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Activity 19

A new landscape

From the middle ages, man began clearing woodland on a large scale. From the mid-19th Century, wooded areas began to increase considerably in the Ardennes and continue to do so today. The Walloon territory is covered by 51% forest, in other words around 530 000 ha. Luxembourg is 51% forest, or 210 000 ha. Flanders has around 8% wooded area. The district of Manhay owns 3 190 ha of forests. The largest, measuring 7 176 ha, is at Bouillon.

The forest, man’s precious ally
Man has always made use of the forest’s resources.
With the rise of the coal industry, from the end of the 19th Century on, “mine wood”, which was used to hold up underground galleries in mines, was an important market. Today we talk about the “green gold” of the region. For many of the districts in our beautiful province, the forestry heritage represents a significant source of income. And the Park Chlorophylle is a fine example of the development of forestry tourism.


- Grazing: keepers were designated from each village to take the cattle out into the forest.
Affouage: This practice consisted of authorizing the inhabitants of a village or district to exploit the forest’s timber for heating. This continued until after the Second World War.
The first inhabitants of the forest: were probably hunter-gatherers living in nomadic kin groups.
The first sedentary settlers: thanks to agriculture and cattle breeding, they began to open up artificial clearings in the forest.
For a long time, charcoal was the main combustion fuel in the Ardennes. It was produced by burning wood pressed into moulds and covered by a thick layer of dirt.
Forges were set up along the riverbanks. The water kept the hydraulic wheels turning.

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