For Sale: Cattle station empire the size of Belgium

As reported in the Australian Financial Review.

“Hui Wing Mau, founder and majority owner of debt ladden [sic] Chinese property developer Shimao Group Holdings, has put a WA cattle station portfolio almost as big as Belgium on the market with an asking price of about $250 million. Marketed as the Kimberley Cattle Portfolio, the offering encompasses more than 2.9 million hectares…”

Editors Note: This is a pretty accurate comparison, with Belgium being 3.05 million hectares.

Wildfires in Canada

Deforestation, whether accidental or deliberate, is frequently measured in Belgiums. Today The Independent reported that “There have been 4,148 fires so far this year in Canada, destroying more than 38,000 square miles – an area three times the size of Belgium.”

Reuters (via Yahoo News) opted for a more granular calculation. “Some 24 million acres – an area the size of Belgium and Ireland combined – has been burned since May.”

President Biden Compares Belgium with Maryland

Is it possible Joe Biden used my previous post on this site to prepare for his address this week at the 2023 Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate?

“Today we have to do more than recognize the climate challenges we face. It seems to me we have to recommit ourselves to action while still — while we still have the time.”

Forests are key to our future. In the United States alone, our forests absorb more than 10 percent of our annual greenhouse gas emissions. And as we all know, if we lose this natural resource, we can’t easily get it back.

In my own country, I’ve flown over more land that has been burned to the ground because of forest fires of late than the entire size of the state of Maryland, which is about the size of Belgium.

That’s why, almost exactly one year ago, I signed an executive order to help prevent wildfires, preserve our forests, and protect our local economies that so often they support.”

Flooding Three Belgiums

An article in the Wall Street Journal (Oct 5) and republished in Bangkok Post discussed the creation of biofuel from algae.

Unfortunately large-scale algae production requires enormous amounts of land, water and fertilizer, making it prohibitively expensive. Professor Kevin Flynn, who has researched algae biofuel for years was quoted as saying “Meeting just 10% of Europe’s fuel demand with unmodified algae would require flooding three Belgiums in more than 7 inches of water while using 50% of the fertilizer used for European agriculture”

Thank you to @PeterLuxy on Twitter for spotting this one.

Water surface area lost by Brazil

Spotted in La Prensa Latina, a southern US-based newspaper.

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 23 (EFE).- Brazil, the world’s main water reserve, has lost over three million hectares of its water surface area in 30 years, MapBiomas reported Monday.

From 1991 to 2020, the freshwater area in Brazil decreased from 19.7 million hectares to 16.6 million hectares, representing a 15.7% drop. It is an area equivalent to the size of Belgium.

Editor’s Note

This appears to be a typical case of a Belgium comparison appearing in a newspaper whose readers are unlikely to be familiar with Belgium.

The original report by MapBiomas – a Brazilian ecological initiative – did not mention Belgium. In Spain the agency EFE picked up the report and added the Belgium comparison.

The newspaper in Tennessee ran the EFE story including with the unhelpful (although accurate) Belgium measurement.

Frustrated farmer changes the size of Belgium

According to a BBC report the Belgian farmer moved the stone dating from 1819 that marked the France-Belgium border because it was in the path of his tractor. He relocated it 2.29 metres (7.5 feet) into French territory, thus making Belgium larger and France smaller.

Local authorities will request that the farmer replaces the stone to its original location to avoid the reconvening of a Franco-Belgian border commission that has been dormant since 1930.

The BBC report can be found here.


What is Belgebra? It is a sub-branch of algebra where one of the variables represents the size of Belgium. I’ve spotted a couple of examples in the news this week.

The first example is fairly simple. It comes from on Chinese aquaculture (May 14, 2020)

“It also prioritizes further mitigation of mudflat and earthenware aquaculture, a primary source of production of low-value species, but also the cause of significant environmental damage across a land footprint spanning the size of Belgium and the Netherlands combined.”

A much more complex and bizarre example appeared in The CEO Magazine – May 18, 2020 in a piece about Covid-19 in the state of Western Australia.

“Western Australia has recorded 557 cases of COVID-19, five of which remain active. The state is the size of Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands and the UK combined. The UK alone has had more than 243,000 confirmed cases of infection, Belgium more than 52,000 and the Netherlands almost 44,000.

This “Belgebra” is weird on several levels:

Firstly, it is wildly inaccurate. The seven countries listed add up to 1.03 million sq km. Western Australia covers more than 2.65 million sq km (which by coincidence is almost the same as its population). In fact you could add Germany, Italy and Spain to the equation and still reach only 80% of the size of WA.

Secondly, the inclusion of Monaco is laughable. It is only 2 sq km – the second smallest nation on earth after the Vatican.

Thirdly, if Belgium had not been listed first I would never have spotted this in my search for size of Belgium!

A pocket of fish

From Cosmos Magazine (18 February 2020):

Researchers have found more than 450 species of fish in a pocket of northern South America just half the size of Belgium. By comparison, they say, the Mississippi River Basin is 200 times its size but has only around 200 species.

Scientists from the Field Museum, US, spent a dry season in the Rupununi region of central Guyana looking for fish and were overwhelmed with what they found.