Belgium covers 33.990 km², distributed between 30.528 km² of terrestrial land and 3.462 km² of marine areas. In the north, soils are mainly sandy to loamy. In the south, soils and habitats are more diverse, ranging from forests to rocky and calcareous grasslands on loam and chalky soils. The country can be divided into two biogeographical regions: the Atlantic region (to the north-west), and the Continental region (to the south-east).
Climate, geology, soil characteristics, topography, altitude and distance to the sea all play a major role in shaping the main types of natural habitats and of species of fauna and flora that are found in the two biogeographical regions.
The (semi-)natural habitats currently found in Belgium are the legacy of agricultural practices developed since the Neolithic, when large forest areas on the most fertile soils were cleared for farming. The modern landscape combines cultivated fields, pastures, heathlands and forests, interspersed by densely urbanized and industrialized areas.
According to latest data gathered by Statistics Belgium (reference year 2011), 40.467 species have been identified so far in Belgium. There are probably around 15.000 additional species present, but these have yet to be discovered. A little less than two-thirds of the known species are animals, the rest being plants, micro-organisms and fungi. Insects, like in elsewhere in the world, are by far the most numerous.
LifeWatch Belgium is a distributed virtual laboratory and is used for biodiversity research as well as climatological and environmental impact studies. The Belgian node provides online data services and real-time information on research activities. The Belgian Biodiversity Platform acts as the Belgian Lifewatch Support Committee to promote LifeWatch tools, standards, services amongst the Belgian scientific communities and potential users. The Flanders Marine Institute coordinates the integration of LifeWatch Belgian in-kind contributions.