The Sonian Forest has been recognized as a World Heritage Site by Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) this Friday, July 07, 2017 at the convention of the World Heritage Committee in Cracow , Poland. Since the end of January 2015, parts of the Sonian Forest were already on the short list of 33 intact beech forests.
Unesco wanted to complement the European network of authentic beech forests, having previously recognized forests in the Carpathians and in Germany. The Sonian Forest (Zoniënwoud in Dutch, Sonienwald in German, Forêt de Soignes in French) is a peri-urban forest of about 5 000 ha, located to the south-east of Brussels.
La Cambre Wood, forest and country walk that enters the city up to 4 kilometers of the city center, is related to it.
By walking beneath the trees of La Cambre wood, then the Sonian Forest, the walker, if he heads south, opens, 14 kilometers away, to Waterloo.
The main feature of the Sonian Forest is made up of nearly 80% of beech trees from plantations or natural regeneration, whose tall forests have nicknamed part of the “cathedral beech wood” massif.
The present area of the Sonian Forest is about 5,000 hectares if one includes La Cambre Wood.
It is one of the largest peri-urban forests in Europe, but it is only the vestige of the vast forest that once covered a good part of Brabant land and Northern of France.
The Sonian Forest is populated with 80% of beech.
With the 10% of oak trees also present, this beech wood is intended to provide a high quality wood.
The stands are constantly thinned to favor the most interesting trees.
Natural pruning and the search for light produce high, straight barrels.
The maximum height of beech and oak is reached after 80 years, after which the diameter of the trunk continues to increase.
Beech trees are generally slaughtered after reaching the age of 200 years.