Field Research Centre

About the Field Research Centre

About the Field Research Centre

Universiteit Hasselt - Knowledge in action


The European Network Natura 2000 for nature protected areas was established under the Habitats directive (1992). The network aims to protect Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. The network includes nature reserves and parks, but also privately owned land that should be sustainably managed. The network includes over 1000 protected species and more than 200 habitat types, including marine species and habitats. Flanders has 62 Natura 2000 sites.

The "Hoge Kempen" National Park was founded in 2006 and is situated in the East of Limburg, Flanders, Belgium. The Park is about 5600 ha (about 14.000 acres). and stretches across the municipalities Dilsen-Stokkem, Maasmechelen, Zutendaal, Lanaken, Genk and As. Within the National Park, the Mechelse Heide, is a well-known natura 2000 site. Currently the National Park is the only recognized TEEB region within Belgium.

In 2010 Hasselt University and RLKM decided to formalize the concern both institutions share for the sustainibility of this region. Together with many volunteers, park rangers and students, UHasselt now performes, promotes and supports biodiversity-related - in a widest sense - research within the region. This is even more emphasized by establishing a research field centre in the periphery of Connecterra, the main gate to the national park.

Currently the offices of the Field Research Centre are still on the Diepenbeek campus of Hasselt University. The offices, seminar rooms and research infrastructure will be built on the Terhills location within Connecterra, the main gate of the national park borders. Nevertheless, Hasselt University welcomes you already to undertake field trips, summerschools or research activities in the national park Hoge Kempen or the surrounding reserves or domains, such as the Grens-Maas region (The river Meuse running between The Netherlands and Belgium), Bosland or De Wijers. Feel free to contact us any time.

Hasselt University and the project office National Park "Hoge Kempen" – under auspices of the Regional Landscape Kempen and Maasland (RLKM) - signed a long term agreement in October 2010 to formally collaborate in order to make the Limburg region a recognized local biodiversity hotspot. Within this collaboration they will establish a field research centre.

The main objectives of the Field Research Centre are threefold:

• Enable international research to benefit from and increase the knowledge of “biodiversity”, whether directly biology-related, geography, environmental law, geology, landscape ecology and development, environmental management, …

• Enable and facilitate the exchange of expertise and experience regarding biodiversity, nature conservation and management

• Provide and offer modules for student excursions and training for higher education in several disciplines

Many student excursions and biodiversity and geological research are organized, and biodiversity and geological research is ongoing. To facilitate this even better and to expand the oportunities, the partners intend to develop a field Research Centre (FRC) with research infrastructure that enables high quality investigations regarding climate change and biodiversity-related topics.

The Steering Committee meets quarterly each year.

Members of the Steering Committee:

prof.dr. Jaco Vangronsveld

Director Centre for Environmental Sciences (CMK) - UHasselt

dr. Alain De Vocht

Research member CMK - UHasselt

Mr. Ignace Schops

Director Regional Landscape Kempen Maasland (RLKM)

Mr. Johan Van Den Bosch

Project director National Park Hoge Kempen (NPHK)

Mr. Dries Gorissen

Director Afdeling Natuur en Bos Limburg (ANB)

Ms. Ann Peters

Director research coordination UHasselt

dr. Natalie Beenaerts

Project manager Field Research Centre (FRC-CMK) UHasselt

dr. François Rineau

Research leader within CMK - UHasselt