I love the combination of farmland, hedgerows and nature

Gerald Willemsen

Gerald Willemsen (48), Langenboom

What does the Maasheggen area mean to you?

Gerald works for Areal and commissioned by Staatsbosbeheer, province, Groen Ontwikkelfonds Brabant and the municipalities of Cuijk and Boxmeer as coordinator of a large-scale parcel exchange project in the Maasheggengebied. In the Maasheggengebied six subareas have been designated where nature is given priority. The aim is to restore the cultural landscape of this unique area. To make this possible, agricultural land must be converted to nature. We are talking about some 300 hectares, so that is quite a task.

"I'm going to talk to Maasheggen farmers to hear what they want to do with their farms in the future and their further plans with the land." Then we will see if they are open, for a fee, to a lot exchange to enable nature development. Most agricultural entrepreneurs have great respect for the area and love to get on the tractor and be able to drive through the area, they have also become attached to it. The fact that it has to be a win-win situation for both parties makes it a challenging puzzle that we have to figure out together."

What do you think is the most beautiful place in the Maasheggen?

"I often ride my bike through the area after work to check out places I don't know yet. It's nice to look beyond the places I visit anyway for the land exchange project. The Bergjes are beautiful. Very quiet, you rarely meet anyone there. I also like the combination of farmland, hedges and nature. It should not become a museum. It is a dynamic area, you have to preserve that with respect for the natural values."

What could be better?

"The process of parcel exchange is still in full swing. There are still many opportunities in the core areas where we want to restore nature and hedgerows, with space for agriculture around them. For that we need cooperation from landowners, but that is already improving."

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