An exceptional area


An exceptional natural heritage

The Brenne Regional Nature Park has an exceptional natural heritage.
The various listings and the number of classifications or inventories regarding its ecosystem or species (animal and vegetal), are witnesses of an exceptional ecological wealth. Incontestable facts which are recognized on a national, European and international level.

HVI heron cendre tnHVI etang brenne tn








ramsar mini2According to the RAMSAR convention (since 1991 nearly the entire surface of the Brenne is classed as a wetland area of international importance. After the lakes of the "Champagne humide" the Brenne is the second biggest wetland zone in France.


natura 2000 mini2However, the area is recognized on an European level because the Brenne contains four designated "NATURA 2000" sites:


  • 3 zones of Special Conservation (ZSC) under the title "Habitats": the valleys of the Creuse and the Anglin and the "Grande Brenne".
  • 1 zone of Special Protection (ZPS) under the title "Birds": the Brenne which superimposes the "ZSG of the Grande Brenne"

The following map summarizes the zoning of this territory:

natura 2000 et ramsar en brenne tn

The Brenne: a wetland area of international importance

le citron tnIn the Brenne offers several types of wetland areas:







  • dico hottonia palustris marek tnRunning waters (springs, streams, rivers.....) can favour the creation of wet habitats like peatlands or wetland meadows.







  • Stagnant waters (ponds, drain ditches....) The creations of the ponds are at the origin of the developpment of special natural habitats in its immediate surroundings like marshes, moors or wetland meadows, so characteristic for the Brenne.

 Etang Rosnay PNR Brenne tn

The park is home to about 4000 lakes and ponds, which means about 9000 ha of water. Their creation is entirely due to human activity, reminding of the close connections between human societies and mankind. The early ones have been created for the fish production from the middle Ages onwards; ponds have been dug for agricultural purposes, like to provide drinking facilities for cattle. The ponds can also be the result of the exploitation of old Marl pits.

Marniere PNR Brenne tn

Where the ponds are forming a network, like it is the case in the Brenne, they are home to a metapopulation of many aquatic plant species, of invertebrates and amphibians, playing a crucial role in the conservation of the biodiversity of the landscape.





The Park is home to more than 2300 identified animal species.
Open your eyes and you might discover a "Cistude d'Europe (European pond turtle) taking a sun bath during the warm season or admire the Whiskered terns in flight.


HVI biche vue du ciel tnOne of the characteristics of the park is the presence of a large population of big mammals (Stag, deer, and wild boar which is on the increase). As of today, 27 protected species of the 68 accounted for in France have been identified in the Park.
Special surveys have identified 22 bat species; as to micro-mammals, like the Amphibian vole, they are not yet widely known.


loutre2 tnSpecies like the "Common genet" and the dormouse, the "Campagnol de Gerbe"(a vole species), can be observed while otters and beavers have been again observed in the Park.





HVI Grande aigrette tnBirds are undoubtedly the most known group in the Brenne and the group the most identified thanks to important counts ( BIROE, WETLAND...). Numerous observations since the 1980s confirmed the importance of the wetland "Brenne" as a habitat of rare bird species.




Water fowls

HVI Crabier chevelu tnRecognized on an international level due to the quantity and the diversity of species presented, the Brenne is on the 4th rank of the "French wetlands of International importance", according to the classification of the "UICN". The Brenne is visited or is home to ¾ of the 365 protected French bird species.

The biggest interest lays in the breeding species, like the Black-necked Grebe, the rare Eurasian bittern, the Night Heron, the Western Marsh Harrier, the Purple Heron, the Whiskered Tern, the Black Tern, etc.
During the winter months, the lakes are regularly home to 12 000 ducks and teals, 900 grebes, 3000 coots, 900 Great cormorants, 300 Great egrets, 35 000 lapwings and plovers, which are joint by some " Garot à l'oeil d'or", "Harles piette et bièvre", shell ducks and lately by the White Tailed Eagle.

HVI grues tnDuring the migration period many waders can be observed (Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit...) and thousands of the Common Cranes are flying over the Brenne when the weather is getting colder. Since a few years many are staying here over the winter.



Land birds

HVI pie grieche ecorcheur tnUp to 116 bird species nesting in the Brenne can be observed: Nightjar, Honey Buzzard, Booted Eagle in forest areas; Curlew, Stone Curlew, Montagu's Harrier, or the Woodlark around farmlands; the Dartford Warbler and the Hen Harrier around moor lands.




2008 06 19 cistude tnThe park is home to 11 of the 37 of France's native protected reptile species.
In the absence of a systematical reptile inventory of the territory, the European Pond Turtle (The Cistude d'Europe) alone represents nearly 2/3 of the observations until today. This emblematic animal has found here a real place of "appreciation". The actual population of the Brenne is ca. 70 000 individuals, proof that this area is one of the most important regions in France for its protection.
Amongst the other 10 species presented, the Asp Viper, the Grass snake, the Yellow and Green Viperine water snake and the Green Lizard are widely presented.



