The Reforestation of the Aigoual Massif

During the Nineteenth Century, Aigoual was nothing more than a mountain stripped bare. Over-intensive forest management and the pressure of seasonal grazing meant that Aigoual's climate caused catastrophic flooding.
The rich vegetation found in these pasture lands, which had well deserved the title "Hort de Dieu" ("God's Garden"), turned into a landscape of heather and dreadful ravines. In 1856-7, the sheltered valleys at the foot of the mountain suffered terrible floods which brought tons of rocks down the mountain, and swept away spinning and other mills. This presaged disasters which would soon follow. On the 4th October 1861, clouds which had been building up from the South-West for three days suddenly sent down such a quantity of water and rocks that all the roads were cut, the factories devastated and the pasture land washed away. This was the moment for bringing the reforestation law into effect. The Commission in the Gard 17th October 1863 envisaged a protected area with a perimeter of 924 hercates, but this was not followed up.
The situation was becoming very serious, and it was then that the head of the Reforestation service, M. Grosjean, had the idea of creating an immense protective block of state forests on the slopes of Aigoual...

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