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plateau region of northeastern Belgium occupying most of Antwerp province and northern Limburg province. It is a rather dry, infertile region of sandy soil and gravel, with pine woods interspersed among meadows of thin grass and heather. Poor drainage, especially in the lower, western part, has produced marshes where reeds and alder trees shelter abundant waterfowl. Although market towns and abbeys on the plateau date from the Middle Ages, settlement there was moderate until the 19th century, when, under population pressure from neighbouring regions, much wasteland was drained and cultivated. Wilderness remains, however, in large parks and designated walking districts