Local Plant Life

What do we mean when we say: local plant life?

Many of our current trees and bushes have been imported from foreign countries. Therefore, they are not well adapted for living in our local climate. Local plants are plants that are direct descendants of the trees and bushes that formed our landscape after the last Ice Age, 10.000 years ago. These plants have had centuries to adapt themselves to the local situation and hence, the local environment. This makes their genes invaluable for us and maintains the balance of nature: seeds and berries will ripe exactly in time for our birds and insects to feast on them. They will also grow slower, which means they have to trimmed less often and they are less sensitive to frost.

Local plants are better than foreign species

Blackthorn, indigenous to Poland, will bloom a lot earlier than its native counterpart. But for several butterfly species, this is too early, they will not have hatched yet. The brown hairstreak, for whom the blackthorn is an important source of food, will not find enough sustenance. The balance of nature has been disturbed.

Foreign plants are also not as well adapted to our climate, and therefore more sensitive to diseases and frost. Hawthorn, blackthorn or field maple, indigenous to the Mediterranean regions, will have far more problems here. Local trees and bushes have an important role in restoring the balance of nature.

Both the harvest and the rearing of native seeds and later the sales of these plants takes place here in Flanders. When comparing the CO2-emission of imported plants to those of local plants, we will see that the ecological footprint of local plant life is much smaller.  Furthermore, these local plants can be used to stimulate local employment.

Time for some action

Local populations are increasingly threatened. That is why three regional landscapes in Limburg decided it was time to take action. They harvest local seeds and fruits in several locations to then cultivate new plants. Only recognised growers can participate. This way, within a few years, there will be an independent market for local greenery. Then, everyone can have an authentic tree or bush in their garden. Furthermore, the landscaping team can use these plants in their work.

The Plant Guide will help you choose your plants.

Which tree is typical for the ‘Kempen’? Can I plant a beech-hedge in my garden? Which bushes attract the most butterflies? These, and all other questions you might have, will be answered in the Plant Guide. This practical brochure will offer advice in your choice for the right, local trees and bushes for your garden so that your garden will be a paradise for butterflies and bees, and you are sure that your tree has the highest chances for survival. You can find the brochure here for free.

A search engine can be found on the website www.plantvanhier.be,  there you can find out which plants are best suited for your garden. A list of trees and bushes best adapted to your region will be generated based on your street and postal code. 

Some municipalities also grant financial aid when you use ‘local plants’ on your property.


This project is a cooperation between the Institute for Research in Nature and Forestry, the Agency for Nature and Forestry, the Regional ‘Kempen’ and ‘Maasland’ Landscape and the Regional ‘Haspengouw’ and ‘Voeren’ Landscape. Financial aid is provided by the Flemish Program Document for Development in Agriculture (PDPO) and the Agency for Urban Planning Flanders.

This project has ended in 2011.