Located south east of France, it is both a regional nature Park and a biosphere reserve.
The natural areas are for some part exceptional in terms of diversity and richness, and there is no human impact. Part of the territory is used and occupied by human activities.
The Luberon-Lure site is in the Medforval Cluster « Mountain Mixed Deciduous Forests ». It covers an area of almost 250 thousands ha, and has one hundred and seventy thousand inhabitants. The climate is Mediterranean with some alpine influence since the altitude ranges from 50 to almost 1900 m high.
The Luberon Regional Nature Park is the site manager of the biosphere reserve. The reserve covers the Luberon Mountain and the south slope of Lure Mountain located in the north east of the biosphere. This is also a European and Global geopark which is a UNESCO label. The Luberon-Lure biosphere reserve includes 10 Natura 2000 sites.
There are diverse types of natural habitats. Some of them are used as natural resources. Our attempt is to manage them in a sustainable way. Here are few examples:
1) FORESTS: We work hand in hand with the landowners and the forest managers to define areas of the forest that will remain untouched for conservation purposes, and areas that will be harvested. The wood is used as a resource for firewood, in the paper industry and as timber. We encourage landowners to use “ the close to nature” type of forestry which respects the forest dynamics.
2) OPEN AREAS: We have contracts with shepherds and cattle owners. In addition, grazing supervision is done through pastoral farming Specialists and scientists.
3) WETLANDS: Landowners get contracted by the Park to maintain wetlands. Regarding river Management, plans are implemented to protect and control water quality. These plans are also supported at the county and the regional levels.
4) CLIFFS: Trails and big sports events are kept at a safe distance from birds of prey nesting on the cliff.
The biodiversity is outstandingly rich with several European top habitats and species.
Concerning the forest of the Biosphere : 42% are made of deciduous trees: mostly oak, and less common but of great interest beech, maple, lime forests, and riparian forests;18,5% are conifers; 17% are a mixed of both; And 22,5% is garrigue with trees.
The “interface” between grasslands and forests are very important for the diversity. Lawns crests of the Luberon are of great ecological significance for many species of wildlife and protected flora and fauna. For example, the Luberon is home to one of the finest French large bird of prey, the Circaetus gallicus, or snake eagle. Its presence is related to the mosaic of cliffs, forests and open areas. It nests in pine forests and hunts in open areas.
Wetlands are of great significance in our Mediterranean dry context. They are located inside forests or alongside them. Rivers and their banks with riparian forests are also of interest. They represent corridors. Unfortunately, they have been threatened for long time and are currently still in danger.
In the Luberon most soils are made of limestone. However, the ochres sites are siliceous. The acidity of the soil combined with the Mediterranean climate result in the fact that the ochres are the home of rare species.
AGE AND MATURITY
The ancientness and continuity of the forest coverage has an influence on the biodiversity (regardless of the forestry management) according to Dupouey.
Different Luberon forest types were evaluated, compared and ranked according to their degree of naturalness and ancientness. The criteria that were used were taken from the WWF method. This data allows us to determine biodiversity reservoirs and to assess the ecological continuity of the forest.
3 types of biodiversity reservoirs in Luberon-Lure forests :
- Forests with low maturity, with diverse tree species
- Forests with old trees, but with low diversity of tree species
- Forests with high diversity and maturity
Inventory of forest biodiversity reservoirs (2016) : 239 forest biodiversity reservoirs were described in the Luberon-Lure biosphere reserve, it represents 1392 ha (1204 ha still has to be described). Pubescents oak dominates, then comes the Green oak and beech. The size of 53% the inventoried reservoirs is from 1 to 5 ha, that’s the size recommended for old growth patches (2009, Rouveyrol). 59% are in public forests
Dispersal corridor - Forest reserve (Free evolving forests) - Old-growth patch (Senescence islet) - Habitat tree
STRENGTHS AND OPPORTUNITIES
•Forest Charter for the Luberon-Lure territory (2004) : relationships with public and private partners ; several tools
•Exceptional natural areas protected in the Luberon Park Charter (2007)
•Natura 2000 (2005)
•Rivers management plans
•Alpages sentinelles for grassland on the top of Luberon mountain – partnerships with other alpine parks regarding climate change and grazing
•The regional scheme for ecological coherence – Provence (2014):
- Conserving corridors /ecological continuities in Urbanisms plans
- Action 14: « Développer et soutenir des pratiques forestières favorables aux continuités écologiques » = « Develop and sustain forest management enhancing ecological continuities »
→ In the Luberon-Lure through an old-growth and ancient forests connected network and the biodiversity inside forest by increasing the knowledge and the reconnaissance of ecological continuities for old trees and forests, dead wood and wetlands
Thanks to Natura 2000 contract for example old growth trees and patches can be preserved.
•Good knowledge now about old-growth and ancient forest :
- Mapping of ancient forests 1860-1870
- Several studies
- Old-growth and ancient forest network inventory
Knowledge can be shared thanks to a geodatabase with internet access. This database is shared with several parks in the south of France.
WEAKNESSES AND THREATS
•Reduction of financial
•A lot of private forest and lack of link with private owners ; still risk of cut of forest of high ecological value that are rare
•Communication and education must be increased. Convincing without funding
•Climate change specially for grasslands; difficulties to maintain shepherds
•Balance between tourism and conservation
•Pressure for more wood due to increasing need for biomass
MEDFORVAL: INTEREST IN THE NETWORK
We are looking for:
•Success stories (forest sustainable management, ecological corridors conservation and restoration, pastoralism specially regarding climate change…)
We can offer/share:
•Inventory method for ancient forest and biodiversity reservoirs
•The Natura 2000 method and « benefits /limits »