In these corona times, the hustle and bustle in the nature reserves of Brabant has increased. It also means that Special investigating officers (BOA) and foresters have to warn and fine more.
However, these are not fines related to the anti- corona measures. On the contrary, these are the rules that have always been there. It seems to baffle visitors.
“Actually, all nature reserves form a large open air sports school at the moment”, says forest ranger Sjaak Smits. He works as a so-called ‘green boa’ in the Brabant-East region. This means, that he has extra powers as an extraordinary investigating officer. “We see that more people than usual, are seeking out nature. And more people also cause more violations.”
Most people keep a distance of 1.5 meters or walk around in small groups. People seem to have more difficulty with the normal access rules, which apply throughout the year, during a visit to the nature reserves. “The dog owners, for example, let their dogs run free, riders deviate from the paths and more wild-crossers make nature unsafe,” says Sjaak. “We try to talk to people as much as possible. If we don’t succeed, or if we’ve to warn them several times, they’re fined anyway.”
The organisation Samen Sterk in Brabant has a team of thirteen green BOAs on standby who can be found in all nature reserves. They also notice that the pressure on the nature reserves is increasing. “In addition to the growing number of people, it is also duck breeding season”, says a spokesperson for the organisation. “That is a very important period. Due to the increasing pressure from nature lovers, the rise of the breeding season and the drought, it is a tough time for the foresters.”
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta, who gives ONLINE Inburgering classes.