Forêt du Parc naturel régional Loire-Anjou-Touraine

Forests and wooded areas

The forest of the Loire-Anjou-Touraine Park is a hiking, leisure and relaxation spot. Did you know it covers close to one third of the territory and keeps growing year after year? Take a walk in the wooded areas and check out oak, chestnut and pine trees!

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Enfilez vos chaussures de marche, et partez à la découverte des forêts du Parc Loire-Anjou-Touraine : déconnexion garantie !
Avec à peine un tiers de sa superficie occupée par des forêts, le Parc offre des paysages de différentes échelles, du petit bosquet au massif de plusieurs milliers d’hectares. Les ambiances forestières y sont tout aussi variées, et alternent entre :

  • Des forêts de feuillus, qui couvrent près de 40 % de la surface boisée. Les chênes pédoncules et sessiles sont présents sur les sols les plus riches. Ils sont parfois accompagnés de châtaigniers, de hêtres ou de pins.
  • Des forêts de conifères, composées surtout de pin sylvestre et de pin maritime. Pour la plupart plantées au cours du XXe siècle, ces arbres s’accommodent de sols pauvres et acides. Les pinèdes représentent 21 % de la surface en forêt du Parc. Leur développement a influencé la toponymie de certains lieux, comme La Breille devenue La-Breille-les-Pins en 1958.
  • Des forêts de boisements mixtes alternent entre résineux et feuillus. Elles concernent 17% environ de la surface boisée. Elles. On les retrouve un peu partout sur le territoire.
  • Des landes, composées d’arbustes et d’arbrisseaux. Paysage plus ouvert, elles peuvent couvrir de grandes étendues et abritent une biodiversité riche.
  • Des peupleraies, ces plantations d’arbres alignés s’observent surtout dans les vallées. Elles représentent environ 6% de la surface mais sont en déclin.

La forêt fait partie intégrante de l’identité du territoire. A l’origine, elle couvrait une superficie bien plus importante. Mais au Moyen Age, des communautés religieuses s’implantent et le nombre d’habitants s’accroit. Le défrichement organisé transforme la forêt en espaces cultivés. La forêt est quasiment absente des vallées (en dehors de la ripisylve, végétation en bordure des cours d’eau) et se concentre sur les terres les moins fertiles pour l’agriculture : notamment les plateaux et les buttes.

Depuis 10 ans, la surface forestière du Parc augmente légèrement, principalement aux marges des grands massifs. Cette progression est essentiellement due aux difficultés du secteur agricole causant l’abandon des terres les moins faciles  à cultiver. Les sols de sables et d’argiles, déposés sur les plateaux calcaires, sont en effet acides et de faible qualité. Rendus à la nature, ils sont d’abord colonisés par une végétation basse, formant ce qu’on appelle la lande, avant d’évoluer lentement vers la forêt.

La préservation et la gestion durable de ces espaces sont des enjeux majeurs. La forêt constitue une ressource précieuse, tant sur le plan écologique qu’économique. Elle est le refuge de nombreuses espèces animales et végétales. Elle offre à ses visiteurs un lieu de promenade et de contemplation de la nature, ainsi qu’une fraîcheur bienvenue en été. Une pause idéale dans un quotidien bien rempli…

 

The Park’s main forest massifs

Which are the big forest areas of the Loire-Anjou-Touraine Park?
The Milly / Gennes massif is very large but fragmented. It is dominated by deciduous trees such as sessile or pedunculate oaks, chestnut trees, … The centre of the massif is the state-owned forest of Milly. After its acquisition by the State in the 1950s, it has been afforested with pine trees.

The famous Chinon forest has been a playground for Kings for a long time: Louis XI regularly came to hunt deer. After the French Revolution, it became property of the State. The Chinon forest has the Park’s most beautiful sessile oak population. You can also find remains of the former American military camp set up in Saint-Benoit-la-Forêt in 1951 there.

The Breille-les-Pins / Bourgueil massif is characterised by maritime pines, especially in its Eastern part where the poor soils limit the implantation of other varieties of trees. On richer soils, you can also find chestnut and sessile oak trees.

