Nature and landscape
With a height between 50 and 100 meters, the Hoge Kempen National Park is the highest part of the Kempen. It is made up of the rubble that the Meuse brought with it from the Ardennes during the last ice ages. As such, it is the only region in Flanders where the soil is completely made up of rocks of all kinds and sizes.
The very poor gravel and sandy soils inevitably led to a type of farming involving the herding of sheep and cows. To ensure that there was enough food and litter for the stables, vegetation would be burnt down and cut down regularly.
This resulted in a heath landscape characteristic of Western Europe.
In addition to dry heathland with dunes and wet moorland with fens, the Hoge Kempen National Park consists mainly of coniferous forests. These forests, planted to meet the demand for supporting beams for coal mines, are gradually being transformed into more natural forests.
To the east, the Meuse has dug a 60-metre deep valley, making this area hilly.
The quarries created by the extraction of the 30-metre-thick layer of gravel and the quartz sand underneath, together with these stones, form a geological 'open-air museum' unique for the Benelux. In addition, the soil also contained coal. Coal production, which was to last only 90 years, would change the landscape and the way of life in the Hoge Kempen.
The ever-evolving landscape is populated by an endless variety of species. More than 7,000 species find their home in the National Park.