Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Geographical Areas

Homepage > Learning Science through Nature > Geographical Areas


Herstal and Lower Meuse
Herstal and around
Geography, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geology
E40 and E25 highway as well as the “Ravel” bicycle path go from Liège to Herstal and the Lower Meuse region.
The Lower Meuse and Herstal feature great assets and possibilities for economic development and tourism, a rich industrial heritage from a past golden era, including the important Arcelor-Mittal plant formerly called Chertal.
The river Meuse gives the areas it goes through a unique specificity that cannot be found in other cities run through by a river.
What would be the Lower Meuse without the Meuse?

Thanks to the Meuse, Liège and its area (Herstal) is the first inland port in Belgium and the third in Europe (18 million tons in 2014), the Port of Liège is currently developing a multimodal platform called “Liège Trilogiport” along the Albert Canal in Hermalle-sous-Argenteau. This future multimodal platform will soon become a “logistic town” at the heart of Europe. Thus, thanks to the construction of the Trilogiport and the extension and construction of a fourth lock in Lanaye, barges with a higher tonnage ill bring new economic opportunities.

But this is not the only purpose of the Meuse and we do not want to reduce it to its economic dimension. Indeed, the Lower Meuse is also of ecological and environmental interest certain with some revival: new spawning grounds, new wintering areas for (mostly aquatic) birds (ducks and diving ducks, mergansers…), fish ladders, and the return of an emblematic species (the Atlantic salmon) …

What is particularly noteworthy in the Herstal area, is the compelling approach to urban ecology, based both on the mining industrial past, with the spoil tips as vestiges; the industrial development and reconversion on industrial wasteland and the surprising relationships that can be established between an industrial areas at different stages of ecological evolution and the bird populations, mostly passerine birds. Thus, an astonishing community ecology is established between a changing urban and industrial landscape and the birds subordinate to these types of specific biotopes that cover on a reduced area a duration of about fifty years.
Urban ecology, or the return of Nature around and inside our cities, where our best local guide will be Master Renard.
In Herstal, we will discover a natural history in which black gold turned green…

The team of science and geography teachers.

Contact points – Bibliography - Webography
I. Contact points
• Herstal

Herstal, Service Environnement, Place Jean Jaurès
MotoriumSaroléa, rue Hoyoux
• Oupeye
Oupeye, service Environnement rue des écoles,Haccourt
• Visé
Visé, service Environnement rue de Mons, Visé
• Liège
Maison Liégeoise de l’Environnement(MLE) (associations : Natagora, AVES,) rue Fusch
CRIE de Liège (Jardin Botanique, Liège)
Education Environnement , Sart-Tilman
• Saint-Nicolas
Maison des Terrils, Parc Paysager du Gosson, Rue Chantraine,Saint-Nicolas

II. Books

• Guillaume Eysssartier. 2015. Le guide de la nature en ville . Editions Belin St Etienne
• Françoise Raes et Emmanuel Bosteels. 2006. Terrils de l’or noir à l’or vert.Editions Racine Bruxelles
• Johann Delcourt et Pascal Hauteclair. 2011.Nos terrils leur vraie nature. Editions Weyrich Stavelot
• Albert Caussin. 2008 .Un jardin en ville.Coll« Les cahiers jardinage » ,Editions Nature et Progrès
• Lise Bourdeau-Lepage et Roland Vidal. 2014. Nature en ville : attentes citadines et actions publiques.Coll« Séries », Edition Editopics.

III. Magazines

• Où trouver la nature à Paris ? magazine GEO septembre 2010 n°379
• Terrils , la nature est de retour ! Terre Sauvage février 2006 n°213
• Pays des Terrils Bilan des relevés biologiques
• Pays des Terrils Guide d’activités de la maison des terrils
• Pays des Terrils découvrez ses parcs paysagers livret touristique
• Les Terrils Actes de la journée d’étude organisée par Inter Environnement Wallonie janvier 1985
• Dossier 6ème Ecologie des terrils Collège épiscopal Saint-Barthélemy des terrils de charbonnage considérés comme écosystème
• Revue Panda Demain, la Ville panda 31/86 WWF-suisse
• Accent Nature n°1 à 7 Brochures Echevinat de l’Environnement et du Tourisme Ville de Liège

IV. DVD documents

Naturapolis New York Editions Arte Vod
Naturapolis Rio Editions Arte VOD
Naturapolis Paris Editions Arte VOD
Naturapolis Tokyo Editions Arte VOD
Bruxelles Sauvage, Faune Capitale, documentaire de Bernard Crutzen, Zistoires et RTBF 2015
Le retour de la Nature Emission du Jardin Extraordinaire émission avril 2016
Poissons migrateurs : objectif Meuse de l’Unité de Biologie du Comportement, l’Aquarium-Museum et l’asbl FERN ( J.C. Philippart et P. Poncin) 2005

