With the aim of preserving fragile natural sites, the Cantal department has introduced the "Espaces Naturels Sensibles" label. As part of its territorial project, the Hautes Terres Communauté has chosen to invest in the careful management of these Sensitive Natural Areas (ENS), combining the preservation and development of the sites. These sensitive natural areas can be explored by strolling around lakes, peat bogs, boulder fields, summer pasture plateaux and terraced farmland.
The Hautes Terres region boasts a vast diversity of landscapes and fauna and flora.
The 5 listed sites include wetlands, summer pastures, woodlands, traditional farming areas and volcanic sites: a vast variety of areas that are home to rare and protected species.
Signposted interpretation trails allow visitors to discover these natural environments while showing respect for them. And to learn more about the biodiversity of each of these sites, the Ecobalade app helps you recognise trees by their leaves, plants by their flowers, animal footprints and even birdsong!
Plateau of summer pastures at Chastel-sur-Murat
The Lac du Pêcher, on the edge of the Pinatelle forest massif and Le Cézallier plateau, is a former peat bog located at an altitude of 1,100 m.
The lake is of outstanding scenic interest and is home to a wide variety of plants, odonata and birds. It is also a popular spot for birdwatchers and anglers.
The trail winds its way up to the heights around the lake, offering an exceptional panoramic view of the Cantalien landscape.
Le lac du Pêcher
A boulder field overlooked by a cliff: basalt rock in all its splendour.
The site is surprising in that it is surrounded by the summer pastures of Le Cézallier. Don’t be fooled by its desert-like appearance: these rocks are a privileged habitat for discreet species such as the adder, a host of birds and an extraordinary wealth of plant life.
Boulder field of Landeyrat
At an altitude of 1,220m, this site is a grazing area for herds of cows in summer. Volcanic flows have created deep valleys where shallow lakes have formed, which over time have become peat bogs. These fragile, damp yet seemingly isolated environments are home to many species of flora, such as peat moss.
This damp environment is an ideal habitat for frogs and other amphibians, as well as other species! They are also home to many birds and butterflies.
The summer pastures of the Chastel-sur-Murat plateau
To tackle this unique site in the Cantal department, you’ll need to work your calf muscles! The terraced farmlands are hard earned!
Now reclaimed by vines, fruit trees and aromatic plants, this hillside was covered in forest until the early 2000s.
The trail is lined with signs evoking the hard labour that went into building and maintaining the dry-stone walls, thus creating the ideal conditions for the vines to grow. In the course of the explanations, you’ll pick up a few Occitan terms!
Les Palhàs de Molompize
This peat ecosystem is irreplaceable, which is why in addition to being a Espace Naturel Sensible (Sensitive Natural Area), the site has become a Réserve Naturelle Régionale (Regional Nature Reserve).
Walk along the peat bogs, into the forest, then the panoramic view, and finally reach the lake. Along the way, you’ll come across the meadowsweet, dragonflies, and look out for the discreet great crested newt.
You may see a farmer working on the site: the meadows are farmed in accordance with the reserve’s management directives, in order to preserve its biodiversity.
Guided walks are organised on a regular basis to help visitors understand how a peat bog works and its importance to the global ecosystem, particularly in terms of carbon storage.
Le Jolan and La Gazelle peat bogs
The Ecobalade app (downloadable free of charge from the Play Store and Apple Store) gives you the chance to discover these five sites and learn more about their biodiversity. You won’t miss a thing, thanks to a series of keys to help you decipher the animal and plant species that can be found on these sites.
Be sure to download the application and the walks onto your smartphone beforehand!
The Ecobalade app and website