Stage 3: Verviers > Longwy
The Fagnes de Malchamps and Stoumont Natura 2000 site, straddling the municipalities of Spa and Stoumont, and to a lesser extent those of Theux and Aywaille, occupies the crest of two watersheds and covers 964 ha. It is partly accessible, especially from Domaine de Bérinzenne.
These open landscapes, punctuated here and there with willows and birches, are characterised by numerous sub-shrubs: the common blueberry, bog blueberry and cranberry bushes and heather. This Natura 2000 habitat is the result of forest exploitation by man followed by grazing or the practice of fire clearing, an ancient cultivation using the slash and burn method.
...and wet moorlands
On the water-filled peat, it is the wet variant of the moor, closely intertwined with the dry moor, that takes its place. The plants which characterise the wet moorlands are secretive, low, hidden on the ground: the mosquito rush, the star sedge, dense clumps of the deergrass as well as the pretty cross-leaved heath with its pink bells grouped at the top of the stem.
Take action to conserve the moors!
In the past, the moors were maintained thanks to extensive grazing. Since the abandonment of this agro-pastoral practice, it is necessary to regularly cut the trees that grow there. This work is carried out by the Department of Nature and Forests, on a 7-year rotation. Otherwise, the forest would quickly reassert itself!
In Malchamps, peat bogs started growing in circular basins formed almost 10,000 years ago, called "lithalsas". Here you can find transition peat bogs punctuated by high peat mounds, two Natura 2000 habitats.
Peat is composed of dead mosses - peat mosses - which have not decomposed and slowly accumulate over time. On this thick layer of peat, the transition bog grows at the same level as the water and forms a floating carpet of narrow-leaved cotton-grass, in particular. The high peat bog, perched above the water table, is home to small floral wonders, such as the small cranberry, bog rosemary, the hare’s tail cottongrass and even sundew, small insectivorous plants that spread their leaves beaded with sticky traps on the peat moss.
As there are few wooded areas, the fens host specific species of birds that are adapted to these open habitats. The great grey shrike often stands perched on the look-out for large insects or small mammals. It stays with us all year round, while the northern wheatear and common cranes only stop at Malchamps during their migration, in autumn or spring.
The European nightjar, meanwhile, returns here to nest annually. This very special bird only begins to sing at nightfall. Sleeping during the day, it hunts in the evening and morning, flying with its wide beak open to snap up insects. A long-distance migratory bird, the European nightjar spends the winter in Africa.