Introduction

The "Michel Brosselin" National Nature Reserve of Saint-Denis-du-Payré



"Baisses" and "belles" of the reserve © RNN St Denis du Payré
Wet meadows in spring.

Situated in the Vendée part of Marais Poitevin, the manmade dry marsh landscapes provide an infinite panoramic view over the natural wet meadows.


An area overflowing with history

The clay soil, remains of the former mudflats of the Gulf of Pictons, is impermeable and therefore retains rainwater in the "baisses" (wet hollows). This, along with the "belles" (higher, dryer areas), forms a micro-relief which is extremely beneficial to biodiversity. In order to protect this unusual heritage, Michel Brosselin obtained classification in 1976 for the 207 hectares in the "communal" of Saint-Denis-du-Payré to become a National Nature Reserve.

Close-up on: a "communal"?

 

Mixed grazing (cattles and horses) encourages plant diversity © RNN St Denis du PayréThe "communaux" of the Marais Poitevin are vast wet meadows, formerly made available to the inhabitants for grazing by the local monks and lords. During the Revolution, they became the villages' property. Since then, many village marshes have sadly disappeared and were used for farming after the 1960s. Those that still exist (a little over fifteen) represent territories of high biological value, as they haven't been touched by humans and have always been used for extensive grazing.

An exceptional abundance

Whilst 272 species of bird have been spotted since the reserve was created, the site is not an ornithological park. Like all nature reserves, the habitat is protected first and foremost - with all its flora and fauna. Since 1976, nature inventories and monitoring procedures have counted:

  • 339 species of plants,
  • more than 1050 species of insects,
  • 102 species of spiders,
  • 33 species of mammals,
  • 17 species of fishes,
  • 11 species of amphibians,
  • 8 species of reptiles...
Otter © Benoit Perrotin

Various families of insects and other invertebrates have not yet been subject to these studies or inventories, and so this list is of course far from being exhaustive and will be extended in the years to come.

NB: in order to protect this abundance of species as best as possible, as well as the peace and quiet required for the fauna, access to the site is regulated and only possible during public opening hours.

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