PARTAGER

Stage 18: Briançon > Col d’Izoard

Steppes and desert of the Hautes-Alpes

This stage’s route on 20 July 2017 departs from Briançon and heads to the summit of the Izoard pass, by following the roads in the Durancien and Queyrassin Steppe Natura 2000 site (FR9301502). It also runs along the entire Rochebrune - Izoard - Cerveyrette Valley Natura 2000 site (FR9301503), which overlaps perfectly with the previous site.

These sites are both partly located on the Queyras Regional Natural Park.

vignette_67_33
texte_p_67_33

The Rochebrune – Izoard – Cerveyrette Valley site

This Natura 2000 site between Queyras and Briançonnais, located on average and high mountains between altitudes of 1400 m and 3320 m, has a Mediterranean mountain climate. It has a rich mosaic of natural habitats (larches, wetlands, mountain lakes, hay meadows, grasslands), including typical Queyras forest habitats (mountain pine forests, Swiss pines).

It also has special environments such as rock glaciers and scree. An example of these special environments is the scree and rocks site of the Casse Desert at the Izoard pass, which is a lunar landscape and a popular place for cycling (also a site classified for its heritage value). The scree covers 29% of the site!

The site's fauna and flora are very varied and include protected species (Aquilegia alpina, Isabelle de France) or those threatened with extinction such as the Pontic dragonhead, the large blue butterfly and the Lanza's alpine salamander.

Moreover, the humid zone of the Marais du Bourget, in the municipality of Cervières, is rich in species that are dependent on these environments (Amphibia, invertebrates, fish, Carpathian birch).

The site’s key figures

11 municipalities
26,700 ha 
28 natural habitats of Community interest
44 flora and fauna species of Community interest

The Durancien and Queyrassen Steppe site

This Natura 2000 site, located between altitudes of 780 m and 2330 m, occupies the bottom of the valleys of Haute-Durance and Guil, protected from Atlantic influences and disturbances coming from Italy. This means that there is rarely any rainfall, and it experiences large differences in temperature. The soil, which is generally poor and superficial, has vegetation similar to that of the steppes of Central Europe.

The climatic and geological conditions of the site favour the diversity of natural habitats (hay meadows, dry grasslands, limestone cliffs, hardwood and softwood forests, riparian forests).

The site’s key figures

11 municipalities
26,700 ha 
28 natural habitats of Community interest
44 flora and fauna species of Community interest

vignette_67_33
texte_p_67_33

In particular, steppic grasslands, which are rare on a European scale, can be observed, as well as a range of natural or semi-natural grasslands spreading from the hilly areas to the alpine areas.

The richness of the environments also extends to the continental salt meadows and to a thurifera. 

The fauna and flora, which is very varied, include protected species (the hermit beetle, Isabelle de France and Foxtail milkvetch, one of the last natural places it is found) and species threatened with extinction, such as the yellow-bellied toad and the Pontic dragonhead.

 

The site's conservation measures

Some of these natural environments are the result of ancient and perennial human activities such as pastoralism or scything.

The conservation of these environments is based on the continuation of these activities, particularly the scything of grasslands.