Earth Science News  





. France's 'wild west' holds up against modernity

The delta is a maze of largely empty roads, salt flats, fresh and salt water lagoons, pink flamingos, and is a major wintering spot for hundreds of thousands of migrating waterbirds.
by Staff Writers
Arles, France (AFP) April 23, 2009
The Camargue, Europe's largest wetland and home to a dwindling breed of French-style "cowboys", is fighting to preserve its unique environment and identity despite the damage done by tourism and nearby industries.

"In France, when people think of the Camargue, they are thinking of something which hasn't existed in centuries," said Patrick Grillas, a local environmentalist.

"They think of wild nature, with wild horses, wild bulls. But the reality is completely different," he said.

There are black bulls -- bred for meat and for a local form of bullfighting -- and white horses native to the Camargue but they have not roamed freely for many years.

These beasts add to the rich history and tradition of the region, but its overriding interest is the unique ecology of this triangle of land wedged between two branches of the mighty Rhone river and the Mediterranean sea.

The delta is a maze of largely empty roads, salt flats, fresh and salt water lagoons, pink flamingos, and is a major wintering spot for hundreds of thousands of migrating waterbirds.

The Camargue has to fight a never-ending battle with nature -- it is under constant threat of flooding from the Rhone -- and with the workings of man in the 930 square kilometre (360 square mile) area.

The area around one of its lagoons -- a haven for around 400 different types of bird -- has been protected as a regional park for decades and last year was incorporated into the larger Camargue national park

But just to the east of the Camargue lies Fos-sur-Mer, one of the biggest industrial complexes in the Mediterranean basin whose factories and oil refinery pose a constant threat of pollution.

And to the west is La Grande Motte, one of France's biggest beach resorts.

-- That's why people come and see us --

---------------------------------------

Another danger is the winding down of many salt production facilities due to cheaper salt coming in to France from abroad, said environmentalist Grillas.

"By keeping water levels high in a region that is dry in summer, they (salt producers) have created zones that are extremely favourable for waterbirds and for their reproduction," he said.

If no-one steps in to maintain the dykes built by the salt companies, water levels will fall and nesting zones will dry up, he warned.

The north of the Camargue is largely made of agricultural land, which is used to grow cereals, grapes and rice and is home to the famous bulls and white horses of the region.

The bulls are herded by the around 40 remaining "gardians" who ride the hardy local horses to round them up for market or to take them to a "course camarguaise" in which young men try to snatch a ribbon from between a bull's horns.

"It would be impossible to do this without a horse," said Jacques Bon, a sprightly 82-year-old Camargue landowner as he mounted a horse called Elegant to demonstrate his bull-herding skills.

Bon, who along with his wife has set up a luxury hotel named Le Mas de Peint and a bull-ring on the land he was born on, does this just for fun these days, but he employs two full-time "gardians" to look after his herd."

"Gardians" are a prominent feature in the cultural life of the Camargue, taking part in processions for saint's day celebrations as well as in the bull-running games.

"That's why people come and see us," said Bon, referring to the tens of thousands of tourists who brave the region's notorious mosquitoes every summer.

Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com




Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
'G8-Plus' vow stronger commitments on protecting biodiversity
Syracuse, Italy (AFP) April 23, 2009
The environment ministers of rich and emerging nations Thursday pledged new commitments to stopping biodiversity loss even with resources hit hard by the global financial crisis.

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  



  • Berlusconi's flatpack solution for Italy quake homeless
  • 10 dead in north China factory collapse: government
  • Italy proposes moving G8 summit to quake-hit city
  • Slow foreign aid risks loss of US clout to China: Clinton

  • Critical Turning Point Can Trigger Abrupt Climate Change
  • Obama 'zeal' gives hope to G8 climate change talks
  • New momentum for global climate pact despite 'gaps'
  • Czech presidency claims leading role in EU-Japan summit

  • A Glimpse Of Future GMES Sentinel-1 Radar Images
  • Nigerian Engineers Learn To Map African Resources Using NigeriaSat-1
  • Satellites Show How Earth Moved During Italy Quake
  • RISAT2 Can See Through Thick Clouds

  • Miami To Lead Nation With Smart Grid Initiative
  • Profits rise for China's oil firms: state media
  • Discovery Of An Unexpected Boost For Solar Water-Splitting Cells
  • DOE Asks Heating Industry To Review Furnace Efficiency Standards

  • WHO: Swine flu has pandemic potential
  • Mexico shuts schools over deadly influenza epidemic
  • Phase 1 malaria vaccine trial to begin
  • Economic crisis threatens AIDS fight: expert

  • International Team Cracks Mammalian Gene Control Code
  • France's 'wild west' holds up against modernity
  • 'G8-Plus' vow stronger commitments on protecting biodiversity
  • Study finds worm is actually two species

  • Chair Of UK Environment Agency Discusses Brownfield Cleanups
  • Pollution in Chinese cities 'extremely severe': minister
  • Workplace vibration causes physical ills
  • Vietnam PM halts controversial hotel in park: govt

  • Hong Kong architect squeezes 24 rooms into one tiny flat
  • Now Where Did I Leave My Car
  • Vegan, non-vegetarian bone density same
  • African pygmy genetics are traced

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement