The presence of the iron and steel industry is still very palpable in the topography of the mining area. Now that mining has stopped, nature and vegetation have taken over once more, and new environments have developed. In order to preserve these nature reserves, the Grand Duchy is considering joining UNESCO's biosphere programme. The application mainly concerns the nature reserves in the southern part of the Grand Duchy.
A biosphere in a former iron and steel area
A working group has been set up to prepare the procedures and the application that will enable the region to be classified as a 'biosphere reserve'. The Haard nature reserve, which has been classified a 'protected area' since 1994, forms part of a 600-hectare nature park that covers parts of the municipalities of Dudelange, Kayl and Rumelange.
Another nature reserve very popular with visitors is the Giele Botter circuit in the municipalities of Differdange and Pétange. The circular path passes through a former open-cast mine. The site, once dominated by the red colour of 'minette' iron ore, now features vegetation and a host of biotopes, a humid zone, ponds, a large number of butterflies, and several different species of orchid.
According to Guy Arendt, Secretary of State for Culture, the windpower site planned in Differdange could be included in the biosphere reserve, since it involves renewable energy and sustainable development.
The application is almost complete
In the coming months, the working group will have to decide on the role of the various areas, including how the protected ecosystem is to contribute to the conservation of landscapes and species, and how the zone involves the people living in the area, so as to be on the scale of the conditions of UNESCO's 'Man and the Biosphere' programme (MAB).
The working group will also be organising a series of forums and round-table discussions which will involve the general public. The final application will then be submitted to UNESCO in Paris in 2019.
There are currently 669 biosphere reserves in 120 countries, including 20 cross-border sites. The new reserves are designated each year by the International Coordinating Council, whose members are elected representatives of 34 UNESCO member States.
(Article written by the editorial team of the luxembourg.lu portal / Source: UNESCO)