They provide a beautiful example of a marriage between nature and culture, between history and conservation: castle parks.
I realised this more than ever earlier this week, when I (almost accidentally) stumbled upon a beautiful little park with the ruins of a castle right along one of Belgiums most disgusting highways: the A12.
Not that much further, the landscape looked like on the above picture: dirty concrete and countless cars, as far as the eye could see. The A12 is a combination of a highway – funnelling thousands of cars from Antwerp to Brussels and back – and a shopping street with massive shopping palaces. Together, this does not leave much place for nature.
And still, in between all this chaos, there is a little oasis of peace: the Hof ter Beke, a mansion with a history dating back at least to the 14th century. Although it is very small, and bordered on every side by industry, it has a long history and as a consequence even some remnants of old-growth forest.
Such a small park hosts a large variety of habitats and a large diversity. It is important to know that even such tiny little pieces of nature will never ever be too small to deserve conservation, as they can always serve as a stepping stone or sink population for countless species.
Even though you can never shut out the sound of passing trucks completely, there is an occasional goose protecting its young that might outclass this background noise.