JC Servais at Clorophylle Parc

Chlorophylle Parc is an educational adventure park near La Roche in the Ardennes, Belgium. It’s situated somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where the only cars going by are of people looking for the park’s entrance. There’s no blaring music, no ice cream stands, no roller coasters. There is a very nice playground with wooden constructions to climb on, jump off and swing on, but the main part of the park is set up as an experience journey trough the forest, showing that there’s more to the woods than trees.

Along this path, visitors are shown what intricate system that each forest is, what animals live in the Ardennes forests, what plants grow there and how they all depend on each other. You’re lead from the fox’s lairs deep in the ground up to the tree tops where birds sing and falcons prey. You get to measure your strength, speed, climbing prowess with what animals can do, and follow the tracks of different species.

In a final part, the exhibition sheds light on man’s relationship with the forest, with folk tales and history, but also the double role of the timber industry and the need for forest conservation.

Cartoonist Jean Claude Servais, an Ardennois pur sang, has made some very nice illustrations for the several “chapters” in the hike along the park. They function as a kind of frontispice for each chapter. Naturally, I took photo’s…

The first part of the walk deals with the animals and plants in the forest.

We get to know how these depend on one another, and how we can learn about them by observing them.

The history of the Ardennes, and of the whole world for that matter, is closely intertwined with the people’s relationship with their forests.

Devils, sprites, giants and witches play a large part in local folk tales.

Finally, the timber industry plays a double role. On the one hand, it provides local people with a means to live, while on the other hand the economies of scale may as well threaten the forest’s very existence.

Sometimes the folk tale characters also popped up along the hiking trail :

It was a nice afternoon. Drop by there if you have the chance.

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