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Argales pond, Scarpe Escaut Regional Natural Park, Rieulay, Nord, Hauts-de-France

Arising from the progressive sinking of its slag heap, which caused the groundwater to rise, the Argales pond was landscaped to welcome a diversified avifauna. Creating expanses of reed beds has made it possible to welcome numerous nesting species, such as bluethroats, reed bunting, and sedge warblers.
© Grégory Smellinckx

Argales pond, Scarpe Escaut Regional Natural Park, Rieulay, Nord, Hauts-de-France 05
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In the Argales pond, it is common to come across lizards running on the shale. Today, this former mining site has been reconverted into a natural area and is a surprisingly pleasant place to walk around due to its size, its fauna and its flora. The Argales pond is the result of the exploitation of a local coal deposit started in 1904. The stone and earth wastes were then dumped on a vast expanse of marshland on the right bank of the Scarpe river, giving rise to a slag heap that covers 140 hectares. Installed on meadows and peat bogs in the Scarpe valley, it sank into the ground under its own weight, causing the water table to rise and the pond to appear. Subsequently, reedbeds, mudflats, dry grasslands, wet depressions, all the original environments have been recreated, becoming one of the most beautiful European examples of ecological restoration of an industrial site, listed as World Heritage by UNESCO. Classified as a "Sensitive Natural Area", it is home to many species of birds. Completely "renatured" by the hand of man, the site is divided between a space dedicated to leisure and another dedicated to the preservation of natural environments.