The Gigondas appellation area is a rich mosaic of forested, rocky, agricultural and aquatic environments that feature a diversity of natural and semi-natural habitats.
Habitats within the viticulture sector
The vineyards are made up of semi-natural habitats, or Agro-Ecological Infrastructures (AEI), to give them their official name. These are considered semi-natural because they have been partly created by man. There are many types of AEI: linear (e.g. hedgerows, grass strips, stone walls etc), isolated (individual trees, ponds) or areal (thickets, uncultivated land etc). These habitats are most varied around the edges of vineyards: hedges, trees rows, individual trees, small walls etc. Within the vineyards themselves it is mainly grass strips and some individual trees which are found.
Biodiversity within the vineyard
The biodiversity typically found within vineyards is classified as “ordinary,” comprising common species which are not considered to be an issue in terms of needing protection or rarity, but whose presence provides key information about the ecological functioning of the environment in question. Around 115 vegetal species and 80 animal species have been logged, mainly on the outskirts of agro-ecological infrastructures. Some of these species are closely linked to the kind of habitat found in the vineyard; they are referred to as subordinate species.
Today the Gigondas area features over 200 animal species (according to the Silène database, 2017) of which more than half are subject to protection measures to a greater or lesser extent (regional and national lists, Natura 2000 network).
Fauna within the viticultural environment
Essentially mammals, birds, reptiles and insects are found on the outskirts and in vineyards. Most are very common to Gigondas and are notably associated with the agricultural environment the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), the common hare (Lepus europaeus), the European turtle dove (Streptopelia turtur), the red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa), the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis), the knapweed fritillary (Melitaea phoebe etc.).
However, certain species – classified as “remarkable” – can also be found here, for example birds such as the black-eared wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), the Eurasian stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) or the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), a typical species of bird of prey that has been s in danger of extinction in the PACA region since 2013, according to the UICN.
This species nests almost every year in the Dentelles de Montmirail and hunts in the vineyards. The vineyards and agro-ecological infrastructures play the role of biodiversity reservoirs and ecological corridors where species can come to feed, reproduce or otherwise pass through.
The flora of Gigondas has been inventoried many times. There are no less than 537 vegetal species within the area (according to the Silène and Faune Paca databases).
Flora within the viticultural environment
Flora is specifically found on the outskirts of the vineyards. The most abundant species are from the Fabaceae family such as red clover (Trifolium pratense), white clover (Trifolium repens), Luzerne (Medicago italica) and flat pea (Lathyrus sylvestris). Some protected species of orchids can also be found near vineyards, in particular the lizard orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum) and the woodcock orchid (Ophrys pseudscolopax).
This vineyard flora is characteristic of the agricultural environment, and is also very common within the Gigondas vineyard area. Some vegetal species have an indicator role, providing information about the state of the soil and associated farming practices. For example, the presence of large quantities of red clover (Trifolium pratense) suggests that the soil is probably suffering from asphyxiation further to an excess of water or organic matter (Gérard Ducerf, 2006).
The results of this study have shown that the Gigondas area has great ecological potential closely linked to viticulture and the appellation’s vineyards; it is essential that this potential is preserved for future generations.
This assessment was carried out between March and July 2017 by Laura Moutfi, an MBA student in Ingénierie Ecologique et Gestion de la Biodiversité (Ecological Engineering and Biodiversity Management), as part of her internship programme.
The complete version of this assessment can be downloaded via the following link :
Biodiversity complete version