Dehesas in France
19.12.2017, by Bénédicte Gaillard
The entries are still in process, the e-atlas is still under development
Dehesas always existed but are now tremendously diminishing and are being replaced. This evolution is mainly due to the increase of intensive agriculture, to the development of enclosed fields and to the high level or urbanisation.
Christian Huyghe, Alain Peeters, Alex De Vliegher. La prairie en France et en Europe. Colloque présentant les méthodes et résultats du projet Climagie (métaprogramme ACCAF), Nov 2015, Poitiers, France. INRA, 223 p., 2015
It occurs. From Middle Age until the 17th Century the dehesas could include waste land, scrubland (garrigue), moors, common land and forest places. But they were all subject to a grazing right. They represented around 30% of the territory in 1840. Since the 1970’s dehesas are the semi natural milieu that decreased the most in France, losing 7% between 1992 and 2003. They disappear because of afforestation and housing.
It is meant for all sorts of breeding (cattle, sheep, porcine, poultry).
They can be found in valleys, mountains and there are permanent dehesas as well as temporary dehesas.
They are still in use today. In the last 50 years there is a consequential diminution of dehesas and forage crop and an almost total disparition of root and tuber (fodder beet), a strong decline of legume in pure crop, an important decline in surface of permanent dehesas, in particular the surfaces always in herbs less production, which are abandoned. But there is an augmentation of temporary dehesas with a deep recomposition of the artificial dehesas.
In addition the territory is heterogeneous in terms of dehesas, with in the West and Centre-West regions annual forages and temporary dehesas that prevail, in the semi-mountain regions mainly productive permanent dehesas predominate and in the South East the surfaces always in herb less productive constitute the majority of the dehesas.
There are different types of soils:
- agricultural soils: cultivated soils and always in herbs
- natural soils: wooded soils, moors, bush, scrubland, natural bare soils, wetland and under water
- artificial soils: constructions, roads, bare soils, agricultural and forest paths, surface in herbs used for non agricultural purposes.
They are well known to the public and considered important since they participate in the beauty of the scenic landscape.