© Nature Biodiversite Parc National Mercantour Isabelle Fabre | Isabelle Fabre

Nature and biodiversity

Incredible biodiversity

The Roya and Bévéra Valleys in the heart of Mercantour National Park stand out for their landscapes’ untamed beauty, unique botanical heritage and incredible array of flora and fauna. Join me and hit the paths to explore exceptional biodiversity!

Mercantour National Park,

a sprawling protected area!

Mercantour was one of the very first national parks in France and was inaugurated in 1979. It is twinned with its Italian counterpart the Parco Naturale delle Alpi Maritime. France and Italy work together to protect its outstanding nature and fragile biodiversity on both sides of the border. The park spans six untamed valleys including two in the Menton, Riviera & Merveilles area: Roya and Bévéra. Roya-Bévéra has two signature vibes: Mediterranean landscapes, that are dry in the lower valleys where olive trees grow, and Alpine landscapes in the upper valleys where waterfalls and green and turquoise lakes abound.

BIODIVERSITY

The French Office for Biodiversity says: “biodiversity applies to any living thing and the ecosystem they live in. The term also covers how species interact with each other and their habitat.” Mankind would struggle to meet its basic needs without biodiversity: we need to protect its balance for today’s and future generations.

Protected

Natura 2000 sites

There are four Natura 2000 sites in the Roya Valley: 2293m high Mont Chajol and its tufts of mountain pine, the Breil-sur-Roya bat site, the limestone range in the Marguareis-La Brigue-Fonton-Saorge area and the La Bendola site in Saorge home to 16 natural protected habitats (dry grassland, wild orchids etc.). So, why are these sites listed? To protect the species or habitats that represent European biodiversity and take the challenges of biodiversity in human activities into account. The future depends on finding a compromise between protecting nature and human activities!

Mercantour flora,

look don’t touch!

Over 2000 different species have been found throughout the park including forty native ones. The saxifraga florulenta grows in cracks in the rockface and only flowers once in its long life, but it’s worth the wait! The downy-leaved berardia lanuginosa blooms in limestone scree. The gymnadenia corneliana is a species of orchid with light-pink petals that grows amongst the grass. The Mercantour landscapes are home to other dazzling species that need our protection: the dog rose, delicate and magical alpine columbine, spring gentian, trumpet gentian and orange lily.

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