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Dry pastures

The result of centuries of pastoral farming (pasturing herds of farm animals over vast natural areas), these dry pastures are large stretches covered with short, sparse grasses, with here and there some small bushes.

They are known as "dry" because the limestone rock of the causse does not retain water. They are an unmistakable, defining characteristic of our area.

A bit of history :

Before Man became sedentary, the Causses du Quercy were covered by forest.

About 5000 B.C., the first farming communities began felling the forests to create farmland, and stock raising spread. For many centuries, the practice of pasturing animals and the regular cutting down of trees and bushes for domestic purposes (heating, cooking) contributed to the creation and maintenance of these vast areas of natural grassland.

 But over the last century, pastoralism has been in decline everywhere in Europe, and dry pastures have been declining along with it. The Causses du Quercy are one of the last great areas of dry pastures in France and the Caussenarde sheep does most of the work needed to maintain this specific habitat.

Abandoned by stock farmers, dry pastures tend to evolve into a forested habitat, and this trend then becomes very difficult to reverse.

 These dry pastures are also sometimes transformed into cultivated fields. Breaking up the stones and deep ploughing profoundly alter the habitat's natural conditions.

The restoration of dry pastures, when this is possible, is done by mechanical or manual clearing of the undergrowth, keeping the hedges and copses so that wild creatures can find the shelter they need to survive. Indeed, these natural habitats are home to species which are rare in France and in Europe, quite unusual animals which have been able to adapt to the aridity and the limestone ground.

 Walking idea :

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