Zoom on the forest of the Landes of Gascogne
After the fabulous history of the Sanguinet Lake, we are going to present you the gorgeous forest of the Landes of Gascogne.
The forest of the Landes of Gascogne is a big forest in the south-west of France situated in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. With a surface area of about a million hectares, it is the biggest artificial forest in the whole Western Europe.
It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and forms a big triangle covering three departments: the Gironde, les Landes and the Lot-et-Garonne. It is mainly a private forest and is composed of some state parts situated near the Atlantic coastline.
Its history: the forest of the Landes during Napoleon III period
In 1867, about 90,000 hectares of sand dunes were planted with maritime pines, while 3,000 hectares of coastal dunes were covered by the dune vegetation. But it was only the beginning; behind the dunes, over more than 700,000 hectares, there were big prairies flooded during the most part of the year, and dry during summer.
Chambrelent was a civil engineer. He noticed that the vegetation was developing only where the waters could flow. So, he concluded that it was necessary to free the superficial waters as soon as spring started. In 1849 he bought 500 hectares of moors on which he started to plant seeds of maritime pines according to the principles he had established. The result was immediate: the seeding was developing very fast!
In 1855, the cleansed and seeded surface reached 20,000 hectares. So, he convinced the majors to dry out the communal lands to realize a net of well-drawn big collecting canals.
When the Emperor Napoleon III visited the Landes in 1855, he was excited by the results of Chambrelent. So, he decided to buy a great surface area of 7,400 hectares in order to dry it out and to cultivate it. A law was voted in 1857 to oblige the communes to cleanse and sow their moors. The land owners, taking the advantages of the water collector, kept on doing similar works and the forest of the Landes started to be as it is now.
(Source : Mediaforest)
The today’s forest of the Landes of Gascogne
Over time, the forest of the Landes has had some changes. Actually, the improvement of the technics of the culture has produced an increase of the productivity of the maritime pine. And nowadays, it is well known that the forest of the Landes is one of the best examples of artificial forests. What a privilege to live near this beautiful forest!
What are the dangers of the forest of the Landes?
In spite of the beauty of the forest of the Landes, there is always the possibility of a fire. To face this and avoid any danger, there are specific equipment to fight against the forest fires: observation towers, water tanks, paths, etc…
The number of fires has really decreased since the last disasters in the 1950’s and 1960’s, thanks to the implement of firebreaks (gaps supposed to create natural fences against the propagation of flames). A huge net of firebreaks was introduced in the forest massif after the big fires of the 1950’s when more than 300,000 hectares of forest were destroyed. After the fires, there were the tempests and the violent winds: the hurricane Martin in December 1999, the tempest Klaus in 2009, one of the most violent in the region and Xynthia in 2011.
The fauna and flora in the Landes of Gascogne
The forest of the Landes offers us great surprises. With the fauna, the flora and the protected species, we never take enough time to admire all the beauty of nature. With this natural environment permanently renewed along the seasons, the forest creates different atmospheres: pine forest, ponds, peatlands or hilly landscapes. We do not know what to see. We also have the Calluna Heather (typical plant in the Landes), the white oak, the pedunculate oak, the Tauzin oak, the maritime pine, the ash…
The animals you can see in the forest: the badger, the wood pigeon, the woodcock, the European hare, the Eurasian jay, the pheasant, the boar, the deer, the roe deer, and many more animals.
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