Many place names in Hamont-Achel still refer to the heath that used to be commonplace. A beautiful example is the Beverbeekse Heide. It wasn't until the second half of the last century that the heathlands here were converted to pine forest. Did the heath completely disappear? No, not entirely. Here and there, at the edges of the forest and in clearings, it survives. Those brave remnants have recently gained a lot more space through natural connections.
The Beverbeekse Heide will soon once again be true to its name. There used to be much more heath in this area, and people are working hard to effect its return.
Through afforestation in the second half of the last century great stretches of heathland disappeared and fens such as the Paardeven, Kerkeven and Putven were separated.
The Beverbeekse Heide is a nature reserve between Hamont and the Achelse Kluis.
This former heathland of 331 acres is for the most part covered with Scots pine. To the north, close to the Dutch border, lies an area of heath and fens that includes the Wolfsven and Kerkven. The latter is named after the border church that existed there from 1648 to 1672.
To the south we find Elsbroek, a humid nature reserve in the valley of the Beverbeekloop and a recognised nature reserve,
West of the forest complex, up against the Warmbeek, lies Rozendaal, a forest of 250 acres. To the north of the ruins of Grevenbroek Castle you will still find the 'laathoeve' (place of tax collection in feudal times) of the estate.
To the east, on the Dutch border, stands a replica of De Draad, a border barrier from the First World War.
In the Beverbeek forests we still find several fens, including the Paardenven, Kerkeven and Putven. The banks of these fens are home to special plants such as 'natte dopheide', 'snavelbies' and one of our carnivorous plants: sundew. The Beverbeek fens are, however, not connected.
Whenever there are two locations with the same nature type in close proximity to each other, for example two fens or two heathlands, it can be worthwhile to connect them. This allows animals to move from one place to another, which significantly increases their chances of survival. However, if the two places are separated from each other by a completely different type of nature, in this case monomorphous pine forest, it is very hard for animal species to 'cross over'. A wide heath corridor through the forest therefore serves to link them up. This enables, for example, the rare large white-faced darter and moor frog to find their way from one fen area to the other.