On 28 June 2011, at its 35th session, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee declared the Causses and Cevennes, a cultural landscape shaped by Mediterranean pastoral farming, to be of outstanding universal value and included them on its World Heritage List.
What is the UNESCO heritage ?
Unesco encourages the identification, protection, and preservation of the cultural and natural heritage in the world. In the frame of an international convention, signed in 1972, "world Heritage" is the term given to sites of "exceptional universal value". To be listed as a World Heritage site, a natural or cultural site must comply with very strict criteria.
The Causses and the Cevennes showcase the evolution of pastoral societies over three thousand years.
The key detail about this landscape is its authenticity- ancient farms and villages, footpaths and shepherd trails, and remarkably well-preserved structures and water management systems that date back to the dawn of time.
History and landscapes are closely related and may be admired at the many exceptional sites, such as the Tarn gorges.
A living sanctuary
You may come across four main types of animal husbandry on your path. On the Causses, there are flocks of sheep bred for their milk and meat. Sheep and goats may also be found in the Cevennes, while sheep and cows are commonly found in the land around the Mont Lozère. Throughout the territory, in the summer months, do not be surprised to find flocks of sheep on their seasonal migration.
Some witnesses of a pastoral society :
paths followed by flocks for their seasonal migration ( drailles)
standing stones which serve to mark the boundary of the paths used by the flocks (montjoie)
boundary stones for the territory
summer pastures and rangelands (Estives et terrains de parcours)
Religious and military buildings, valuable signs testifying to the role of religious and military monastic orders in the construction of the landscape.
Terraced slopes- Land farmed on terraces typical in the landscape (bancels)
cheese cellars, caves and swallow holes were used for storing cheese.
Isolated farms and hamlets...................
From site to site, discoveries and atmospheres succeed one another and promise powerful emotions and wonderful encounters.