Funding support: Public donations and membership
Number of staff: 1
Number of visitors per year: Centre: 10,000 – 15,000, Nature reserve: 100,000 – 150,000
Overall aims of the centre
Providing general information, education, courses, guided tours.
Description of the centre
The Uitkerkse Polder is a +500 hectare wetland, part of the larger 30,000 hectare polder area of the Belgian Eastcoast, between the towns of Ostend, Bruges and Knokke (the Zwin).
The centre is located near the village of Uitkerke (Blankenberge) near the edge of the nature reserve. A large part of the reserve consists of salty grasslands, hayland and meadows with cattle. Typical breeding birds are Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Avocet, Garganey, Marsh harrier, Bluethroat, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler.
Some typical migratory birds are Ruff, Spotted Redshank and Eurasian Spoonbill. Wintering birds are Pink-footed goose (large part of the Svalbard population), White-fronted goose, Barnacle goose, Wigeon, Hen Harrier, White-tailed Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Golden Plover, Curlew, Short-eared Owl, Long-eared Owl.
An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people visit the Uitkerkse Polder yearly.
Main CEPA work areas
The centre has a permanent and semi-permanent exhibition and provides free brochures and maps in four languages (G, E, F, D).
The centre has one staff member and is mainly ran by a group of almost fifty volunteers. The centre is the starting point for over a hundred guided tours yearly. A book and a short documentary are available in Dutch (doc.: French subtitles).
Top three successes
Over the years, our guided tours remain well attended by people from all over the Flemish region and abroad. A yearly market in April where organically grown products from the region are being sold and farmers, beekeepers and local craftsmen tell their stories, is proving a growing interest in the link between nature conservation and sustainable agriculture.
Last but not least: working with local volunteers for organising guided tours, outreach and for running the visitor centre has proven to be successfully sustainable.
Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Using audio-visual tools.
Setting up a new visitor centre; Managing / creating habitat; Running a visitor centre; Building / maintaining structures
Working with disabled people; Engaging the local community; Working with volunteers
Education and communication
Delivering adult education; Working with primary schools; Lobbying / running campaigns; Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials
PR and marketing; Fund-raising.
Bezoekerscentrum ‘Uitkerkse Polder’,
Staff: Bob Vandendriessche