With over 100.000 members and 6.000 volunteers, Natuurpunt is the largest Belgian nature conservation organization. The long term protection of important habitats, species and landscapes is the main goal. To achieve this, we buy and manage nature reserves, study species and habitats, raise awareness and run educational programs for a general and specific public and lobby local and regional governments.
For the achievement of reserves two important guidelines are followed. The slogan of Natuurpunt -Nature for everybody - is put into practice by starting up small educational nature reserves in a large number of villages. Furthermore Natuurpunt is managing sites with a high biodiversity or special importance, in particular Natura 2000 sites designated for the EU Bird- and Habitat Directive. Natuurpunt is managing parts of 20 of the 23 SPAs in Flanders. In addition, a large proportion of the area managed by Natuurpunt is assigned as Site of Community Interest (SCI) under the EU-Habitat Directive.
Buying land is in the long term the best method to maintain the natural values in the intensively used Flemish landscape. Land prices are very high and thus acquiring land is only possible thanks to the generous support of the Flemish government. For an area designated as Special Protection Area up to 90% of the necessary budget is subsidised.
Natuurpunt has about 500 reserve projects with a surface of 22.500 ha (1.1.2017).
Every nature reserve managed by Natuurpunt has a reserve manager working on a voluntary base. Large scale activities as mowing of meadows, building hides is mainly done by one of the 19 professional teams. Most other activities are undertaken by several thousand volunteers.
Natuurpunt runs 14 visitor centres near important nature reserves. Most nature reserves are open to the public and all have free entrance.
Natuurpunt has about 200 local branches which run thousands of activities such as guiding in nature reserves, biking, exhibitions and lectures. Volunteers are also lobbying local authorities and monitoring species and habitats. Natuurpunt has more than 125 local and regional working groups on forests, policy, nature reserves and nature study.
Natuurpunt has a policy department which brings nature topics onto the political agenda. Specific attention is given to effects of manure on the landscape, structural planning, dune and water management, forest management and protection of international important areas.
The main sources of income for Natuurpunt are subsidies for management and acquisition of nature reserves from the Flemish government, EU-Life funding and provinces. Other funds are collected from sponsorship and membership fees. More than 60% of the budget is spent on the management of nature reserves and 30% on communication with members and volunteers.
Natuurpunt is the Flemish branch of Eurosite and BirdLife Belgium which is the Belgian Partner of BirdLife International. We work closely with our partner Natagora in Wallonia.
A special thanks to La Lingua Translation for the translation.
As a civil society organisation, Natuurpunt stands up for nature and biodiversity and for the right of all people to this in their local area. We aim for the protection of open space and the quality of the environment. We dedicate ourselves to protecting the landscape and the heritage that can be found in it.
Natuurpunt unites citizens who want to contribute to this social task, unrelated to any political or other conviction. We motivate and support our members to actively dedicate themselves on a local, regional and provincial level.
Natuurpunt wants to be a lever for social change from the perspective of sustainable development. We focus on raising public awareness and increasing the scope for preservation and development of nature. We take the lead across Flanders in everything related to nature, biodiversity and landscape quality and do this in an international context. Where possible, we cooperate with public as well as private partners. We carry weight to urge local authorities and others to achieve results.
Nature and biodiversity
For Natuurpunt the protection of nature and biodiversity form the foundation of a sustainable society. People need nature. We are an integral part of nature. Even though society supports the irreplaceable services of nature, biodiversity is decreasing. We want to turn the tide. To do this, Natuurpunt works on a Flemish level, but always from an international perspective.
Nature and biodiversity can only get sufficient chances when they are embedded in a network of core nature areas and connecting areas. This network is aimed at fulfilling the need for nature in Flanders and meeting international nature conservation duties. We develop a clear vision on how such a network can look and take the lead in its realisation by focusing on acquiring, hiring and managing wildlife areas. We aim for large connected units of nature. These can be managed more efficiently and offer more space for spontaneous processes. At the same time we purchase and manage small, sometimes isolated wildlife areas. These also play an essential role in preservation, recovery and the spread of species and often have a major perception and awareness raising value for local residents. Although the intrinsic value of nature comes first for us, Natuurpunt also takes account of the fact that people can have greatly varying images of nature.
