The high plateau of Aubrac, the Causse Méjean, the Mont Aigoual, the causses of Blandas and of Larzac aren’t under pressure from agribusiness, to say the least! Only extensive breeding is practised, as well as some cultivation for animal feed.
The sheep and cattle trails are free of industrial intrusion and also, forest largely covers these biologically natural environments. Nature is present, as well as a rich biodiversity of species.
The low population density also plays an important role, leaving large open spaces from one village to another. Nature is maintained there, but not necessarily massacred!
The Cévennes National Park, created in 1970, has contributed with perseverance to the reasonable protection of sites between Aigoual and Causses.
The Great yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea) is very abundant on the plateau of Aubrac. This flower can measure up to 1,5 metre high, is capable of living for up to 50 years and blooms for the first time when it is from 7 to 10 years old. So please don’t cut it! You can see it on the paths and in the fields from June to August. The gentian is used for different purposes. Its rhizome (the long root that can measure up to 1 metre and weigh up to 5 kg) is used to make famous aperitifs as gentian….
The Griffon vultures (Gyps vulvus) is a protected species. This soaring bird (wingspan : 2m60) had disappeared from the region of the grands causses, victim of poisoning of “vermin”, lack of food (leaving carcasses of dead livestock was forbidden) and massacres by trophy hunters … Reintroduced by the National Park in the gorges de la jonte since 1967, now almost 300 nest in the totality of the Causses, appreciating the thermic currents at the crossing of the gorges du Tarn and the gorges de la Jonte. This is one of the biggest birds in Europe, an adult weighing 8 to 10 kilos….
The population of golden eagles of the Massif central is spread out over the southern fringe of the Grandes Causses and the Cévennes, in the heart of or in the connected zone of the Cévennes National Park. As a rare bird and a species high on the food chain, the Golden Eagle is monitored and particularly protected. Observations on the land are rare and this bird is not always identifiable in flight. It even passes unnoticed by novice ornithologists. That may be for the best! The Golden Eagle is extremely powerful and could easily break your arm with a single strike….
With its 2 metres wingspan, the Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is one of the biggest raptor in Europe. It is also one of the rarest. When it flies, its long wedge-shaped tail enables to distinguish it easily from other species. Unlike most vultures, the bearded vulture does not have a bald head. The bird has an orange and black plumage. The creamy-coloured forehead contrasts against a black band across the eyes and lores and bristles under the chin, which form a black beard that give the species its name. The bearded vulture feeds mostly on the remains of dead….
The European asp (Vipera aspis) lives in warm areas that are exposed to the sun, with structurated vegetation and comparatively dry soils. The triangularhead and the vertical pupils of the eyes are characteristic of Viperae. The tip of the snout is slightly but distinctly upturned. The European asp feeds mainly on rodents (field mice, voles), but also sometimes on lizards and birds. This snake is venomous. A bite is very painful and, if not treated, may sometimes be fatal. However, the European asp is not aggressive and always prefer fleeing than fighting. It uses its venom only to hunt its….
The wild tulip (Tulipa sylvestris) is a bulb-forming perennial, with yellow flowers. This beautiful tulip is protected. Formerly, the wild tulip were abundant in the vineyards, but they also grow in the meadows and also in the woods where they flower before trees make their leaves.
The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is a gregarious mammal. It frequently wallows in mud and scratches itself against tree trunks to remove parasites. It is a highly versatile omnivore, which digs up a great part of its food. It feeds on many plants (in particular roots and bulbs), mushrooms, and animals (worms, insects, little mammals but also birds), dead or alive. The wild boar is an overabundant species in the Cévennes: it causes harm in the fields and gardens in turning the soil and inflicts damage to the vernacular heritage in collapsing dry-stone walls.
The Rosalia longicorn (Rosalia alpina) is one of the most beautiful beetle in France and is a protected specied. It belongs to the Cerambycidae family, also called longicorns or longhorns because of the length of their antennae. This insect is 15 to 40 mm long and its elytra are blue-gray with black spots. This coloration serves as good camouflage with their preferred habitat, the European Beech. The Rosalian longicorn lay eggs in dead or dying trunks of this tree. The development time for the larvae is particularly long: several years. This insect can be seen in the Cévennes National Park,….
In the Aubrac region, beautiful carpets of marsh-marigoldflower along brooks! The marsh-marigold, also called kingcup (Caltha palustris), is a plant of the buttercup family. It grows along streams, in wet meadows, marshes and ditches. The common name “marigold” refers to its use in medieval churches at Easter as a tribute to the Virgin Mary, as in “Mary gold”.
The Salzmann pine (Pinus nigra Salzmannii) is a subspecies of Austrian pine. Formerly, the Salzmann pines were very common in the Mediterranean Basin; now, they are in decline and in danger of extinction. There are several residual populations in France: the biggest is the forest of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. This pine, whose shape is often crooked, grows in a landscape of ruiniform chaos. Its original habitat is in fact composed of rocky areas where the other tree species can’t compete with it in the long run. There the Salzmann pine grows: it is stunted, but it grows and subsists, and is the….