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The programme > Objectives > Biodiversity


From the upper basins to the estuary, the diversity of landscapes crossed by the Loire and its tributaries also reflects the diversity of its natural environments and wild species, all linked to the river and its functions. Upstream, its sources in the Massif Central are the sites of peatlands and small streams : this is the kingdom of the Otter, carnivorous plants (Rossolis) and the Dipper. In the gorge sectors, forests and land on the banks host a great wealth of resources for birds, particularly birds of prey. Further downstream, meanders and midstream islands house France’s largest population of Little stern and Common stern, which nest on the sand and gravel banks. Riparian forests, like miniature jungles, provide food for the European beaver. Finally, on approaching the estuary, vast agricultural fields include a wide diversity of flowers and butterflies, as well as a severely endangered bird, the Corncrake..

The wealth of the Loire and its tributaries is also aquatic, with migratory fish, including the Atlantic salmon, as well as some very rare shells such as the Pearl mussel. It is because the Loire catchment basin houses this extraordinary diversity that it is of major importance in European nature conservation.

Beyond this diversity, the course of the river illustrates an extraordinary link between upstream and downstream stretches, with the circulation of wild species and exchanges between widely diverse environments.

-  On the Loire : 2000 to 2500 species of aquatic invertebrates (80% insects), 42 species of fish, including 8 migratory, 18 species of amphibians, 11 species of reptiles, at least 240 species of birds and 44 species of mammals,...

-  Nearly 1400 plants in the mid-Loire, including nearly 300 exotics.

-  1238 salmon counted at Vichy in 2003, but 90% of the original salmon mating grounds are no longer accessible.

-  13 beavers were reintroduced in the Loire (Loir-et-Cher) between 1974 and 1976, and are now found over 1700 km of the water course.

-  20 Prefectoral Edicts concerning Biotope protection in the Loire and its tributaries and 3 Nature Reserves.

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