On the 26th of November, the second Belgian stakeholder meeting took place in the Bulskampveld landscape park. Bulskampveld is the study area chosen by University College Ghent in the province of West Flanders. The park itself is a complex landscape, amongst others, made up of more than 23 castles and estates. Nowadays, there are several domains, forests and routes which are publicly accessible for cyclists or pedestrians, passing by the various castles that mark the landscape.
The participants of the meeting were 13 owners and managers of estates located in the region. After an introduction to the recent project developments, two round table discussions were held which were then followed by a collective summary and wrap-up. The evening ended with a networking drink.
The round table discussions were structured around three topics:
- The estate: Challenges and opportunities related to its management, its succession, its relation to the different policy domains
- The importance of heritage for the domains and the consequent relation to the Agency of Immovable Heritage and heritage-related organisations.
- The social role of the domains and the importance and/or potential of regional cooperation through the framework of the Landscapepark Bulskampveld.
This meeting focused solely on owners and managers of estates in the region as they all face similar challenges that differ from other stakeholders. The opportunity to share those challenges, tips and possible solutions amongst peers was highly appreciated. However, one outcome was that there is also a need for a follow-up meeting with the rest of the stakeholders, to bring everyone together and take the discussion and collaboration further.
The Innocastle meeting brought together for the first time various owners in the park. All participants were pleased to meet and get to know each other. The interaction between private and public owners was specifically valued. The provincial domain in the region functions as a gateway to the landscape park. Contact between the provincial domain’s manager and the different owners in the region is important for the further development of the region and its estates. The meeting format, if done on a regular basis, could be of great value for the local collaboration between owners. While there are several organisations which support estate owners, they are all on a Flemish or Belgian level. A more regional oriented partner for the estates could structurally support local cooperation and stimulate a more holistic approach.
An in-depth report on the meeting can be accessed here.