Nature has a place in everyone’s life. This is why we as a society take care of nature ‘for everyone’, so everyone has access to local nature. We also find it important to open our areas for visitors. We always search for a balance between nature conservation and recreational use. We also stand up for nature and biodiversity outside our wildlife areas.
We protect and develop urban nature and urban forests and stand up for more nature in agricultural areas. We aim for an attractive and natural countryside, where an end has come to the fragmentation of open space, the alarming degeneration of the wealth of species and the loss of land-based heritage.
As nature and landscape are inseparable, we dedicate ourselves to improving the quality and the protection of heritage and abiotic elements. We ensure that our own areas are managed properly, by us or together with others. This leads to our areas being regarded as a reference for proper conservation of nature. We also promote more owners and users outside our wildlife areas to cooperate in the execution of a sustainable biodiversity policy that meets high quality standards.
The more participants who take responsibility to actually protect nature, the better. Where possible, we make our knowledge and expertise in nature conservation available. With this, we work on ‘nature with everyone’.
Natuurpunt as a society
Volunteers are the beating heart of Natuurpunt. There is room for everyone’s commitment, ranging from occasional to far-reaching, from local, to regional to national. At Natuurpunt, volunteers get the opportunity to develop themselves and grow in the organisation. They cooperate with a team of professionals, on the basis of respect, mutual empathy and realistic expectations. Via a targeted diversity policy we form a reflection of the make-up of society. We focus extra attention on involving youngsters in the organisation. To offer people who have trouble finding a job in regular employment new opportunities, Natuurpunt invests in jobs in the social economy. We ensure that the workers can work in nature in a useful manner. We act as a responsible employer and provide good working conditions and career development opportunities.
Natuurpunt is developing into the knowledge centre of biodiversity in Flanders. Professionals as well as volunteers have knowledge about species, habitats and conservation. We are recognised for our expertise by the users. In addition, knowledge is expanded via low-threshold citizen science projects.
Natuurpunt is independent and politically neutral and is open to others. We are also becoming less financially dependent on the government by getting our revenue from a whole range of sources. We see Natuurpunt as an important means to realise this objective. Natuurpunt is further professionalising itself as an organisation. We substantiate choices and our own policy is evaluated. We meet our commitments in our own areas and operating levels. We ensure that means are spent efficiently on the basis of determined objective and rational criteria, in view of a maximum result for nature and society.
Natuurpunt is developing into a dynamic and flexible organisation with room for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Corporate social responsibility is central. The society develops an ethical 'verification framework' for its actions. Adapted structures and forms of consultation for internal debate ensure a closer proximity between the professional framework and the volunteers, so major decisions/points of view are fully supported.
Natuurpunt is a strong brand. We realise this through the organisation of a multitude of activities and events and via positive communication about nature. We focus special attention on perception and emotion. Our image helps us to attract capable people (volunteers and professionals) who wish to contribute with conviction to the realisation of our objectives. We ensure that management measures and points of view can be indicated internally and externally on time.
In the public debate, Natuurpunt clearly chooses the conservation of nature and biodiversity, so members and volunteers can be proud of the society and experience their commitment as useful. We strongly focus on increasing our impact on the policy. To this end, we invest in consultation with the government and other participants. If necessary, we take action and use legal measures to protect essential natural values.
Natuurpunt stimulates the ‘sense’ of nature, works on a change of mentality, among others, by getting to know nature, and raises awareness regarding treating nature with respect.
We enter into strategic alliances so the natural objectives can be realised better. We cooperate with partners and organisations on all levels: we organise activities together, work on joint projects, etc. This way, Natuurpunt introduces nature conservation to numerous organisations.
- A special thanks to La Lingua Translation for the translation.