Agro-pastoralism has always existed in Southern Aveyron and continues to play an important role in the economy of the Aveyron département. Many farmers supply the milk for making Roquefort, a cheese that ripens in the faults of the Combalou mountain in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon
We talk about pastoralism to describe a farming system that uses a territory’s vegetal resources for feeding its herds and which, at the same time, looks after natural spaces.
This farming technique, which has inherited age-old traditions for enhancing land and pastures, respects geological, climatic and seasonal constraints, which oblige the shepherds to transhume depending on the location and availability of resources.
Agro-pastoralism is a variant of pastoralism, which combines sheep-breeding along routes that are rich in grass or shrub along with on-site production of hay and cereals for supplementing the sheep food.
A cultural landscape that has gained worlwide recognition from UNESCO
By inscribing the « Causses and Cévennes » on the 2011 World Heritage List, UNESCO consecrated not only the majestic landscapes of Mediterranean agro-pastoralism, but also the work and culture of the men who shaped them.
Inscribed as a living and evolving cultural landscape of Mediterranean agro-pastoralism, the territory extends over 3000 km² in the Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions.
Twenty-two communes of the Grands Causses Natural Park lie within the area.
Amid a spectacular natural setting of mountains, valleys, causses and gorges, the Causses and Cévennes bear exceptional witness to the intimate relationship - ancient but still alive - between man and his environment: agro-pastoral culture.
The exceptional universal value of the Causses and Cévennes can be seen in the way this landscape has been shaped by agro-pastoral activity. This activity presents practically every single type of pastoral activity that is to be found all around the Mediterranean. Agro-pastoralism today is a combination of vast open spaces, remarkable biodiversity and an ingenious architectural heritage.
Human genius, the humble and discreet kind involved in agro-pastoral farming, can be found throughout the territory: clapas (a pile of stones made from stones that have been removed from the fields), drailles (transhumance paths) sheepfolds, caves for ripening cheese, hydraulic systems, etc. These all bear precious witness to the construction of this countryside over the millennia.