A little bit of history
Ever since the establishment of the non-profit organisation Regionaal Landschap Kempen en Maasland in 1990, the idea of establishing a National Park in Flanders has ripened.
- After the successful 'Hoge Kempen, Groene Kans' [Hoge Kempen, Green Opportunity] campaign in 1998 by the Kempen and Maasland Regional Landscape, this idea has gained momentum. The Flemish Government commissioned a Master Plan to be drawn up. This plan outlined the development of the Hoge Kempen National Park. This plan was presented by all the towns involved and the provincial government to the competent Flemish Minister Dua at the end of 2001.
- Following the decision of the Flemish Government of 19 July 2002, the concept gained an official place in Limburg's policy of change, and the Ministers responsible for Environment and Tourism were instructed to make the best use of their regular resources to realise the concept. The Limburg Strategic Development Company (Limburgse Strategische Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij - Lisom) was given the task of setting aside 28 million Euros for the realisation of certain parts of the plan.
- Since March 2003, the Regionaal Landschap Kempen en Maasland has established the Hoge Kempen National Park Project Bureau.
- The Steering and Project Group was established in mid-2003.
- On 25 January 2004, on the initiative of Flemish Minister Sannen, the town of Maasmechelen took an important step by bringing more than 1000 ha of its land into the National Park via a lease.
- The opening of the ‘eco-veloduct’ in the presence of Minister Tavernier and Minister Bossuyt in the spring of 2004, was an important step in the defragmentation of the Hoge Kempen.
- In June 2004, the new logo was presented to the press, politicians and the public in Genk.
- On 23 March 2006, the Hoge Kempen National Park was officially opened by European Commissioner for the Environment, Stavros Dimas, in the presence of all the mayors involved, the Governor, members of the Permanent Deputation and the Flemish Government, as well as members of the European and Flemish Parliaments.
From this day on, people have hiked and cycled in the National Park to their hearts’ content