You are here :
The massif of the Alpilles forms the last mountainous area before the great Rhône delta. It is a land where less intensive crops grow(vines, olive trees) and pastures (Camargue bulls, sheep and goats) exist alongside wild countryside (cliffs, ridges and oak).
Numerous nesting sites dot the area as well as many cavities suitable for bats meaning that fifteen species are present, with some of the major sites within the for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.
LAWS PROTECTING THE STUDY AREA
At national level:
- A regional Order for the protection of the habitat.
At regional level:
- Regional Natural Park of the Alpilles,
- Four sites classified under the Landscape Act,
- Natural Areas of Ecological Interest Fauna and Flora.
SCIENTIFIC DESCRIPTION OF THE STUDY AREA
The massif of the Alpilles has an ancient geological formation, which is unique and is composed of hard limestone. It forms the last relief (max altitude: 493 m) before the great delta of the Rhone, where it occupies an isolated position, dominant and without transition to the surrounding plains.
The variety of environmental conditions present on the massif (microclimatic variations and altitude influences various human activities ...) is at the origin of the wealth and diversity of fauna and flora. The landscape is a combination of woodland (45% of the surface, especially pines and oaks) and open areas (38% of heath land and grassland) interspersed with rocky environments (5%). The presence of numerous cavities of human origin (quarries, mines, bridges) or natural origin (caves, sinkholes ...) is a factor favourable for bats.
(Source: objective document of the massif of the Alpilles, CIGALE 2007)
IMPORTANCE OF THE PROJECT AREA FOR THE CONSERVATION OF TWO TARGET SPECIES
The main interest of the Alpilles from the point of view of the project lies in its wealth of underground cavities, not less than four quarries, 17 mines, 30 natural cavities and several infrastructures (bridges, aqueducts, tunnels ...) have been identified. In the area, regarding the target species, we have recorded the presence of:
- 150 Greater horseshoe bats in the winter, at five sites: the size of the winter population near the Alpilles in relation to that of the Rhone delta suggests that the massif is likely to be a major wintering area for the Camargue population of the Greater Horseshoe Bat , especially as some cavities are still to be explored, the inclusion of the site is consistent with the overall objective of the project bearing in mind the main causes of decline of the species, such as those affecting hibernation grounds.
- At least 20 Greater Horseshoe Bats and 140 Geoffroy‘s Bats pass the summer in two common sites.
The massif of the Alpilles is significant for the reproduction of the two target species (especially Geoffroy’s Bat) and may well become even more important.