Why is the eco-grazing management of the open environments necessary?

The open grazing environments form major biodiversity reservoirs: they include many key habitats such as the Mediterranean false brome grass and over 80 species of bird of community importance, such as the Bonelli’s eagle, the woodlark or the tawny pipit.

However, the lack of recurring action on the herbivore’s part mean that these environments are progressively invaded by scrub timber (kermes oak, cistus), then high timber (green oak), before forming habitats with a more trivial diversity. The substeppic grasslands’ surfaces within the territory have therefore shrinked of 94% in 50 years, covering today 100 ha, which is to say less than 1% of the total surface of the Natura 2000 sites, while the specific to the open environments have become deprived of their preferred habitats.

A regular and skillfull maintenance by the herds is therefore necessary to keep this vegetation at this particular stade. Besides biodiversity conservation, the grazing activity has other uses: preserving the landscapes’ quality, or then again fighting against the fires, occuring far more often than even.

What does the breeders’ support imply?

  • Farm visits and interviews shall be organised with 10 volunteer breeders settled in the Natura 2000 sites on the Garrigues camp, the gorges of the Gardon and the Lussan garrigues. An eco-grazing cross-analysis shall allow to learn more about the farm and its breeding practices, along with identifying the means of action (SMGG, with the support of the Chamber of Agriculture and of the Occitanian Natural Spaces Conservatory).
  • Then, the management plans shall be drafted or updated. They include the recommendations related to the grazing areas and requirements in order to meet the conservation challenges while maximizing the source of fodder. The breeders shall benefit from regular monitoring for the whole length of the project.
  • Along with this support and the work on clearing, four lavognes shall be built in the Lussan garrigues and the Gardon gorges in order to support the grazing activity. These rainwater collection basins allow to ensure the garrigue herds a steady water supply. These utter oasis are equally beneficial to the wild fauna.
  • By the end of the project, technical workshops shall be organised in order to allow feedback and to fuel collective brainstorming on better raising awareness on the grazing practices ecological issues.

The project throughout time

  1. Step 01 - Fall 2022

    Analytical interviews

  2. Step 02 - Fall 2022

    Adapting and achieving management plans

  3. Step 03 - 2024

    Building 4 lavognes (animal drinking places)

  4. Step 04 - From 2023 to 2026

    Supporting the breeder all along the project

  5. Step 05 - Spring 2026

    Technical and recovery workshops