Crapaud calamite tnNearly half of France's 35 Amphibian species are present in the communes of the Park, amongst them the very rare Common spadefoot, marbled Newt and Great Crested Newt. Large populations of Green frogs can be found. Green Tree frogs, Natter jack toads and Common Parsley frogs animating the lakes during the reproduction period. Some amphibians, like the Yellow-bellied toad, are now threatened with extinction due to the destruction of their habitats.



carpe tnAcross the various water ways and the lakes 32 fish species are listed. Amongst them are of course locally reared species: Carp, Roach, Pike.... but also introduced species like Black bass and Zander.
The Lamprey and the Brook Lamprey, the Chabot fish (Cottus gobio) can be found in the water ways of the territory. In 2001 the suppression of the dam of the "Maisons rouges" on the Creuse river has favored the return of the Great Shad and in 2010 Salmon and Trout have been observed.



lucane tnAround 3000 species, divided in around 30 sub-species, are actually listed. They are mainly Butterflies (Lepidoptera) and beetles. An estimation indicates the presence of around 12 000- 15 000 insects presented in the Brenne ! Of particular importance are the presence of 62 dragon fly and damsel fly species of the 91 accounted for in France. One can also observe big populations of Cetonids and Stag beetles (Lucanus Cervus) who find a home in old oak trees. Rare butterflies like the" Phengaris Alcon", the "Large Copper", the "Marsh fritillary" and more recently the "Eriogaster Catax" can be observed.



mulette epaisse tnMollusks are divided in bi-valves (mussels, oysters....) and gastropods (snails, slugs...). From the 60 protected mollusks species of France, only one can be found in the Park: the Thick Shelled River Mussel". This low number of protected species listed is most likely due to an absence of inventories. With exception of the River Mussel, this group has been subject of only a few local studies.... But all the fishermen in the Brenne are familiar with the clams during the winter fishing sessions.



In mainland France the number of native plants ("Higher plants") is estimated at about 4900. The Brenne Regional Nature Park is home to 1599 of it (amongst them are 300 "Lower plants"). They are consisting of: 26 of France's protected species, 97 of protected species of Central France and of 227 protected species of local interest.
In 2004 the number of remarkable plant sites identified in the Park amounted to 5523. Important to point out is the presence of 46 orchid species.


The Lakes

The presence of this remarkable flora is strongly linked to the various wetland areas of the Brenne. Nearly a quarter of the remarkable flora listed is due to the existence of the lakes and ponds.
Caldesie tnA characteristic of the lakes' vegetation are successive belts of floating aquatic plants which are starting from the center of the lake to spread towards the periphery. Amongst them are Water lilies, pond weed, knot weed or submerged sea grass (reed beds consisting of different species).
Many remarkable species developed in "open waters" like the "Nymphoides peltata/ False Water Lily" and in shallower waters the "Caldesia parassanofolia", the Floating water-plantain...
The yearly "Marnage" (an ancient agricultural practice to add lime to the soil) is important for the flora of the lakes. Annuals (Cyperus michelianus, Baldellia ranunculoides subsp.repens, Eleocharis uniglumis) and perennials (Litorella uniflora, Isoetes velata subsp. tenuissima...) are sharing the grounds subject to the water movements. The yearly "assecs" (lakes left empty from spring until autumn) allowing the development of the Bidens radiate, polygonum bistorta, sorrel, Chenopodiums...) On the dried up sands of the beaches, the Trifolium agri, lotus corniculatus.... are forming coloured belts.


The Heathland

The heathlands covered with calluna vulgaris, Europeen gorse and broom (Genisteae) are stretching over poor soil, sometimes together with blackthorn and spikey hawthorn.
JMD Drosera fr tnOne can distinguish especially:


  • The Moorland: rare and spread about, characterised by the Cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) and the Gentiana pneumonanth, can be also home to micro bogs with Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) or the Grassette Portugal (Pinguicula lusitanica).
  • The Heathland: a typical landscape, home amongst other species, to the tree heath (Erica arborea) and the European Gorse.


  • The dry Heathland, home to the Bell heather (Erica cinerea) and sometimes to the Illyrian Gladiolus, the Rock rose (Halimium umbellatum), the Arenaria montana or the Linaria prlisseriana.

Lande seche tnsabline2 tn







Grasslands on Limestone

Pelouse calcicole tnSituated on the slopes of the valleys, they give shelter to numerous adapted species like the Astragalus glycyphyllos. More than 20 heat demanding orchids, growing on chalky soil, are finding plenty of suitable spots; some of them are locally protected species. Many plant species can be found at the northern boundaries of the territory (Knotted clover/Trifolium striatum, Montpellier Maple/Acer monspessulanum, Snowy Mespilus/ Amelanchier ovalis, the Small Bellflower/Campanula erinus....). Finally, at least 350 plant species linked to grassland areas and chalky zones are accounted for!
To be able to expand in such a difficult environment adaptation skills are needed: therefore subshrubs (Halimium and Tencrium montanum), succulents like some stonecrops, etc. can be found... Those specialized plants are able to live side by side only in such an exceptional environment.

