Since the 1990s, the bird population has been greatly reduced in Belgium. According to the WWF, the bird populations on our territory have decreased by 30% in thirty years. Global warming, which leads to the gradual disappearance of food (insects, etc.) for birds, has largely contributed to this. Just like the progressive disappearance of their habitat.
To bring its stone to the building, if not of a restoration, at least of a maintenance of the population of birds in Belgium, the manager of the Belgian railway network Infrabel dedicates part of its infrastructure to the installation of birdhouses designed to accommodate various species.
Monday morning, shelters for dippers have just been fixed under the work of art which overhangs the Lhomme, a river flowing in Poix-Saint-Hubert (Province of Luxembourg). “Renovation work on buildings, buildings or structures often leads to the disappearance of the cavities in which certain birds nest, explains Infrabel. At Poix, around ten nesting boxes intended to accommodate the dippers have been installed.
These birds, which live near rivers with a stony and shallow bottom, are excellent bio-indicators. This means that their presence is indicative of a healthy stream rich in living organisms. Shelters intended to accommodate birds and/or mammals have been integrated into other buildings and works of art. Examples include the nesting boxes for black swifts in the new Waterloo station bridge, the nests for swallows in Namur or the roosts for bats in Watermael-Boitsfort.”
Present this Monday in Poix, the Minister for Mobility, Georges Gilkinet, indicated “that Infrabel and the WWF collaborate for the well-being of birds, which find near our rail network the ideal living environment. I hope that this first collaboration with the WWF can be repeated in the future. Public actors or private, each of us bears a responsibility towards our environment and future generations. Protecting our biodiversity is like developing the train, it is preparing for tomorrow.”
CEO of WWF Belgium, Antoine Lebrun welcomed the initiative. “Every action counts to reduce our impact on nature and to preserve biodiversity. Protecting a species means above all protecting or restoring its habitat. This allows ecosystems to remain diverse and therefore more resilient. For this, it is important to join forces, and to involve all parts of society. WWF-Belgium strongly encourages major players such as Infrabel to fully include nature protection in their future projects.”
The new Poix-Saint-Hubert bridge is part of the vast modernization project of the Brussels-Luxembourg axis (175km), the objective of which is to increase the reference speed of trains by bringing it up to at 160 km/h in places and to reduce the journey time by around twenty minutes. A site involving heavy work: renewal of tracks, signaling, no less than 80 structures and 3 stations, removal of 32 level crossings, rectification and stabilization of rock walls and complete re-electrification.
Since 2020, civil engineering works have been underway between Grupont and Hatrival (12km). They consist in particular of the reconstruction and reinforcement of 9 bridges as well as the rectification and securing of 9 sections of rock faces for a total of 170,000m3 of rock to be planed. Half of the volume is crushed and placed in the forest paths of the great forest of Saint Hubert. The other half is used as backfill to durably stabilize the embankments. “This circular economy allows an economic gain of several hundred thousand euros and an ecological gain since there are 4,000 fewer trucks on the roads.”
The project is halfway through and should be completed in 2025.