One Day in Europe is a new feature of EFG’s monthly newsletter GeoNews. Each month we will travel to one of EFG’s national membership associations and discover their main activities and challenges. In January we visited Belgium and Luxembourg.

The BLUG/UBLG is an association for geologists, and engineering geologists and the partner of the European Federation of Geologists in Belgium and Luxembourg. The BLUG/UBLG assists professional members to acquire and to maintain EurGeol status, offers an excellent opportunity for students to come into contact with professionals working in industry. The consensus to create a European Federation of Geologists (EFG) was reached during a geological conference in Paris in 1980. One year later, the EFG was founded. The BLUG was founded as the Belgian-Luxembourgian partner of the EFG. BLUG members wrote the first bylaws regulating the European Geologist title. Therefore, the BLUG is inherently linked to the EFG. The BLUG organises the following activities on the basis of the experience and involvement of its members: a bi-annual symposium, fieldworks to maintain fieldwork skills, continuous professional development courses‏, study days and site visits. Robrecht Schmitz and Nuno da Silva are currently the president and the vice-president of the BLUG.

BLUG President Robrecht Schmitz answered our questions:

How many members does BLUG/UBLG represent? How did your membership evolve over the past few years and in which field of geology do your members mainly work – The BLUG/UBLG has at present nearly 100 professional members. Due to the re-launch of the BLUG/UBLG starting in 2014 – 2015 the membership has increased by 10%. Our members work in the dredging industry, in civil, mining and petroleum engineering, academia and for governmental agencies.

How is your association structured? – Our board members are all working on a voluntary basis. We have a good equilibrium concerning gender, age and profession (independent geologists, geologists from industry, governmental bodies and academia). Furthermore, the board represents the four linguistic groups of Belgium and Luxembourg.

What was BLUG/ULBG’s main achievement in 2015? – Our main achievement in 2015 consisted in “re-launching” the image of the BLUG/UBLG. We prepared a strategic plan with the goals we want to attain in the next years. We launched new activities (e.g. CPD course endorsed by the EFG), created a new logo, flyers, created a presence in different social media. On the basis of this re-launch we were able to increase our membership by 10%. Besides these activities we have started participating as third party member in different horizon 2020 projects. On the basis of our activities within the geological world in Belgium we were invited to present our activities to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Brussels in 2015.

What will be your focus for 2016? – In 2016 we will continue with the growth process we have started in 2014/2015 and we will continue to offer more and more activities to our members. We will organise a construction site visit to Luxembourg together with the Belgian Society for Rock Mechanics and Engineering Geology. We will visit a dredging project in the Netherlands with our partners from the industry. Together with Geologica Belgica we will organise five visits to mining and quarrying sites within the framework of our mutual one year project in which we investigate the relationship between ecology and raw materials extraction. We will continue to work as third party member of the EFG in horizon 2020 projects offering interesting tasks for our members working as project experts.

What are currently the main challenges for your association? – The main challenge for our association is to deal with the increased work load for a board working purely on a voluntary basis.

Do you promote geology towards society? If yes, how? – We promote geology towards society by supporting initiatives such as the 2015 EFG / GSL initiative to publish the brochure “Geology for Society”. The BLUG/UBLG worked together with the SGF (France) and the KNGMG (Netherlands) to provide the Dutch and French translation of this brochure. On our internet site we publish information about geology and our activities that are interesting for a public at large. Furthermore, we organise cultural – geological activities targeting a broader (and younger) public (e.g. a field visit “Maastrichtian in Maastricht” in 2015).

Are you in contact with decision makers at national level? If yes, in which field? How would you define BLUG/ULBG’s relation with EFG? – Because our headquarters are located in the same building and on the same floor as the EFG in Brussels, we are oriented towards the EU. Through the EFG we are in contact with policy makers on a EU level.

What would you like the other EFG membership associations to know about BLUG/ULBG? Is there any experience/good practice from BLUG/ULBG that you would like to share with other associations? – We would like to share the positive experience we have by working with other members of the EFG with sister organisations on a national and international level. An interesting fact is that the BLUG / UBLG is the only EFG member representing two countries (Belgium and Luxembourg). The BLUG / UBLG has organised and will continue to organise activities with sister associations such as the Ingeokring of the Netherlands and the Belgian Society for Rock Mechanics and Engineering Geology and Geologica Belgica in Belgium. A close relationship with other geological organisations is maintained by the fact that several of our board members are simultaneously board members of other geological organisations (such as the Ingeokring) and professional members of other EFG partners such as the GSL (UK), the SGF (France) and the KNGMG (Netherlands).

What would you like to know about the other EFG membership associations? – We are really interested in the experience other EFG members have in attracting young geologists to become professional members.

In your opinion, how could EFG improve the knowledge about the activities carried out by other associations? – The EFG has taken good initiatives to exchange information with other members, such as the annual meeting and the newsletter and the organisation of many workshops and activities in Brussels. We are very pleased having such an active umbrella organisation.



The pictures show examples of typical BLUG/UBLG activities in 2015:

On the left: images from our cultural-geological excursion, with very young interested future geologists, to the Maastrichtian in Maastricht.
On the right: CPD-workshop wear of rock cutting tools (an active learning activity) with an image of the CPD certificates issued to the participants.

More information about BLUG/ULBG:

More information on the EurGeol title: