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Red light for Flanders bats

At dusk we drive on a winding road approaching the lake Kraenepoel. The yellowish-white gatljuset, dazzling head lights, and a cykellyse cut through the growing darkness.

At the lake itself will disappear gatljuset and instead bathed the wet asphalt in a red glow. The red road, about 500 metres long, functions as a kind of crossing points for bats and birds. Here, they can pass without the navigation disrupted by light.

this area is part of a nature reserve and extra sensitive since there is water on one side of the road and forest on the other in the otherwise not particularly trädtäta Belgium.

It was last year, one of the first in Europe where traditional lighting was replaced by red led lights.

– the First time I saw the light was when I was out running with my friends. I thought: What is this? We did not understand at all what it was and thought it was bizarre, " says Joke Persyn, who lives in the area.

Aalters mayor Patrick Hoste recognize the reaction.

" On the social media, it was the right amount of jokes the first few weeks of the “red light” in Aalter and some have been worried that we shall be associated with such areas (prostitutionsstråk, red. note.). Most think the lights are okay when they understand why it's there. They are proud of what we do, " he says.

According to the Aalters mayor Patrick Hoste there were many who joked on social media about the city and its ”red light” in the beginning. Photo: Mehdi Chebil

the lake Kraenepoel has been purified and that the area is biologically useful. Therefore, demanded the Flemish environmental authority, which is a principal part of the lake, to the street lights must be changed in order not to disturb the birds and animals. Bats were especially out.

– best is if there is any light at all. It was not an option for us because many people walk or jog here in the evening at the same time as there is a lot of traffic. This is a good compromise. It interferes with nature as little as possible, but enough light for us, " says Patrick Hoste.

She estimates that birds and bats are protected.

– Then the red lights was installed, motorists reduce speed on this stretch. It has become more comfortable to run, " she says.

Motorists have however complained that the new lights dazzle them. It depends according to the mayor Hoste is not in color, but the led bulbs used have a more direct light.

was ljusbytet a happy surprise. He is an amateur, an interest that is difficult to exercise in Flanders.

– You can't see many stars here because of all the lighting. Usually, they say that Paris is the city of light. We classify the Netherlands and Flanders, as the light region, " says Stijn Vanderheiden.

Stijn Vanderheiden. Photo: Mehdi Chebil

He calls himself therefore ljusaktivist and work for it to be both less lighting smarter.

" When I talk with various municipalities and authorities, I use this as an example and hope that they can change the lighting in the areas near their reserve.

that was a year or two ago in the Netherlands about the light and the colors that cause problems for different animals. He mentions how the migratory birds, who navigate by the moon and the stars, is disturbed by the oil platforms in the North sea.

– in Order that the birds would not lose orientation and end up flying to the south changed the white lights on the oljeriggarna out against the green. The birds had no problem with the light, but on the other hand was the problem for the people on the oljeriggarna. So the lighting was changed back again, " he says.

A study in 2014, published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, notes that the only vulnerability that you couldn't solve was for the helicopters that would land on oil platforms.

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