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.
You can see this bird perched on a rock in shallow rivers… The White-throated dipper (Cinclus cinclus) seeks its food from the watercourses. This aquatic passerine is the size of a blackbird, and has a brown plumage with a white throat. It dives as soon as it has located a prey – larvae or little fishes. The bord can walk, completely immersed, on the bottom of the stream, and even “fly” under water with wings slightly open, letting itself be carried away by the current over a short distance.
The Boreal owl (Aegolius funereus) is a little owl that, in France, lives in the mountains. It can be observed in particular in the Aigoual massif. The bird is brown with white flecking, and had beautiful yellow eyes encircled by black, which give it a “surprised” appearance. It is very difficult to see this species, but it is possible to hear the males singing as early as the end of winter, at night. The Boreal owl is a typically coniferous forest-living species. It lives in old-growth forests, where there are tree cavities where it can nest. This bird can use….
From May to August, Stipa pennata covers the vast open lands on the Grands Causses. This plant (common name Orphan maidenhair) is a sand grass famous for its feathery flowering spikes. Agropastoralism prevents the closing in of the vegetation, and so enables to preserve the plant, which grows in open environments.
The Red deer (Cervus elaphus) is the biggest wild mammal in France. Representing power and loyalty, it is the “king of the forest“. It can be found mainly in large forests, in the Aubrac region or in the Aigoual forest. If it lived originally in the large clearings of primary forests, the development of agriculture, human demographic pressure, and hunting forced it away from its habitat. The king of the forest is nowadays confined to wooded spaces, and it comes back to meadows only when dusk falls. Hunting pressure has contributed to the decline of the species in France: in….
In the Tarn river, a rich fauna can be observed, and in particular otters and beavers. The European beaver (Castor fiber) is present for at least 5 million years in almost the whole of fresh and temperate Eurasia, and has played an important role in landscape patterns and the composition of ecosystems. Its landscaping shaped many forests and selected trees in wetlands. This “ecosystem engineer” gave their shape to many rivers, enabled the establishment of some water tables and many bogs and wetlands, thanks to its dams which retain the water. The beaver also helps to improve biodiversity when it….
Common hepatica (Anemone hepatica) forms beautiful carpets in the woods. The flower are usually blue (sometimes also white, pink or purple). This plant which belongs to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) is famous for its early flowering (March-April), which occurs before tree leaves appear: it announces the coming of spring. The plant gets its name from the shap of its leaves, that reminds of a liver lobe.
If it is a rather dull-looking species, the Eurasian skylark (Alauda arvensis) is a wonderful singer, also famous for its flight. Thanks to its brown plumage, the skylark is nearly invisible when it is on the ground. It has a short crest on the head, which can be raised and lowered. The skylark lives in meadows and fields. The bird runs on the ground, where it finds its food, and squats when it is threatened. Before seeing it, you will hear its melodious song. The bird flies high in the blue sky, still singing: the spiral rising flight followed by….
Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) is also called bear’s garlic because of the legend that this animal eats this plant to purge itself after winter hibernation. This 20-50 cm high plant has white blossoms. It can be found in shaded undergrowth where it sometimes forms large colonies. When its leaves are slightly wrinkled, it releases a smell of garlic. Its leaves can be eaten as a vegetable or as a condiment. The flower buds (which can be picked from April to June) are also edible. Harvest period ends when the plant blossoms. Be careful: before flowering, wild garlic may be mistaken….