© UNESCO/ Christophe Gerrer
Mont-Viso (France)

The Mont-Viso Biosphere Reserve is a glacial cirque situated between the Alpine mountains and the Mediterranean. It is surrounded by river valleys and high altitude lakes and enjoys a dry and sunny climate.

Declaration date: 2013
Administrative authorities: Parc naturel régional du Queyras
Surface area: 133 164 ha
Core area: 4 558 ha
Buffer zone: 54 425 ha
Transition area: 74 181 ha

Latitude: 44°28'11"N- 44°58'47"N
Longitude: 6°46'48"E - 7°4’12"E
Central point: 44°43'11"N-6°46'48"E

Ecological characteristics

© UNESCO/ Christophe Amblard
Mont-Viso (France)

The French part of the territory around Monte Viso is characterized by high mountains ranging from between 900 to 3 000 metres. The terrain around the massif, Monte Viso, is shaped by a system of valleys, including the Durance, Cerveyrette, Chagne, Clarée, Guil and Ubaye.

This area is home to a rich and varied flora and fauna with strong endemism. Some 333 species of plant have been identified of which 129 are particular to the reserve, while 33 are protected at the European level. Of the 62 identified animal species, 13 are endemic (e.g. the Salamander of Lanza) and 20 are protected.

The territory consists of a dozen important habitats, mostly forests, open and semi-open habitats, rock formations and water environments. Thus, there are also pine forests, swamps, limestone boulders and steppe formations. Fifteen other habitats are remarkable in nature and five are considered rare, hosting rock glaciers, alder thickets, areas rich in bog bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) and dwarf azalea (Loiseleuria procumbens).

Socio-economic characteristics

© UNESCO/ Lydia Bletterie
Mount Dauphin - Mont-Viso (France)

In 2009, the Mont-Viso biosphere reserve hosted nearly 24 975 inhabitants over 1 331 km². With twenty inhabitants/km², the area has a relatively low population density. Human activities specific to the culture of the territory include high-mountain agriculture, forestry and handicrafts.

The biosphere reserve receives many visitors throughout the year and tourism plays a major role in its economy. Some species of flora are also of real importance to the local economy, including medicinal and aromatic plants (e.g. arnica gentian, balm, wormwood, hyssop, buckthorn, edelweiss, blue thistle).

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                                                                                    Last update: January 2014

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