
open vegetation, and where you will also find nesting
curlew, woodlark, nightjar, European Stonechat and - rare -
warblers. The wetland areas offer a completely different
nature experience with an intensive sprouting in the spring
and early summer and planted beaver.
The National Park was created thanks to a private
initiative and a fundraiser. It has a well-developed
infrastructure and meets a great need for recreation and
education. It is also important for the local business
community. Work has begun on creating corridors for the
distribution of plants and animals between the national park
and nearby natural areas. The idea is to establish a network
of natural areas and corridors from the Ardennes to the
south via the river Maas to the North Sea.
The Hautes Fagnes mountain range in the Ardennes on the
border with Germany is one of the most important natural
objects in Belgium. Here, a complex of moss dominates nature
with species such as cranberry, meadow wool, silk hair, bell
gentian, heather and bell heather. Lo has recently colonized
from nearby tribes. Beavers have been implanted, and among
other mammals, wild boar and deer are noticed. The area is
known for housing one of the last remains of blackberries in
Western Europe. The nesting birds include blue marsh hawks
and whales. Every year, cranes move in significant
quantities over Hautes Fagues.
In the southeastern Ardennes there are several
interesting nature areas, for example. Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse
and Haute Sûre/Ardenne Méridionale, with deciduous and
swampy forests and wetlands. Here are nesting black stork,
hazel grouse, honey buzzard, happy, black kite, eagle owl,
corncrake, the spit and kingfishers. Wolves were found in
2011 near the city of Gedinne, for the first time in Belgium
since 1898 - an example of how the wolf is now spreading
west and northwest from Poland and Italy via Germany and
Belgium (2012) has a national park, Hoge Kempen (60 km
2), and a number of nature parks. About 14% of
the surface, exclusively on land, is protected by nature.