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By Phil Cooreman
Translation : Marc Jauniaux

After many long months of abstention from searches in the Couvin's region, I had decided to return " to break of the pebble " between Charleroi and Givet to verify the accessibility of the sites that I knew. Regrettably some bad surprises was waiting for me there.

First of all a walk (without tools) along the famous " Wall of the customs officers " allowed me to see new panels even more restrictive than the previous ones, a wooden barrier "protects" a great part of the outcrop and it is henceforth forbidden to collect the detached fossils which would be lying by chance in surface. That is a supreme idiocy because the fossils which are not in place any more in place have not any interest for the Science anymore. It seems that the good example of the Swedes has not made emulators in Belgium...

Having planned to visit again some other sites, we started again towards Vierves-sur-Viroin who showed one or two years ago a superb rectified and very fresh roadcut. Moreover, we had visited with the Club this outcrop, which had not been sparing of corals, brachiopods and other fossils of the Coblencian and of the Eifelian-Couvinian. After 5 minutes of walking at the foot of the bank to collect the small fossils in surface, here is that a big 4x4 pickuptruck stops on the other side of the road. Two forest wardens come down from it, all of green dressed and armed with automatic pistols, and ask us what we make there. After the explanation (the collection of fossils naturally loosened by the erosion) we are said the usual lots of platitudes: " It is forbidden to look for fossils... One risks accidents... The roadcut risks collapsing... Because of the abuses everything is forbidden and everywhere in the region... Except in a private property where there are no problems... Can we  see your ID card, etc. etc. "

Before restarting the two watchdogs asked us if " the message was well received ".

The region of the Viroin is named "Natural Reserve" but it seemed really to me to be there in a dependence of the geologic Reserve of Digne - Les - Bains.

A rather fast visit at the motor-bike field of Nismes continued to fill the cup, the brambles and the vegetation were so developed that we ran away offended. In order not to make a duck, we had nothing else to do than to go on the other side of Couvin to visit some sites hoping to be a little bit quieter!

We arrived in the old quarry of Boussu-en-Fagnes to sample the corals and the brachiopods of the Frasnian, but we saw a small panel nailed on a tree: Private property, Do not pass. We had again to go farther, towards Cerfontaine and Senzeilles where a shaly roadcut, relatively recent, relatively productive, delivered to us, with difficulty, some small corals and brachiopods, of which small Spirifers.

To summarize, we can say that the paleontology in Belgium (and especially in Wallonie, Earth of greeting???) begin to become as difficult to practise as the mineralogy: the few sites still accessible a few years ago are struck with interdiction or are degraded by the vegetation! Next time, we will visit somewhere else... In German Eifel, for example! I wonder what will think of it the tourist information offices of the Couvin region...

PS. It seems also that panels "Natural Reserve" were placed around the famous site of fluorite of Foisches, between Vireux and Givet. The mine galleries were already forbidden because of an accident, now no one will be able to look outside anymore.


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