Collaborating for the Forest of Tomorrow

The Nassonia project is a project for the joint management of the 1,684-hectare State Forest of Saint-Michel, in the province of Luxembourg, by the Pairi Daiza Foundation and the Department of Nature and Forests (DNF) of the Walloon Public Service (SPW). This project was set up to address numerous questions and issues affecting our forest ecosystems and the relationship that humans have with them. Restoration and conservation of natural habitats and species are at the heart of the project. Nassonia operates on a long-term basis: for 20 years, renewable three times, potentially totaling 80 years. During this time, Nassonia will test new models and seek ways to ensure the future of the forest.

An inspiring forest

The team behind this project extensively consulted with local stakeholders and a citizen panel to draft the two main framework documents of the Nassonia project together with them. The Master Plan provides the inspiring framework of the project for its first period of 20 years (2020-2040) by describing the main visions and ambitions for this pilot forest in the heart of the Ardennes. The new Forest Management Plan details the guidelines for the daily management of the Saint-Michel forest for the next 24 years (2024-2048). The emphasis is clearly on nature conservation. This Forest Management Plan creates the largest state nature reserve in Wallonia. 930 hectares, or 55% of the State Forest of Saint-Michel, will now be a nature reserve, with 114 hectares designated as integral reserve, allowing natural processes to occur without human intervention.

A restored forest

Between 2018 and 2023, the project team submitted 5 grant applications for actions to restore or improve natural habitats to the PwDR (Walloon Rural Development Plan). The overall results achieved are:

  • 89 ponds dug
  • 7 hectares of heathlands restored
  • 54 hectares of valley bottoms restored
  • 6 hectares of natural grasslands restored and improved pastures
  • 15 km of hedgerows and forest edges planted
  • 9 hectares of coniferous stands converted into mixed oak woodlands
  • 141 hectares of forest habitats in better conservation condition thanks to the cutting/thinning of spruce seedlings.

A welcoming forest

During the autumn of 2023, 27 new educational signs were installed, both in and near viewpoints for landscapes and fauna.

The topics range from the history of the forest to reintroduction of animals, to the importance of certain ecosystems and the characteristics of iconic species of the Ardennes forest.

In the same period, a new observation point was set up. It was built with Douglas firs from the forest of Saint-Michel, hauled by Ardennes draft horses. The logs were sawn on site by a mobile sawmill.

A new trail, far from the beaten paths, called “In the Footsteps of the Wolf,” was opened in the spring of 2023, starting from the CRIE of Saint-Hubert.

Want to learn more about Nassonia?

Discover the latest news, the origins of the project, ongoing achievements, the Master Plan, and other documents directly on the Nassonia website.


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