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Lunard, Pont de Rhaud

in Cornillon-Confoux
  • Situates to the East of La Crau, the Massif du Pont de Rhaud is slotted between the Massif de Sulauze and Chaîne de Lançon, and slopes down to the northern edge of Etang de Berre lake.


    The Massif du Pont de Rhaud comprises a low-lying plateau (58 - 114 m), rising gently southwards before descending again sharply. This plateau is crowned with small hillocks (maximum altitude 126 m) and its southern face is carved with fairly deep valleys and steep slopes (Vallée de la Touloubre).

    The...
    Situates to the East of La Crau, the Massif du Pont de Rhaud is slotted between the Massif de Sulauze and Chaîne de Lançon, and slopes down to the northern edge of Etang de Berre lake.


    The Massif du Pont de Rhaud comprises a low-lying plateau (58 - 114 m), rising gently southwards before descending again sharply. This plateau is crowned with small hillocks (maximum altitude 126 m) and its southern face is carved with fairly deep valleys and steep slopes (Vallée de la Touloubre).

    The massif is located at the limit of the Bas Rhône and coastal Provence climate zones. Average temperatures there are warm (13 to 14 °C) and variations are tempered by maritime influences. Rainfall is low: around 600 mm per year. This massif is positioned along the Rhône valley and as such is exposed to strong and regular Mistral winds (over 100 days per year at over 60 km/hr) which blow upwards over the relief and valleys, hence creating various acceleration phenomena and turbulence at the edge of the plateau.

    The Massif de Pont de Rhaud is fairly sparsely forested (33 %). Its tree populations, primarily comprising conifers (70 % Aleppo pines mixed with evergreen oaks), are less than 60 years old and are mainly planted on former agricultural land. As these trees are untended, their biomass is significant, in particular as the massif has been relatively spared from fires in the last 30 years.

    The Massif du Pont de Rhaud is also characterised by its patchwork aspect, with wooded areas interspersed with agricultural zones still in use. Its fringe is in direct contact with major urban zones (mainly Miramas and Saint-Chamas).

    Human activity predominates in the massif, with:
    - dispersed inhabited zones related to agricultural activities
    - a fairly high frequentation linked to the proximity of Miramas, Grans and Saint-Chamas, and the massif's sporting opportunities (MBK, walking, horse riding, etc.).

    Moreover, although this massif does not benefit from any particular protective measures, it represents a valuable natural heritage, in particular due to its mosaic of agricultural and forest zones and proximity to the banks of Etang de Berre lake (Natural Zone of Ecological, Faunistic and Floristic Interest (ZNIEFF)).
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