Bluebell forest blooms in Belgium without visitors to admire it

Halle, Belgium, Apr 22 (efe-epa).- Hallerbos forest in Belgium is famous for its annual bloom of bluebells but hardly any visitors will see it this year due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The forest in Halle, less than 30km from Brussels, is home to this unique phenomenon which is set to last just 10 days this year due to exceptionally hot weather.

It has the highest amount of bluebells in the world, and the flowers bloom for just three weeks every year, transforming the ground into a colourful carpet which attracts a large number of photographers, aficionados and would-be Instagram stars.

Patrick Hubenne, regional director of the Belgian Agency for Nature and Forests, told Efe: “It is a very rare phenomenon in Europe and can be seen only in small regions in south England, northern France and here in Flanders.”

Hubenne said bluebells need an Atlantic climate to flourish and are very sensitive, which is why this year’s unexpectedly high April temperatures in Belgium could lead to the flowering season lasting for half of its usual duration.

The April Bluebell Festival is not likely to get many visitors as only local residents are allowed to visit the site due to travel restrictions imposed over the outbreak.

Hubenne said he expected the situation to improve in the coming months and that more visitors could come next year.

He added that there are normally “hundreds of thousands” of tourists from as far away as India, Finland, Thailand and Latin America who throng to the area every year.

The land was owned by the Duke of Arenberg, who had most of the trees cut down at the beginning of the 20th century.

After World War Two the land passed into the hands of the Belgian state and fresh plants were installed.

This led to a unique ecosystem combining very old trees and young plants, which covered the surface without invading it and resulted in a bluebells forest spread over more than 500 hectares.

Many enthusiasts will have to make do with looking at photographs of the spectacle this year, but next year the blossoms will return to the magical blue forest of Europe. EFE-EPA


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