Yellow grapples, trees that are losing them and a bone-dry soil. Not only are people eager for the end of the heat wave, the flora of Brussels could also urgently use a splash of rain. In the meantime, Brussels Environment, which manages the regional parks, saves water that is too red.
The parks and forests in the Brussels-Capital Region are groaning under the heat. It already seems like autumn in all places, with the many leaves falling due to the heat and the lack of rain.
“We experience weather conditions and that year after year,” says Brussels alderman of Green Spaces Zoubida Jellab (Ecolo) Le Soir.
The green service of the City of Brussels therefore does everything possible to ensure that the precious flora on its territory is too red from withering. With a tanker, a van and two vehicles with a water tank, the municipal services go to battle.
Spraying most vulnerable plants
“But we have to choose,” Laurent Somme told the French-language newspaper. He coordinates the management of green spaces for the Brussels Environment. “We primarily spray the most vulnerable plants, such as young trees, annuals and perennials, but protected nature areas also receive water.” In addition, people are thinking about planting species that are more resistant to heat and drought.
The reclaimed grasslands then get no water, but although many a Brussels pelouse seems to be dying today, grasses can survive a drought for up to six weeks, Somme teaches us.
Impact on forests
As for the forests in Brussels, these plans are even better able to withstand the heat, although the drought is also possible there: “At the moment it is difficult to estimate the warm weather. The effects of this often only start to be felt after a few months or even years,” says Somme.
For example, spraying in the Sonian Forest does not work for the Brussels environment. “We are monitoring the situation,” says forest ranger Mathieu Piret. “For example, we make an annual inventory of the condition of the trees, in which we look at how they are developing.”
In the meantime, at Bruxelles Environnement, they are looking at how the Sonian Forest can be made more resistant to the ever-increasing temperatures. “At the moment, 70 percent of the forest consists of beech trees, whose roots are close to the surface. That is why they are not able to withstand the warm temperatures, including oak, for example.”
(Dangerous) blue algae in ponds
Another concern are the ponds in Brussels. “We notice that blue algae starts to form in standing water due to the temperature of the water and the lack of oxygen,” says hydrologist Benjamin Thiébaut in Le Soir. “A dangerous bacteria”, “because they are for humans and animals.”
Although prohibited in any case, Brussels Environment strongly advises against swimming in open water. Dogs should also not take a refreshing dip in ponds and it is better to stop feeding ducks, because it encourages the development of blue algae.