Sonian forest bike ride for the ecosystem

On Sunday, 16 October 2022, UNRIC and the UN Environment Programme’s Europe Office teamed up with the Belgian Sonian Forest Foundation for a bike ride celebrating the Day of the Sonian Forest and the fifth anniversary of its UNESCO-recognised nature reserves.

Around 40 cyclists set off on a three hour ride that took them past forest reserves in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, that are part of UNESCO’s ‘Ancient and primeval beech forests in the Carpathians and other parts of Europe’. These primeval forests are a living example of the exceptional evolution and impact of beech trees’ ecosystems in Europe since the end of the last Ice Age. Such forests are now extremely rare and have developed with very little human influence.

RTL interview with Thierry Lucas, UNEP Coordinator for Biodiversity in Europe
RTL interview with Thierry Lucas, UNEP Coordinator for Biodiversity in Europe © Philippe Chabot | UNRIC

According to Frederik Vaes, Manager of the Brussels area of the Sonian Forest, who led the tour, the aim of the day’s activities was to “raise awareness among participants of the uniqueness of the Sonian Forest and inspire the public to help preserve it”.

The group made a number of stops throughout the 30km ride, pausing to listen to the explanations from forest rangers, as well as a representative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Thierry Lucas, UNEP’s Coordinator for Biodiversity in Europe, took time to explain the purpose and goals of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global effort led by UNEP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) to halt climate change and restore ecosystems by 2030.

journalist from RTL Television on his cargo bike during the Sonian Forest bike tour.
RTL journalists joined on their cargo bikes containing cameras, microphones and other equipment needed to capture the moment. © Philippe Chabot | UNRIC

“All countries have agreed to jointly restore 1 billion hectares, the size of China, of degraded ecosystems in order to counterbalance the negative effects of climate change and stop the loss of biodiversity.” He told Belgian television, RTL, who joined participants on the ride.


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