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Project background

Until the mid-nineteenth century, the High Ardennes region of Belgium consisted of vast areas of heathland and grasslands, shaped by agro-pastoral management with herds of sheep and cattle. In between the high pastures lay valleys where farmers used specific irrigation techniques (‘abissage’) for hay management. As these traditional methods became unprofitable, mechanisation and intensification increased. Areas where this was not feasible were abandoned or planted with conifers. This has resulted in fragmentation and even disappearance of semi-natural habitats and associated species.