Shepherds, Hydroelectric Stations, and Ski Resorts: The Pallars Sobirà Landscape
The system of French regional natural parks (RNPs), initiated in 1967, and includes a great diversity of environments from mountainous littoral, deeply rural, to periurban. The system was created with three distinct and sometimes conflicting missions that constituted an approach similar to 'sustainable development' even before that concept had been invented: the preservation of natural, historical and cultural heritages; economic development at the local scale; and promotion of tourist and leisure facilities. The research for this chapter is based on an analysis of the landscape's evolution, considered as a synthetic and perceptible expression of the territories as socioeconomic and environmental systems and as a prime indicator for their mutations. The park of Haut Languedoc does not possess any high mountains, but its evolution shows numerous common features with the arigeoises valleys of Couserans and of Vicdessos for its oceanic part, and with Haut Confluent for its Mediterranean part.