Aude: a peat bog to store water from the Montagne Noire

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Aude: a peat bog to store water from the Montagne Noire

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In Aude, Ecodiv naturalists have identified more than 300 wetlands on the Montagne Noire. Among these, peatlands are real “sponges” which preserve water resources.

From there… “watch out for tremors,” warns Nicolas Lassalle. Les Tremblants? It is this spongy ground on which the foot becomes uncertain. Two tufts of grass seem to promise safe passage. Lost. But knee-deep water doesn’t matter. The place deserves a small paddling pool, like the cows that come to graze there.

At an altitude of 1000 m on the side of the Montagne Noire above the village of Martys, 35 km from Carcassonne, 5 ha of a rich peat bog come back to life on this plot of Moussels that Nicolas, 62, exploits in GAEC with his son. Camille and Cécile, her daughter-in-law.

“We are returning to the original state of this wetland”

“There was a willow there. The stump has been torn out, the water has risen,” emphasizes the breeder in front of a puddle: a “guille”. Cleaned, the grove now gives way to a vast wet meadow. Further on, on the part deforested the previous year, ponds are already forming. “In terms of flora, the sundew, a carnivorous plant, is flourishing,” underlines Nicolas. Slowworms and snakes too, rejoices the naturalist of the Ecodiv association, Jean Muratet, who is following the project after having carried out a diagnosis of the site, in partnership with the Chamber of Agriculture.

Give nature back its rights so that biodiversity benefits… including these vigorous herbaceous plants feeding the rustic Gasconnes of the GAEC, when they come back down from the Pyrenees at the end of September: since 2022, the project is moving forward and succeeding. Trees and roots torn up in piles… “In fact, we are returning to the original state of this wetland,” continues Nicolas.

Before the war? There was in fact neither forest nor thick willow groves here… but a mountain mosaic of pastures and peat bogs maintained by farms with many hands. Then the rural exodus struck. “People went to the gold mine of Salsignes or the wool industry of Mazamet,” remembers Nicolas. No one left to mow or cut… Faced with the decline of agriculture, the breeders – fewer in number – found themselves alone to maintain the mountain with their herds. Without being able to be everywhere. “The willows began to prosper by pumping water from this immense sponge placed on a granite basin,” explains Jean Muratet. Issue.

“La Montagne Noire is one of the two water towers in Aude”

“The Montagne Noire is one of the two water towers of Aude, with the Pyrenees,” recalls Francis Morlon, vice-president of the Departmental Council (CD11) in charge of ecological transition. And “The Moussels are at the sources of the Rieutort which flows into the Orbiel, a tributary of the Aude,” underlines Nicolas. Not a detail, given the recent droughts and knowing that these waters also supply the Canal du Midi, a navigation and irrigation route classified by UNESCO, which attracts the whole world.

“This project therefore makes it possible to secure and preserve an essential resource but also to promote peasant work and agropastoralism,” summarizes Francis Morlon.

Overcoming mutual distrust between naturalists and farmers

Indeed, the Aude Chamber of Agriculture has built the keystone: trust, accompanied by a charter of commitment. “Wetlands are often experienced as a constraint by the agricultural world, this problem has made it possible to overcome the mutual distrust between naturalists and farmers,” underlines Agnès Alquié, agro-environment and territories manager of the chamber.

“Finding and maintaining the good ecological and functional state of wetlands is an issue of general interest to society and our common objective”, she continues… But beyond that, this project presents another major interest, everyone agrees: “raise farmers’ awareness of the service they provide to society while society discovers the service that farmers provide. Tomorrow this peat bog will also become an open-air classroom for schoolchildren and college students as part of a developed course.

“exemplary cooperation”

5 ha of peat bog is approximately 50,000 cubic meters of water, or 50 million liters. But also the symbol of “exemplary cooperation” underlines Vincent Dumeunier, head of biodiversity strategy at CD11 and one of the driving forces behind the project. “The department financed the inventory of the wetlands of the Montagne Noire while the Chamber of Agriculture – in partnership with the local agricultural development group – is raising awareness among operators to regain or maintain the functionality of the spaces,” summarizes. he. In total, there are 500 ha of wetlands on 300 sites including 250 on plots managed by breeders which have been identified by the SMMAR (Mixed Union of Aquatic Environments and Rivers), a beautiful reserve including the CD11 and the Agence de water can finance restoration work, if necessary.

Aude: a peat bog to store water from the Montagne Noire - 1

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Peter Hughes

industrial designer with a passion for creativity and innovation. Since 2015, he has dedicated his expertise to shaping the world through his designs. Prior to his current role, Peter served as a teaching assistant at the NY Institute of Information Technology, sharing his knowledge and guiding aspiring minds. Additionally, he holds the esteemed position of Editor-in-Chief at PlayStation Game Station LLC, fueling his love for gaming and the digital world. Beyond his professional pursuits, Peter embraces life as an explorer, immersing himself in new experiences, a social media fanatic, a travel geek, an alcohol enthusiast, and a specialist in music. Through his multifaceted interests, Peter continually seeks to broaden his horizons and make a positive impact on the world around him.