And last but not least, the Fontevraud forest, mainly occupied by the same named military camp. It initially belonged to the Fontevraud and Seuilly abbeys, then to the State who sold it in batches to private persons. In 1917, the State bought back part of the forest and offered it to the American artillery as a training ground. After the departure of the Americans, the cavalry of Saumur took possession of the place. The rest of the forest is mainly in private hands and almost exclusively covered with deciduous trees.

carrefour forestier vu du ciel en forêt de Chinon

Forests and moors, connected places

The Loire-Anjou-Touraine Park is characterised by the presence of some moors. They are not cultivated, nor are they regularly looked after. It is almost impossible to enter these places which are covered with low and colourful vegetation such as heather, gorse and broom.

How do moors develop? They evolve on cleared and abandoned land which is not suitable for agriculture or livestock farming. At first, only wild bushes and small trees grow on the poor soil. Then, bigger trees start to appear (oaks, willows, pines, etc.), transforming the moor little by little into a forest.

Sometimes, human interventions like clearance or harvesting help to rejuvenate the habitats, allowing to maintain them at a certain stage of development.
Moors have played an important role in history: they supply litter and food for cattle as well as heathland and the famous heather used for the production of brooms, roofs, fences, … Clay from the moors was often used for producing bricks, tiles and pottery. By the way, it is still used near Langeais.

The moors have been losing ground ever since the 19th century. Some have been transformed into farmland using fertilizers or chalk. Others which had been used as grazeland for sheep have been abandoned and return to become a forest. After the Second World War many of them have been replaced by conifer plantations.

Where to discover moors today? You will find these habitats in the Chinon and Milly forests, at the Roman Camp in Cinais, Saint-Martin, Langeais and on the wooded plateaus of the Gâtine of Tours. The military camps of Fontevraud and Ruchard also have big moors, but they are not open to the public.

paysage de landes au camp des romains à Cinais

What about sustainable forest management on the Park territory?

Sustainable forest development and the organisation of the wood sector takes a lot of coordination between stakeholders. Most of this coordination is done by the National Office of Forests (ONF) and the regional delegation of the National Forest Ownership Centre (CRPF).
There are different documents giving guidelines for sylvicultural management: the forestry Code sets the frame for the management and protection of public forests on a national level. The framework for private woods depends on their surface:

  • A Simplified Management Plan is mandatory for privately owned forests that cover a continuous area of more than 25 ha. This document includes the cutting and works program and intends to ensure the sustainable management of the wooded area.
  • • The Code of good sylvicultural practices, drawn up by the regional delegation of the National Forest Ownership Centre (CRPF), lists recommendations for owners of small private forests.

Which opportunities lay ahead for the sylvicultural sector? The best timber is destined to construction, furniture, woodwork and cooperage. The rest serves to produce packaging, plywood, paper, … The development of district heating increases the part of renewable energies on the territory.
Timber harvesting generates economic activities and sustains the renewal of the forest at the same time. Don’t be surprised if you see clear-cut parts in a forest. This is authorised if they are compensated naturally or by plantations. Should you have any questions concerning the sylvicultural practices on the territory, the Park will be happy to inform and help you.
Raising temperatures increase the fire risk and worsens the water deficit. It already has an impact on certain species such as the pedunculate oak or the beech tree which have a hard time coping with summer drought.

coupe de bois dans la forêt de Montreuil-Bellay

What is allowed in the forest?

In 2018, 89% of the Park’s forests are in private hands, 6% are state-owned and 5% are public (belonging to municipalities or the army).

How do you know if you are allowed to take a walk in a forest? State- and public-owned forests are open to the public, with occasional exceptions. Picking is allowed within reasonable limits.
Private owners have the choice whether to open their domains to the public or not. If access is prohibited, there has to be a sign or a fence. In the absence of signage, walkers can enter the forest. Careful though: fruit, mushrooms, flowers, plants etc. belong to the forest owner. Picking might be considered as stealing. It is also prohibited to have any commercial activity based on products picked in others people’s properties without their specific consent. Please remember that you walk in a private property where your presence is only tolerated!
Hunting is authorised on the Park territory in order to regulate fauna. Growing populations of big game (boar, stag, roe deer ...) can harm the natural regeneration of the forest. Each municipality displays the prefectorial decree regulating the annual hunting period at the townhall and on their website. Hunt organisers are obliged to put up temporary signs informing about an ongoing hunt, at least along roads and paths crossing the hunting zone.

groupe de promeneurs en forêt
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