The Causses and the Cévennes, Mediterranean agro-pastoral Cultural Landscape
This 302,319 ha property, in the southern part of central France, is a mountain landscape interspersed by deep valleys that is representative of the relationship between agro-pastoral systems and their biophysical environment, notably through drailles or drove roads. Villages and substantial stone farmhouses on deep terraces of the Causses reflect the organization of large abbeys from the 11th century. Mont Lozère, inside the property, is one of the last places where summer transhumance is still practiced in the traditional way, using the drailles.
The upland landscapes of the Causses have been shaped by agro-pastoralism over three millennia. In the Middle Ages, the development of cities in the surrounding Mediterranean plains, and especially the growth of religious institutions, prompted the evolution of a land structure based on agro-pastoralism, the basis of which is still in place today. Too poor to host cities, too rich to be abandoned, the landscape of Causses and Cévennes are the result of the modification of the natural environment by agro-pastoral systems over a millennium. The Causses and Cévennes demonstrate almost every type of pastoral organisation to be found around the Mediterranean (agro-pastoralism, silvi-pastoralism, transhumance and sedentary pastoralism). The area has by a remarkable vitality as a result of active renewal of the agri-pastoral systems. This area is a major and viable example of Mediterranean agro-pastoralism. Its preservation is necessary to deal with threats from environmental, economic and social issues that such cultural landscapes are facing globally. The Causses and the Cévennes retain numerous testimonies of the evolution over several centuries of its pastoral societies. Their important built heritage, landscape characteristics and intangible associations that reflect traditional pastoralism will be sustained by a contemporary revival of agro-pastoralism.