Project report Farmer clears field for desealing (Boer Ruimt Veld project)

19/11/2021

Desealing as a way to create open space

Boer Ruimt Veld - Farmer Clears Field
Final report of "Boer ruimt veld" (Farmer clears field)

Social concerns such as caring for our soils, water supply, biodiversity, etc., has placed the need to reduce the proportion of hard surfaces on the policy agenda. Central to the systemic desealing project 'Boer ruimt veld' is the question of how desealing abandoned farmsteads not only ensures that the soil is less sealed, but also how it can contribute to the strategic objective of preventing non-agrarian development in the agricultural area.

Open space in Flanders is under pressure: 33% of the total area is taken up by land take 14% by actual paving (RURA, 2018). Moreover, land development is increasing daily by an average of 7.16 ha (Statbel, 2018). In Flanders, 51% of open space is managed by agriculture (RURA, 2018), with the result that transformations in agriculture have a direct impact on open space.

The number of farmsteads in Flanders, for various reasons and dynamics specific to factors outside the sector, is decreasing year after year. Many non-agricultural functions (housing, as well as economic and other activities) are being implemented in these newly-vacated agricultural sites. Within these reconversion dynamics, the desealing of entire agricultural sites to open up agricultural space hardly takes place. In fact, the legal possibilities of changing the function of agricultural buildings lead to a perpetuation of this sealing. Moreover, within the current legal and economic framework, it is still often more interesting, easier and cheaper for a farmer, as an applicant for a building permit in an agricultural area, to cut across an undeveloped site and to realize his changed building requirements through new construction than to redevelop a vacant agricultural site. Thus, this reconversion reality even leads to a further hardening of open space.

The desealing of vacant agricultural sites that is envisaged in this experimental farm not only aims at desealing in the open space, but also at the reuse of the vacant land by professional agriculture and horticulture. This prevents current and future non-agricultural reuse. In this way, the vacant (paved) farm will once again become a productive farm.

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