Nature development

In addition to its economic importance, the port of Antwerp is also a valuable ecological area, however surprising this may be. The port area is located in or borders on valuable special protection areas, such as the salt marshes of the Lower Scheldt, Kuifeend, Blokkersdijk and the Scheldt and Durme estuary from the Dutch border to Ghent. 

The nature in and around the port is home to many rare animals and unique vegetation, which thrives here because salt water makes the transition to fresh water in this area, sand spraying creates new habitats and the many high and open buildings are also excellent nesting grounds for birds. The port’s attention to the environment is already paying off as Natuurpunt, for example, confirmed that the bird population in the port and the area around it is the most diverse in Flanders.

Find out more about where to find and explore the various nature areas in the port.

Working together for green plans

The Antwerp Port Authority has joined forces with the Government of Flanders and partners such as Natuurpunt to ensure animals and vegetation are given sufficient opportunities to thrive in an ecological infrastructure network within and around the port. Partners such as the Scheldt Left Bank Corporation and VOKA - the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Antwerp-Waasland - were also included in the consultations to map out these ambitions. The port’s development and growth must go hand in hand with opportunities for natural areas with unique vegetation and animals.

In the year 2000, Natuurpunt and the port of Antwerp signed the “Antwerpse Haven Natuurlijker” charter.  It set out an ambitious plan for creating an ecological infrastructure network in the port of more than 600 hectares. The aim is to create a habitat for the protection or sustainable conservation of 90 species, freeing up other space in the port area for economic development. This network connects larger natural core sites, that are the habitat of several European protected bird species, with corridors and stepping stones.

Companies welcome nature

Many companies are gradually coming around to the idea that nature development is not necessarily a threat to their economic activities. In fact, they even want to contribute to nature development.

  • Saint-Gobain has a wadi, that collects the water from the car park, which then infiltrates into the soil. As such, the company has succeeded in developing a nice transition between wet and dry vegetation. Over the years, this wadi has been extended with planted trees and shrubs, a bee hive and a nesting box for falcons.
  • Lanxess has made several efforts for various species of swifts, by adding permanent artificial nesting boxes at the bottom of silos, leaving gates open so swifts can fly in and build nests in warehouses, by carefully cutting into heaps of sand during the breeding season and so on.
  • Molenbergnatie also welcomes swifts with open arms. The company incorporated 300 nesting boxes in its new storage.

Does your company wish to contribute to the protection of unique animals and vegetation in the port?

Have a look at our brochure about the species protection programme and get in touch with us (only in Dutch).

Contact us 

Sustainable Development Goals Port of Antwerp