A magnificent palace, situated between the French Colonial Pavilions and Victoria Avenue, erected its snow-white architecture against the bright sky. It was a very happy effect, very lively, very open-air, and, as soon as one entered the palace, it was natural to see greenery and to hear the murmur of water jets.
Among a thousand other things, we should note a fairly new enterprise which deserves to be encouraged: it is the planting of slag heaps. Slag heaps are heaps of factory slag, which form almost hills in industrial countries, so much so that they rise up, and which were uncultivated until recent years. Following studies carried out in institutes such as Gembloux, attempts have been made to grow trees on this land, which seemed destined to remain dead to vegetation and whose blackness is enough to mourn the appearance of an entire region. Hornbeams, birches, elms, poplars, locust trees, alders and beeches were planted. These species have been successful.
Specimens of these new crops can be found at various points in the province of Hainaut, notably at Pâturages. In Charleroi, we could see a small, very green and robust wood, of various species, at the foot of the station, established on an old slag heap. Before undertaking such plantations, it is obviously necessary to have allowed sufficient time to elapse since the slag heap was abandoned, from fifteen to twenty years, to allow the fermentation of the ferruginous and sulphurous materials to be completely exhausted. The natural turfing of the slag heap must also precede the plantations for a few years.
Another curiosity is the Overmeire station, founded a few years ago by Dr. Rousseau, showing a very complete set of lake studies. The station has a scientific programme and a programme of practical applications. The plankton of different waters and the propagation of plankton are studied. This animal and plant element is the food of fish. The study of plankton has the greatest connection with fish farming. The diseases of the inhabitants of our waters have also given rise to numerous studies, the instructive results of which were clearly presented.
The Overmeire station summarised its extensive programme as follows
1° to draw up a qualitative inventory of the animal and plant productions of the country's waters and to constitute a collection that will be handed over to the State;
2° to draw up a quantitative inventory of these productions, i.e. to determine the different associations and groupings of species which constitute the "personality" of the local flora and fauna; 30 to study the habits and anatomy of freshwater plants and animals.
Let us conclude by praising this entire Exhibition and the compartment of the Fishing Pupils' School. This work was founded by Prince Albert in 1906. In the founder's speech, we note these beautiful words that the management has taken as a guideline: "In this floating school," said the Prince, "we will establish a paternal regime: people must be happy there. These simple words, well inspired, made a fortune.
The Exhibition was organised by the Œuvre de l'Ibis. It was one of the Section's successful stands, clean and neat in its correctness of maritime discipline, with the little emotion that always brings out the image of the frail child in contact with the terrible sea!
©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Bruxelles 1910