Ready to make nature’s voice heard at the Nature Council!

There is a voice missing in our local committees and councils: we need nature itself to be a part of our decision-making. Let its voice be heard in the region’s first “Nature Council”!

Only the tables are green… Where is nature’s voice? Local council meeting of the Durbuy region, 31 May 2021 Source:

During the pandemic, many of us turned to nature to calm our minds, to recharge our batteries, to enjoy ourselves. Some of our local doctors even prescribed a daily dose of nature in order for us to stay healthy and to take our minds off the problems the pandemic posed.

We’ve experienced what nature can do for us. Now it’s time to ask what we can do for nature, because it’s common knowledge that the natural world is suffering.

Give nature a voice in the first “Nature Council” of the Aisne valley…  and join our local citizens’ initiative

Why should we act now?

Worldwide, the staggering number of 68% of animals – birds, amphibians, mammals, fish, and reptiles – have died out within the past four decades. Let that sink in. This is a really short time span, half of a human life. Imagine what the state of nature will be in another 40 years… Here in Belgium, up to one third of all species face the threat of dying out. The countryside is becoming inhospitable for life: too hot, too dry, too polluted, too crowded. People around the world are experiencing a mass extinction of forms of life. We humans are the cause of that, but we can also be the solution. Not just for nature’s sake, but for our sake – as we are part of nature. It is simply too sad to see nature disappear.

How can each of us help?

This is where we come in – the citizens of the Aisne Valley: we want the voice of nature to be heard in our local council. How? By putting ourselves into nature’s place and asking the questions it would ask if it could sit at the table during council meetings. What are nature’s needs and how we can ensure nature can thrive. This is how we plan to do this:

1. SHOW US your favourite nature spot – the place you most like to visit in the countryside around here. It could be a hedge, a hill or a forest, or it could be a single a tree, a meadow or a pond, an animal you’ve become attached to: large or small, tell us why you like it here so much. Share your impressions and emotions; describe its beauty and its meaning to you – especially now, during the pandemic. Maybe you know the local name of the place, its history, its relevance to your family or to other people. Perhaps you’ve observed other animals or plants that are connected with it, and you can see its part in a bigger landscape.

Show us

2. IMAGINE Now close your eyes for a moment and imagine that you have the power to help this place thrive, to make it part of your community.

3. EMPATHIZE: Ask yourself: What questions would your nature spot ask if it were to take part in the local council meeting? Where is its place in my community?

Here are a few example questions to get you inspired:

Would it worry about getting enough water? About having to make space for a development project? Is it sprayed with pesticides? What are the rules that govern and protect it? How is this place being affected by climate change? What help does it need from our community to survive and thrive?

4. SHARE nature’s voice in any form you like: write a short text or make a video with your phone; do this on your own or as a group. Then share with other citizens of Durbuy:  Publish your nature’s voice on your own website or social media channel, join our facebook group “Living Together! Network” and put your favourite nature spot on the map (we use Google Maps). If you need any help with all of this – let us know!

5. GET THE VOICE HEARD: With your support, we will organize a series of “nature councils” outdoors at one of the favourite spots you have chosen. We will invite the local authorities, but also experts and nature guides who can give well-founded answers to nature’s questions in a scientific context. We will raise the questions nature has posed through you, and we’ll try and find answers together. Our aim is to develop a regular nature council, driven by citizens, which influcences our community’s local policies.

Make space for nature! Our first Nature Council in Durbuy is about to happen…! source: own

There is a good chance we will succeed, thanks to a recent decision by the European Parliament in which the countries of the EU have committed themselves to protecting 20- 30% of nature within the next decade, and restore all ecosystems by 2050 – and which will support every local community to do its bit.

Looking for some inspiration?

Here you can watch our first “nature voice”

Nina Klein and Alastair Penny, a couple from the village of Villers-Ste-Gertrude – and part of the Nature Council Network –  introducing us to a little river with a family of beavers just outside their village. Simply click on the arrow in the photo below to watch the video or on this link (which leads to vimeo):

We’re curious to hear about your favourite nature spot!

Join us –

Conseil Nature (in French) – The Nature Council Network

Created by a handful of citizens of Durbuy, Manhay, Ferrières and Erezée



Alastair Penny

Nina Klein

the idea behind the project

WHY: We’ll nail our colours to the mast at the outset: we see our world as challenged and we’re looking for answers. The planet is overheating, fauna and flora are in peril, and human society is on the brink of disaster. This is unspeakably sad. Yet it is still a beautiful world, a word filled with wonders, albeit a little less full with each passing day.

Solutions we have come to see as real and essential include reducing consumption, consuming sustainably and reducing waste. That also means slowing down our lives to reduce the need to consume. It’s not about asceticism, but about appreciating good things in life which don’t depend on constant updates, less microelectronics, less plastic junk made in the world’s sweatshops. We’re far from perfect and we won’t missionise, but we do believe these things and, we want to live life accordingly. Some things are simply obvious and worth striving for. That is the basic idea that underpins our project here in Grand Bru.

WHAT: The Jardin de Prangeleu is – or wants to be – a productive orchard and garden, a sanctuary for wildlife, a retreat for human beings, and a place of learning and healing – a place for people to slow down. We will offer an increasing number of activities around yoga, gardening and permaculture; seminars on various topics, from cooking and painting, to gardening and nature watching. And we provide a holiday retreat for those who just want to rest and relax in the country.

WHERE: Grand Bru is an idyllic place: on the one hand it seems to lull us into a sense of security: what do the messages we receive online and on the radio about the sixth great extinction mean to us when the forests here are full of deer and boar and badgers, when our garden welcomes so many different kinds of bird, when foxes, hares, stoats and even beavers roam the countryside?