Landes is an area that is as beautiful as it is fragile. Its endless beaches, high dunes and pine forests form a delicate ecosystem whose balance must be preserved if it is to remain the paradise it is today. Here are some of the tips and information provided by the Tourist Offices.
SOME FACTS ABOUT BEACH CLEANLINESS
♦ 106 km of coastline
♦ 38 supervised bathing areas (approx. 20 km)
♦ Consistent cleanliness since 1991
♦ 13,500 m3 of waste collected, on average, per year
♦ 12 sensitive km cleaned by hand all year round
♦ 1.85 million euros per year
♦ 7.5 jobs per year
♦ 9.5 jobs per year in summer period
WASTE DECOMPOSITION TIME
The dunes are fragile. Waves are not the only cause of the retreat of the dune cordon; winter storms, but above all trampling, are clearly responsible for this worrying weakening. If we cross the dunes in disregard of the prohibitions, we cause a major destabilisation of this fragile environment. In addition to the destruction of the vegetation, our passage creates a path for the wind to enter with force, accelerating a process that can become irreversible.
Protecting the dune means protecting biodiversity and the fragile dune behind it, fighting against the advance of sand on the land, limiting marine erosion and preserving a first shield against the effects of large tides.
The Landes forest is the largest in Western Europe. Nine-tenths of it is devoted exclusively to the monoculture of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster), but in the centre of this pinhada (pine plantation in the Gascon dialect of Occitan), there is a natural forest. There, pines coexist with other species, mainly oak, alder, birch, willow and holly. This mixed temperate forest is more frequent along watercourses, where drainage is particularly good.
However, this monoculture of conifers leads to the sterilisation of the topsoil by the systematic leaching of nutrients from it. At a certain depth, the soil is hard and impermeable. Compared to other forest types, forests composed solely of conifers have very little biodiversity.
This is why it is so important to take extreme care and precautions when in the forest. The disasters of 1950 and 1960, when fire devastated more than 300,000 hectares of forest, must not be repeated.
THE FOREST IN NUMBERS
♦ First production forest in France
♦ 632,000 hectares
♦ 67% of the territory wooded
♦ 87% of maritime pines
♦ 90% of private forests
♦ 10,000 direct jobs