Archives report breeding storks in our country, especially in Flanders, from at least the sixteenth century. In those bygone times there were no counts or estimates, so we have to guess at the numbers. The last breeding case was recorded in Gistel in West Flanders in 1895. Habitat loss and especially human persecution had killed the species, according to the nature organization.
Until well into the twentieth century, the stork population in all of Western Europe would suffer a serious decline. The tide began to turn thanks to better protection, helped by reintroduction projects in various countries where storks were released. There were also several such projects in Belgium, such as in the Zwin and Zoo Planckendael. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Belgian population numbered less than fifty couples. Today we are at five times that number.
Flanders has 182 nest sites, or 73.5 percent of the Belgian total. Breeding storks can be found in all Flemish provinces. Antwerp (104 nests) and West Flanders (51) account for 85 percent. In the past, the most important reintroduction projects took place in these provinces. Zoo Planckendael remains the largest breeding center with 93 occupied breeding sites. East Flanders (nineteen breeding grounds), Limburg (four) and Flemish Brabant (four) are the least well-off provinces.
The Walloon breeding population is limited to the provinces of Hainaut and Liège. The Pairi Daizi animal park (51 breeding sites) in Hainaut is by far the most important location. Aywaille in the province of Liège (five) and Virelles (five) follow at a great distance.