Marshland on Limestone

There are only a few remaining marshlands in the Brenne which cover a substantial area. Amongst them are the very remarkable Saw-sedge (Cladium mariscus) limestone marshlands in the northern part of the Park. Between the Sedges an unusual Flora can be observed: the Marsh-grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris), Marsh Helleborine (Epipactis palustris), Marsh land orchids and the famous Orchid of the Brenne (Dactylohiza brennensis).

Marais ozance Saulnay tnorchis de brenne tn







Prairie a jonc tn

According to the soil characteristics three very different types of meadows are existant in the Brenne:

  • The cane grass wetland meadow is normally mixed with Marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle vulgaris), Carum verticillatum, Scorzonera, thistles (Cirsium), etc.,which houses often little peaty areas.
  • The mesophilic meadows (where the humidity-drought level of the soil is average), is dominated by Buffalo grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) and the Yorkshire fog (Holcus lanatus). This kind of meadow has often replaced areas used before for agricultural exploitation.

    plathantere bifolia2 tn

  • The meadows with a poor soil, home to the Tongue orchid (Serapias lingua), are mixing sometimes with siliceous dry grasslands, which contain annual plants, or with dry meadows with Sheep's fescue (Festuca ovina). Those ones are more or less rich in small clovers with a Mediterranean aspect.

Serapias langue tn

Vegetation on Sandstone

The peaks of the "Buttons" (sandstone hillocks) or other sandstone outcrops are housing pioneering plants like Lichen, small mossy plants like Scleranthus and occasionally the European Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris).

scleranthe perenne tn


Lys martagon tnForests

The English Oak (Quercus robur) is a dominating species in the Brenne. Sometimes it can be found in co-habitation with the Irish Oak (Quercus petraea) and most of the time with the Common Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus). In certain areas, pine plantations (common pines, Scotch pines and Corsican pines) have replaced the broadleaf trees. In some places Pyrenean Oaks (Quercus pyrenaica) are present.
The shady forests of the valleys of the Creuse and the Anglin rivers are allowing the proliferation of ferns: Hart's tongue ferns (Asplenium scolopendrium) and Western Oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris). They grow on their embankments and on its hill side's mountain plants can be found sometimes. These are, amongst several others: the Martagon lily (Lilium martagon), Nectaroscilla hyacinthoides, Sedges (Carex digitée), European Bistort (Bistorta officinalis) ...



Today invasive species are representing the second most important reason for the disappearance of the planet's biodiversity. Therefore it is of great importance to know them in order to fight their propagation.

According to the "UICN"(Union Mondiale pour la Nature) , an invasive species is an "Exotic species of which the introduction, the installation and the propagation are threating the ecosystems, the habitats or the native species due to negative environmental and/or economical consequences and/or negative sanitary reasons".
Most of the time it is human actions which are at the origin of its introductions, either voluntary (commercial reasons, biological control....) or accidentally (via the hulls of the boats...)
Around 1 species out of 100 introduced ones becomes invasive. That means this species is proliferating in its new environment to the point of threatening others, natural habitats or local ecosystems. Most of the time those invasive species have a high reproduction rate, no competitors, no diseases and not enough predators in their new environment.
In Europe the introduction of new species exists since several centuries, but with the increase of global trade we are noticing acceleration! With the consequence that invasive species have gradually colonised the continent and France has not been spared. Aquatic environments and wetland areas are particularly touched by the arrival of those species.

Two common invasive species:

ragondin tnOriginally from Southern America, the "Nutria" has been raised for its fur from 1882. When this activity stopped, the animals had been scattered into nature and multiplied greatly. Today they are causing great damage, especially to the embankments and the causeways of the ponds where they dig their burrows.



renouee tnThe Japanese knotweed has been introduced in France voluntarily in 1939 as an ornamental plant. It can practically eradicate all other species due to a high growth rate and abundant foliage, depriving other herbaceous species and young trees seedlings of light.




Some other species present in the Brenne and their arrival date in France:


  • 1786: Alianthus altissima, China
  • 1863: Ambrosia artemisiifolia, Northern America
  • 1871: Catfish ( Ictalarus sp.), Northern America
  • 1877: Sun perch or Rainbow perch (Lepomis gibbosus), Southern America
  • 1880 : Myriophyllum aquaticum, Southern America
  • 1896: Buddlea or Butterfly trea (Buddleja davidii), China
  • 1911-1913: Red Swamp crayfish (Orconectes limosus), Cost of the United States
  • 1925: Musk rat (Ondatra zibethicus), Canada
  • 1970: Florida turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans), United States of America

Rapid growth, strong adaptability, high reproductive capacity, extrema resistance, etc.: amongst the invasive species present in the Brenne actually, 2 are clearly the most threatening:

The Red swamp crayfish
The Water-Primrose (Ludwigia)
jussie1 tn

Other invasive exotic species are about to cross "the borders of the Park". Notably the bullfrog, which shows an extraordinary voracity (e.g. an adult bullfrog is able to swallow a young moorhen!) and the Asian hornet which is a great threat to our bees....

Guide of the exotic invasive species of the park

Bienvenue dans le Parc naturel régional de la Brenne