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A handful of citizens of both sides of the Belgium-Dutch border near Maastricht organized themselves in a project group Grensschap Albertkanaal. This civil society group aimed at protecting landscape values by creating 14 artistic landmarks which communicated those values on the spot by creating a specific panoramic gaze on each location. In the process we also tried to create a cross-border feeling of community in an area deeply separated by the border and the Albertkanaal itself.
The landscape at both sides of the border of the Albertkanaal near Maastricht was much neglected partly because it was a loose-end type of border area which no authority cared for much except as a place where heavy industry could be located. Yet, it contains many highly valuable cultural and natural values, ranging from the specific geology which formed the landscape and its subsequent history, archeology from the prehistory (traces of the oldest inhabitants both of Vlaanderen and the Netherlands as well as the first farmers), Roman archeology and famous battlefields, both of the early modern period and the Second World War. Those values are preserved in the existing structure of the landscape. Thus, this structure contains many stories, which – if told on the spot – create valuable historical sensations.
Our little group of volunteers – 15 in all – succeeded in winning the support of the local authorities, the provincial authorities of both Belgium and Dutch Limburg and eventually the European Union. This resulted in a project budget of €700.000 which we spend in hiring an artist designing and realizing the 14 landmarks and a project bureau to organize the whole process. The project was opened by the Flemish minister of the Interior Mario Ceulen and the Dutch Provincial Government May, 20th, 2008. Since then, the project has proven to have not only cultural and social value but economical as well as it is beginning to play an important role in tourist activities in the region.