V. Internet references (on the 30th of May 2016)
• Cities and municipalities

• Environment and nature

• Economic development (geography)


Hemlot reserve (Chertal) The Herstal area is crossed by a great European river, the Meuse, which has become a major waterway for the economic development of the region. A small arm of the Meuse in the municipality of Oupeye, Chertal, has become very interesting, among other for its piscifauna. We focus on this particular, ecologically rich, haven in an industrialised area.
The Trilogiport Economic development and reorganisation in the Liège region, mainly in the Lower-Meuse.
It will be based on the one hand on the assets of a river in a region that is also well served by an excellent road and railway network, near the frontiers of the Meuse-Rhine Euregion (a Belgian-Dutch-German Euregion), on the development of a Trilogiport that will use these three complementary transport routes, on the construction of a new lock in Lanaye to increase the size of the ships and thus the importance of the first inland port of Belgium and third in Europe. On the other hand, it will be based on a synergy with touristic (river tourism and cycling) et and ecologic development (creation of gravel pits, fight against pollution, return to a more “natural” river). The industrial past (mining activity = coal) will also be the object of a reconversion study of this exceptional heritage into landscaped parks, “Pays de terrils” (“slag heap region”), a new touristic development niche in this region, within the framework of the Meuse-Rhine Euregion.
Aerial view of the Brock gravel pit in its geographical area The case of the Brock gravel pit in Hermalle is a bit different of that of Hemlot. This is the conversion of a former industrial exploitation of gravel from the bottom of the Meuse into an attractive artificial pond, particularly in winter for water birds (biodiversity). We will mostly study the issue of birds hibernating in the Lower-Meuse in an industrial area and hibernating areas that are very important for Norther birds that spend winter in milder latitudes.
The fish ladder of Lixhe In the early 80’s, after a report of the Walloon Region on the status of vertebrates in Wallonia (“Threatened vertebrates of Wallonia”, an ambitious but utopic project for the time, imagined by a research of the University of Liège, Jean Claude Philippart). The return of the salmon in the Meuse: the “Saumon 2000” project. It was based on the capture of sea trouts in the Meuse in Liège. This fish has a similar behaviour as the salmon. For the return of the salmon to the Meuse to be possible, two difficulties had to be solved. The biological qualities of waterways in Belgium and the problems of dams, an impassable obstacle to the return of salmons. Our work will focus on waterways reorganisation in the Lower-Meuse: study of the fish ladder in Lixhe (Visé) and of the biological quality of the first river encountered by the salmon when it swims back up the Meuse; it is on the Berwinne that we will carry out a biotic index and chemical and microbiological analyses.
Lock of Lanaye Aerial view of the new lock of Lanaye at the junction between the Albert Canal and the Meuse
Belle-Vue, Bernalmont and Petite Bacnure slag heaps (Aerial picture of Belle Vue and Bernalmont slag heaps) The three slag heaps we will visit are the remains of a former industrial activity, coal extraction, which made the fortune of our region. In Herstal, it represents 90% of green areas. This artificial reliefs created by man have returned to a wild state. Human activity made ancient landscapes (tropical forests of the carboniferous age) come up to the surface with its fossils on which a sometimes temperate vegetation is now growing. We will see there the different phases of vegetal evolution on the slopes of the slag heaps.
Belle-Vue, Bernalmont and Petite Bacnure slag heaps Slag heaps are artificial hills caused by coal extraction. Below, view of Liège from the slag heap called \"Bernalmont\".
Belle-Vue, Bernalmont and Petite Bacnure slag heaps Years after mining activities stopped, vegetation grow on the slag heaps.
Aerial picture from Google Maps of Herstal and its surroundings Herstal: an urban ecology under construction
We will list the various ecosystems through Herstal and its surroundings. In different teams of students, we will study the impact of the repartition of the different ecosystems on the populations of living beings, the impact on the local biodiversity. We want to make a link between the landscape and what we will have found during our researches and the repartition of bird species, what is called a community. In a same area, various phases of landscape evolution (30 – 40 years) can be found.


Itinerary through the Gosson slag heaps in Saint-Nicolas During the walk through the Gosson slag heaps, 13 points of interest are already predefined. During this walk, one can view the ecological successions present on a slag heap before reaching climax (cf. slag heaps of Herstal).


Trilogiport in Hermalle-sous-Argenteau

This video presents the location of the Trilogiport in its natural area and the expected industrial development.

A walk in the Brock gravel pit

An overview of the organisation of the Brock gravel pit located in Hermalle-sous-Argenteau (Oupeye) after the works started in 2012 and inaugurated with great pomp in September 2013.

Fish ladder in Lixhe

Initiated in the years 90 within the framework of “Saumon 2000”, the idea of a fish ladder became a reality in 1997. Since then, the location makes the passage of fish easier during their migrations and is used to reintegrate the salmon in our Walloon rivers, and as an educational site.