Flight restrictions over natural areas (SWO)

Project Details


There is growing concern about the disturbance of sensitive species due to drone overflights over natural areas, including SPAs.

An INBO opinion (INBO.A.3943 dated 22/9/2020) identifies the risk based on a broad literature review and the precautionary principle, and proposes restrictions on drone use over nature reserves. In a Flemish context, the following Natura 2000 target species or groups are considered vulnerable to drone disturbance:
● breeding birds: breeding colonies, concentrations of breeding cases of special bird species of open landscapes (dune, heath, cultivated land) and marshes, birds of prey nests
● non-breeding birds: concentrations of wintering geese and ducklings, roosts of gulls, foraging and resting areas of waders
● mammals: wolf (nesting area) and common and gray seal (resting areas); there is a knowledge gap for other mammals

Since 2019, the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 around unmanned aerial vehicles is applicable. This has since been anchored at the federal level. Thus, UAS (Unmanned Aerial System = drones) zones are demarcated, where flight restrictions apply, and which are accessed for drone users via the central platform https://map.droneguide.be. At the request of the regions, these UAS zones can be expanded to include zones demarcated on environmental grounds.

The INBO is responsible for the scientific substantiation of the delineation of generic UAS zones and of the generic and specific flight restrictions regarding time of day, type of drone, flight altitude, etc.
Effective start/end date1/01/231/06/23

Thematic List 2020

  • Protected nature