Forest of the Holy-Balsam
The massive of the Holy-Balsam , with horse between the departments of the Rhone delta and the Var constitutes a mountainous and forest entity. To only 30 km in the east of Marseilles, and 22 km of the sea, they are 45.000 ha of drill of only one holding representing a very rich unit on the plan of the flora and fauna without speaking about geology and a history a remarkable past.
A different landscape enters ubac and the adret
There is a great difference between the mountain Ubac and the quite Mediterranean Adret. The national forest covers 1800 ha between 350 and approximately 1020 m, include ubac between the plate of the plan of Aups (700 m) mountain limit; and the peaks which reach 1148 m; include the circus of Castelette or takes its source the Huveaune. But the forest is also communal and private (Cassien Saint, make Moorish etc).
The mountain part with ubac of the high chain between 700 and more than de 1000 m, out of 12 km of west in east. It breaks up into three distinct parts: In the less wet west and more been windy, approximately 500 ha of grove of pines woodland interfered oaks pubescent, with residual small islands of hêtraie, with under wood of Yew, Houx, maple, Lime, Sorb some Fir tree S and introduced Cedar S (small valley of Betton).
In the center 150 ha approximately of old women and mature standing timbers of pubescent oaks, limes, maples between 670 and 760m, hêtraie pure with the top to collar of the Saint Rammer have had 952 Mr. C' is the most known zone, protected for 2000 years by the Dominican monks. Finally in the east the forest of the béguines to the foot of the 300 m height cliff is composed of pubescent oaks, limes, maples houx, yews, and a narrow band of hêtraie in young grove. This part of the forest was formerly regularly cut has white as an exploitation of the firewood, charcoal. That on approximately 400 ha.
In the east with ubac of the Eastern end of the high chain, in the private field of St-cassien reappears the woodland forest of pine, then with ubac of the baou of Saint Cassien (1051 m) a hêtraie " sauvage" on about fifty hectare with hazel trees buckthorns of the Alps, currant bushes, with beyond is prolonged the Anise plate covered with an immense forest of pubescent oaks, pines woodland on 700 ha. Partially occupied by the national forest of Mazaugues with on the mourre of Agnis (919 m) and sticks it afforestations in cedars. With the adret of the chain the yeuseraie with pines of Alep much drier appears.
The adret of the chain suffered from the fires, as well as the western slope between temenos, cuges the pines and the peak of bertagne (1042 m) in the past covered with pine of Alep up to approximately 800 m then of holm oaks, the latter push back stocks, the pines of Alep arrive resowed. One finds even in adret of the high chain of the small islands of oaks pubescent and pines of Alep on marly limestone, locally towards mazeaugues with the favor of bauxite and likings, dolomitic limestones of the pine forests of maritime pines. With under wood of viornes chock and heathers, cane-apple bushes etc
The field of Cassien Saint between 630 and 870 m in the woodland forest of pines belonging to the Root family, conceals 32 old refrigerators of which some have summers restored. The old basins of congelation constitute wet, marshy mediums become natural even boggy containing rare species of a great value (Orchidée S).
Various vegetable associations
150 has 800 m in adret garrigues and pine of alep-200 has 650m in ubac pine of Alep
- 600 has 1070 m in adret green-400 oak grove has 600 m in ubac
- With the top of 800 m in adret-400/500 m has 700 /750 m in ubac: pubescent oak grove
- With the top of 800 m in adret between (400) 600/700 m and 1040 m in woodland ubac pine
- Between 750 and more than 1000 m in ubac hêtraie.
- Between 850 and nearly 1150 m on the peaks association of the broom of lobel, the blue seslery in ubac in the shade of the rock bars.
Flora and fauna
The most representative flowers are the Lis Martagon, Narcisse of the poets, Campanule S, Orchidées, Primevère, hepatic Anémone, seal of Solomon, Violette, Genêt S various, Rosier S savages, Marguerite, Digitale yellow, Fougère S etc; On the peaks meets rare the Saxifrage with sheets in strip and the Ibéris saxatile to be protected absolutely
Fauna is very rich in birds and mammals such as Sanglier S, rabbit S, Lièvre S, some Chevreuil S, Genette S, Renard S, Blaireau X, bald people mouse, Martre S… in the national forest hunting and prohibited, the torrents: Huveaune, Caramy, Vedes, Latay, Issoles, Cauron are rich in fish
The heat waves of 2003 and 2005 caused a certain mortality of the pines woodland especially in the plan of drier Aups and ubac of Roqueforcade, set fire to in 1971 formerly covered with forests. But fortunately rain and returned.
In 1999 and 2000 a snowstorm of a rare violence recovered of almost one meter of a very heavy snow the drill which was in a crisis on 50.000 ha of pine of Alep in central Provence. The other more adapted gasolines resisted. The risk the most important remainder forest fires which devastated the west of the solid mass into 1971,1980,1979, to the peak, and also 1989 between Nans and Saint Zacharie.
The solid mass and its forest are protected by the znieff from Natura 2000, but a project of Regional natural park would be the ideal for preserved this exceptional solid mass.
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