Amazon has announced its first Right Now Climate Fund (RNCF) project in Belgium, providing €1.1 million funding for the establishment of the newest Belgian National Park, Brabantse Wouden. The funding supports the Brabantse Wouden organisation, appointed by the Flemish Minster for the Environment to operate the National Park, the first of its kind in Flanders.

The new National Park is intended to strengthen the resilience of Belgian woods against climate change, and to benefit the local community. The RNCF, which provides funding for initiatives that protect and restore nature around the world, made the €1.1 million investment to help the National Park carry out scientific research, as well as preserve and protect valuable natural areas.

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“I’m delighted with the official establishment of our newest national park: National Park Brabantse Wouden”, said Zuhal Demir, Flemish Minister for the Environment, Justice, Tourism and Energy. "These woodlands are among the oldest in Flanders, a fantastic green lung. I'm curious about its evolution and opportunities it will offer to the 2 million people that live in the area. This project will be taken to the next level thanks to Amazon's €1.1 million grant."

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(L-R) Eva Faict, Country Manager,; Patrick Huvenne Regional Manager of Nature and Forest Agency and Zuhal Demir, Flemish Minister for Justice and Enforcement, Environment, Energy and Tourism.

Brabantse Wouden is recognised by UNESCO for its ancient woodlands that have been unchanged since the Ice Age. The designation of becoming a National Park allows the area increased environmental protection, and means it will receive more funding to encourage people from the nearby urban populations of Brussels, Leuven, Halle, and beyond to engage with nature through the 1,200km of recreational trails within the Park’s 465km2 boundary.

The ancient woodlands within the park’s boundaries are fragmented between urban areas and farmland. In order to improve connectivity between natural spaces, part of Amazon's funding will go towards the Brabantse Wouden partners to plant 30,000 trees between already established woodlands. This will create wildlife corridors to enable biodiversity to flourish and improve the resilience of the ancient woodlands.

The Brabantse Wouden National Park is home to 100 km2 of farmland. Our funding is supporting 30 farms to invest in sustainable practices. This will improve the amount of carbon stored with the soils of these farms, increase the amount of flood protection the farms provide to the surrounding urban populations, and enhance the levels of biodiversity of the farms. Adapting sustainable agricultural practices is considered a critical method to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“As the provincial authority, protecting and safeguarding all ecosystem services in the region is an absolute priority. After all, our province directly provides people with drinking water and food,” said Bart Nevens, Deputy of the province Vlaams-Brabant. “We are very pleased that Amazon is supporting the Brabantse Wouden National Park, as it will help ensure that this important ecosystem is enhanced, and continues to provide important benefits to the people of our region.”

In addition to planting trees and expanding the areas of habitat, our funding is helping the park raise awareness and achieve its goal of three million visitors a year. Funding is going towards creating at least 40 ambassadors of the park, whose role is to attract the local community to engage with nature. We will also fund a training programme that will develop skills and create jobs through teaching people how wood can be sustainably harvested to create products, such as benches and garden furniture to be sold locally.

“We are delighted to help protect the ancient Belgian woodlands of the Brabantse Wouden National Park, and offer people the chance to experience the benefits of being in nature,” said Eva Faict, Country Manager, “We believe Amazon has a role in restoring and enhancing nature in the communities where we operate, alongside our Climate Pledge commitment to achieve net-zero carbon by 2040.”

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(L-R) Professor Dr Hans van Dyck, UCLouvain (ecology and biodiversity); Patrick Huvenne, Regional Manager of Nature and Forest Agency; Eva Faict, Country Manager of; Zuhal Demir, Flemish Minister for Justice and Enforcement, Environment, Energy and Tourism; Goedele Van der Spiegel, General administrator Nature and Forests Agency; Bart Nevens, Deputy of the Environment for the province of Brabant; Jan Horemans, President Vrienden van Heverleebos en Meerdaalwoud; Bart Vercoutere, Board Member  Vrienden van Heverleebos en Meerdaalwoud.

To help ensure that the park is innovating and responding to climate change, we will help fund the creation of a scientific board and provide the instruments for 250 monitoring points to continuously collect environmental data such as: temperature, soil health, and air quality. The board will consist of professors from at least four local universities, and will be responsible for interpreting the environmental data and creating a long-term research roadmap that will inform future projects for the park.

As part of the Right Now Climate Fund’s commitment to funding nature-based projects in European communities, we have also invested in a nature and wildlife restoration fund in France, a reforestation programme in Italy, an urban greening programme in Germany, a rewilding and tree planting project in the UK, the world’s first commercial-scale seaweed farm located off the coast of the Netherlands, a blanket bog restoration project in Ireland, and two projects based in Spain: a reforestation project in Madrid, Arco Verde, and an educational initiative in the region of Andalusia. Additionally, we have funded forest conservation and restoration in the Appalachian Mountains in the United States, and the Agroforestry and Restoration Accelerator programme in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

We are a key member of the LEAF Coalition, a new global public-private initiative to mobilise at least $1 billion to protect the world's tropical rainforests. We have also allocated $15 million for nature-based projects in the Asia-Pacific region, with $3 million dedicated to projects in India, including planting 300,000 trees in the Western Ghats.

Learn more about sustainability at Amazon here.