Let's go for a walk in the woods ...

© OPT-Flemal - Bois des Rêves

Up until recently, only the economical function of the forest was taken into consideration. It’s only from the 60s that the concept “forest for leisure” has started to spread. In the early 70s the social role of the forest was highlighted and it was turned into a place to relax and to recharge one’s batteries.

The reception of the public in the forests is organised since 1972 in the public forests. For private forests, it depends on the owner’s initiative. Except for the outlying forests (10% of the total), for which the social function is important, 82 reception areas, totaling 65 hectares, have been fitted out to welcome tourists. Educational paths and museums have been set up as well.

Movement in the forest

The access to the forest is organised from a sustainable development viewpoint, with the preservation of this ecosystem as an aim. The objective is to let walkers enjoy this privileged environment whilst avoiding they disturb it. That’s why we ask you to hold dogs on a leash.
The rules regarding forest access are valid for all Walloon forests, both public and private. In general, when it comes to roads, the access to the forest is allowed if there are visible traces of frequent passage and if no prohibition signal (gate or board) is present. Only a presence on the roads is authorised.

© OPT-Flemal - Sart Tilman

Three types of roads are defined and they determine the category of users having access.
- the paths (small public way where two pedestrians cannot walk next to each other) are only accessible to pedestrians.
- The tracks (larger public way, not fit for vehicles where two pedestrians can easily walk side by side) are accessible to pedestrians, cyclists, skiers and riders.
- The roads (public way fit for vehicles, cobbled, concreted, asphalted) are also accessible to motorised vehicles.

There are a few exceptions allowing you to go outside the roads. Certain harvesting for example allow it, but they require an authorisation by the owners (Walloon Region, town, province, private owner...).

The forest may be closed to the public at given moments, if it represents a danger (hunting, fire, works...). These closings are announced by means of red posters with a reason for the closing.

Marking out

The easiest and often most interesting way to go walking in the forest is to follow the different existing markings. They will make you discover the most interesting places whilst giving you useful information. In 2007, new markings will see the day, to make it easier for the walkers to understand them.

There are other marked itineraries on a more local (town) or international level, among which the GR (Les Sentiers de Grande Randonnée ) are the most known.

Outside the roads, other welcoming structures, such as rest areas have been set up There marked areas destined for pedestrians, for the momentary parking of vehicles or for the exercise of certain recreational activities.

Walker’s Code

1. STAY ON THE ROADS AND PATHS THAT ARE OPEN FOR TRAFFIC, this way you will not disturb the balance between the vegetation and the animals. Way marked itineraries will allow you to discover our forests.
2. THE TRAFFIC OF MOTORISED VEHICLES is exclusively limited to open roads. Walks will enjoy the serenity of the forest. Also avoid to shout or make noises that might disturb the animals.
3. HOLD YOUR DOG ON A LEASH Your faithful companion risks to bother the brooding or scare away animals.
4. AVOID MUTILATING TREES. Moderate your gathering and do not pick a protected species.
5. AVOID STARTING A FIRE: the danger of a fire is bigger than it seems.
6. CAMPING IN THE FOREST IS NOT AUTHORISED there are camp sites in the surrounding areas.
8. TAKE YOUR WASTE WITH YOU. The forest will remain clean and welcoming after your passage.

Info: https://www.enforet.wallonie.be