Published on 30/03/2022 9:40 am

It is nighttime in the forests in Luxembourg’s north. When the inhabitants of Clervaux and Vianden turn off their lights, go to bed in search of restorative sleep, the forests are dark, and foxes, owls and bats sharpen their senses. Their eyes are used to hunting prey in the dark, their movements adapted to the black that surrounds them, the only source of light being stars and moon.

These nocturnal animals have a major problem. For decades, the night sky has become brighter and brighter, even in Nature Park Our in the North of the country, the less industrial area in Luxembourg.

“International studies for years have shown that several animals are very sensitive to too much artificial light in the night”, Laurent Spithoven, project manager at Nature Park Our explains. “Several species need the night to be dark. For instance, the animals that hunt during in the night, have adapted to find they prey in the dark. Too much brightness influences their hunting conditions in a negative way. Other animals such as migratory birds can be distracted from their route. They get their bearings by the brightest points in their visual range. The birds use stars and the moon for navigation.” Too much light severely impacts the habitat of those animals and, on the long run, weakens them. Laurent Spithoven is the leader for the Interreg project “Night Light” that was concluded on Monday evening in Vianden. “For five years , we have paid much attention to this topic. We are very concerned about the development.” Night Light is a pilot project to reduce light pollution in the Éislek region.

Light pollution is caused by too intense and too much unnecessary light. Not only the nocturnal animals but also those who need rest at night, suffer from too much artificial light. “We see the risk that light pollution has a big impact on our biodiversity. The night is part of a natural habitat. That’s why we want to do something about it and why we try to raise awareness on the issue, so that people start thinking a bit more about the value of the night”, Laurent Spithoven says. In a first step, the Nature Park Our elaborated a regional strategy on how to reduce light pollution together with the municipalities. The next one is the inclusion of other actors. Everyone can reduce light pollution. “It is not about switching off all lights. But why does a parking which is not used during the night have to be lighted all night long? We could adapt the lighting to what’s necessary. We could maybe just dim the light.” Or point them towards the ground instead of the sky.

With the conclusion of the Interreg project, the fight against light pollution has just started in Nature Park Our. To protect the habitats of animals as well as the health of human beings, more will be done to stop the waste of light and its consequences.

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Local Matters: Light pollution in Nature Park Our