Belgium and the Netherlands peacefully re-arranged their borders this week to resolve a problem dating from the 1960s when a change to the course of the River Meuse left two small parcels of Belgian land isolated on the Dutch side of the river, while a fragment of the Netherlands was on the Belgian side.
The stranded Belgian territory became notorious for unregulated drug and sex activity, because the Dutch police had no jurisdiction and the Belgian officials could only reach it by boat.
In 2012 matters were brought to a head (or more accurately a missing head) when a decapitated body was found on the land. The Belgian investigators required special permission to travel to the area and the administrative hurdles were particularly bothersome.
On Monday this week an agreement was finally signed that realigns the national border with the river course. The land parcels Presqu’île de L’llal and Presqu’île d’Eijsden (totalling 25 hectares) were transferred to the Netherlands , while Belgium acquired Presqu’île Petit-Gravier (5 hectares).
Thus Belgium lost around 20 hectares.
Here’s an explanatory video (in Dutch but with English subtitles)
The Guardian just reported on the Pantanal, a large swathe of mostly Brazilian wetlands. The author stated “The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland territory. Located mostly in Brazil but also covering Bolivia and Paraguay, the wetlands cover an area of 170,500 sq km – equivalent to the combined size of Belgium, Holland, Portugal and Switzerland. “
But did the author do the maths? Let’s check.
Portugal = 92,010 sq km
Holland = 41,850 sq km
Switzerland = 41,284 sq km
Total so far = 175,144, greater than the 170,000 claimed by the author for the Pantanl.
The NWT Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to the territory’s environment minister asking him to shelf the proposed Thaidene Nene park around the eastern arm of Great Slave Lake.
Thaidene Nene — originally proposed in the 1970s — covers almost 30,000 square kilometres of pristine waterways, forests and Canadian Shield near the community of Lutselk’e.
“It appears inconceivable to the business community that the GNWT would be a willing partner in such a reckless annexation of potentially productive land,” wrote Richard Morland, president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce.
“You will therefore understand our alarm when we contemplate the annexation of a land area the size of Belgium, contained within the proposed Thaidene Nene [park].”
“The Pimachiowin Aki, 33,400 square kilometres of mostly untouched wilderness (about the size of Belgium), is home to one of the largest herds of woodland caribou south of Hudson Bay as well as many other species of animals, birds, insects and fish.”
And the largest private forest owner in Europe (a company called SCA) uses an area the size of Belgium to make personal hygiene products. This was reported by CNBC.
One of the additional gems for SCA is that it owns 2.6 million hectares of forest land, equivalent to the size of Belgium, making it the largest “private forest owner in Europe.“
“In 1919, the biggest forest fire in recorded Canadian history swept through Alberta’s boreal forest just south of where Fort McMurray now suffers. That fire burned through 30,000-square-kilometres of timber and razed Lac La Biche, the town now providing safe haven for evacuees from the north.
The fire began near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. It blackened an area the size of Belgium.”
“Robert Spurway, Fonterra’s managing director global operations, says the company wants to “transition away from coal” and is trialling renewables such as miscanthus – a tall grass with high biomass properties – geothermal, wind, solar, biogas and wood biomass. But he says there are “no viable alternatives” to coal in the South Island at present. The sheer volume of energy needed to dry milk into powder is such that shifting from coal to wood in its South Island plants would require “an area the size of Belgium” – about three million hectares – to be planted in trees, he claims.”
“Minkébé National Park in northern Gabon has been of particular focus in recent years. An area the size of Belgium, it was once home to tens of thousands of forest elephants, and still contains a large proportion of Gabon’s total population.”
In fact it is only one quarter the size of Belgium. The publication has repeated the error in a 2015 BBC article (mentioned on the Bloopers page of this blog). There is however an interesting video of an elephant charging the camera in the article.
“The 565 councils in Australia range greatly in size. The largest, Brisbane City Council in Queensland, has an annual operating budget of A$2.9 billion and serves a community of just over a million people. It covers an area of 133,809 hectares.
The smallest, Sandstone Shire Council in Western Australia, comprises a population of 116 and covers a land area of 3,266,650 ha. This is comparable to the size of Belgium. It had an annual operating budget in 2014 of $3.4 million.”