In 2022-2023, the Foundation launched its first international call for projects to support projects in biodiversity hotspots for 3 years, those threatened ecosystems identified as critical areas for global biodiversity.
According to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), there are 36 global biodiversity hotspots. To be identified as such, the ecosystem must contain at least 1,500 species of plants that are endemic to the geographical region concerned and cannot be found anywhere else on Earth (which makes them both special and vulnerable to extinction), and must have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation. Overexploitation, pollution and the introduction of non-native species have greatly weakened these threatened ecosystems.
Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park, located in the mediterranean basin, is one of these critical areas of global biodiversity. Straddling part of the Tarn department and part of the Hérault, in the Occitanie region, the territory of the Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park and its surroundings are home to an exceptional biological diversity with 170 animal species, nearly 250 species of birds, 120 of which regularly nest, 26 species of bats out of the 33 present in France, and 2,500 species of flowering plants.
In addition, certain species such as amphibians are historically strongly represented in the Tarn. The department is home to about 1/3 of the species present in France with 12 species. It is the European department with the highest biodiversity of amphibians, including the marbled newt, the natterjack and calamitous toad and the agile, green and red frogs. All the species of amphibians in the department are in decline or threatened with extinction. Sufficient and dense vegetation cover allowing the connection between natural pools and forests is essential to maintain populations.
The appearance in the 1950s of industrial arboriculture, which tends to homogenise practices and cultivated varieties, has threatened the fruit heritage of the Tarn, which used to be known for its old apple varieties. As a result of climate change and industrial agriculture, certain varieties such as these local apple varieties, but also certain species of batrachians are threatened with extinction.