History

The ‘Kempen~Broek’ region used to consist of vast swamp areas, divided by two large continental dunes. Humans always played a prominent role in the landscape, but after the Second World War nature paid a heavy price.

 What used to be a continuous natural area is now defragmented into small, vulnerable subareas that are no longer connected.
Policy makers realised the potential for transnational cooperation to protect this vulnerable landscape.
•    In 1989 the municipalities of ‘Bocholt (B), Bree (B), Hamont-Achel (B), Maaseik (B), Kinrooi (B), Stramproy (Nl, now part of Weert) and Budel (Nl, now part of Cranendonck)’ signed a declaration of intend. This was the start of a transnational cooperation. The aim was to maintain the transgressing landscape ‘Stramprooierbroek’ and its environment
•    In 1999 a first European Interreg project was approved. The partners of this project, together with Europe, financed several nature restoration projects, the restoration of the ‘Voorste Luysmolen’ and the creation of recreational routes.
•    In 2000, the preparation for a second Interreg project commenced. The name changed to “Transboundary Landscape ‘Kempen~Broek’”. This improved communication and was a better representation of the different partners involved in the region.
•    In August 2002, the new Interreg project was approved. For the next three and a half years, the 12 partners had almost 6 million euro to invest in ‘Kempen~Broek’. Half of this budget was provided by Europe. 75% was invested in nature development, nature conservation and the renewal of creeks and marshes. The other 25% went to project coordination, creation of new hiking areas, the construction of bird hides and the publication of brochures and hiking maps. Hikers were welcomed to the new area with a big event.
•    In 2007, ‘Kempen~Broek’ expanded to several areas in the Netherlands. The total surface of the transboundary landscape increased from 10.000 ha to about 25.000 ha. Next was the launch of a new logo and another name change: ‘GrensPark Kempen~Broek’.
•    In 2009, the transnational cooperation celebrated its 20th birthday.