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Under Conservation, we consider conservation of biodiversity, flora and fauna. Conservation here includes also Preservation, such as of landscapes and traditional forms of rural village and countryside architecture, as well as Cultural Heritage, sense of identity and knowledge such as of traditional farming techniques -- what can be considered “intangible” heritage: as defined by Unesco, “… Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants.”

In my childhood, our family lived in the outskirts of Boston; there was a place nearby where we could walk to pond, field, and brook; this offered an opportunity, from young, to experience the variety and beauty of nature, and to value the sense of wonder in getting to know birds, snakes and other animals. This was a grounding from which grew the realization that biodiversity and landscape sites needed to be protected.

In France, the Luberon Mountain region, where I taught with the American Art Program, Lacoste School of the Arts, and spent time subsequently, is situated in the Regional Natural Luberon Park. The region also became a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, in 1998. The beauty of the landscape, the perched villages and old farmhouses, as well as the biodiversity of the area, make for many topics of attention for conservation.

Items of my involvement are listed in Teaching, Writing, Sharing, with further involvement described here.

<--- Christmas card, Eudoxia Woodward: Over years in the late 1950’s, animals we had in the house -- and yard -- included a Skye Terrier, cat, turtle, parakeet, crow, iguana, spectacled caiman, goat, snakes, as immortalized in a Christmas card drawn by my mother. See Book.


Some of the most special observations in the Luberon have been of the Fire Salamander, and of the Palmate Newt. Articles published:
“La salamandre tachetée” (“The Fire Salamander”), in Brèves Nouvelles of the Association Luberon Nature, Nov. 2018, nr 133. Brief description of the Fire Salamander, from my observations in the Luberon, with indications of some measures for people to take so as to avoid harming them and their habitats, including water areas crucial to reproduction. 

Salamander among leaves

Two salamander larvae in water

My observations of Palmate Newts in small stone “bassins” (pools) in the environs of the village of Lacoste in the Luberon led to interest on the part of specialists, including from the Parc du Luberon; for there had been very few recordings on Palmate Newts in the Luberon region, and those were of years prior. Thus came the incentive to do the article cited below. In some pools I saw also larvae of the Fire
Salamander. For the article I documented and dated my observations in the Lacoste area, over a span of years, with photos.

(“Status of the palmate newt and fire salamander (Amphibia, Urodela, Salamandridae) in the Luberon Regional Natural Park, Vaucluse)”, Alain Thiéry, Crystal Woodward, Grégory Deso, Bulletin de la Société d’Herpetologie of France, 2020.

Abstract: “Summary – Status of the palmate newt and common fire salamander (Amphibia, Urodela, Salamandridae) in the Luberon Regional Natural Park. Several biotopes populated with palmate newts (Lissotriton helveticus) and/or fire salamanders (Salamandra Salamandra) have been recorded in the area of Lacoste in the Petit Luberon (Vaucluse). The presence of the palmate newt is updated for the regional natural Park. Study of the geomorphological and ecological characteristics of habitats demonstrates the presence of interconnections between biotopes, which leads us to assume the existence of a metapopulation. Recommendations for conservation of these two populations are specified.”

Nuptial dance of the Palmate Newt

Palmate Newt, note webbed posterior feet characteristic of the male

I also wrote a second article about the Palmate Newt:

“Biodiversité et tritons palmés dans le Luberon” (“Biodiversity and Palmate Newts in the Luberon”), published in Brèves Nouvelles of the Association Luberon Nature, Dec. 2020 › breves- nouvelles

Observing these small creatures is a marvel, yet their survival depends on their having a favorable environment, including especially areas of water for their reproduction. Humid zones, and water “bassins” and their perimeters, theoretically should be protected, but unfortunately there is the dilemma of human expansion, with roads, building, agriculture, and other factors, encroaching upon and destroying such crucial biodiversity habitats.

An excerpt from the Luberon Nature article:

“Among the amphibians, there are “urodeles”. […] from the ancient Greek, “oura”, which means “tail”, and “delos”, “visible”, so they are animals that keep their tails after metamorphosis, when they come out of the water to assume their adult life. Newts and salamanders are “urodeles”. In contrast, in the amphibian family, frogs and toads are & "anurans" , which means that they are "tailless" after their metamorphosis from larvae to adults. And, another excerpt, in the Luberon Nature article I quoted Nicolas Hulot, French journalist and environmental activist, who in 1990 created the Nicolas Hulot Foundation for Nature and Mankind.


(Translated from the French:)
“In the preface to the book, Salamandres, Tritons &amp; Cie, éditions Quae, Serre Collet, F., 2019, Nicolas Hulot mentioned ‘the work necessary [...] to inventory biodiversity and to assess the tragic erosion it is undergoing. Few know it but, for example, urodeles represent the most endangered zoological group in the world: between 54.7 and 70% of urodeles are endangered globally. […] As cause, the disappearance and fragmentation of habitats, various pollution and introduced or invasive species, among other scourges [….] In addition, a disease caused by a fungus, Chytrid [batrachochytrium salamandrivorans] occurs in [France] after wiping out 99% of the Dutch salamander populations (it is currently found in Belgium.)’”

Observation of the Saga Pedo; another surprising encounter was with this large insect:

Crystal Woodward’s observation of the Saga Pedo is cited In the Table of observations, in “La Saga du Luberon” (The Luberon Saga), by Claude FAVET, in Courrier scientifique du Parc naturel régional du Luberon, n° 8-2004: Abstract, “The author presents the state of the art knowledge of the Saga Pedo grasshopper predator […} in the Luberon massif. The author also provides its geographical repartition and observations all over the Luberon area.”

The Saga Pedo bush cricket is very large, “with the body size of up to 12 centimetres (4.7 in), which makes it one of the largest European insects and one of the world's largest Orthoptera  (grasshoppers, crickets and alike).

Landscape and Cultural Heritage:

Much as the Luberon is within a Regional Natural Park and a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, as well as having certain sectors honored with other Labels (e.g Natura 2000), the region is confronted with problems of expanding urbanization, pollution, destruction of biodiversity habitats, incursion on the landscape, agricultural land and on the heritage of the perched villages and traditional rural architecture.

I have been involved over 20 years with the Association Luberon Nature. Founded some 50 years ago, the Association is officially approved by the French Ministry of the Environment.

In brief, as quoted from their site, “Luberon Nature has the goal of protecting nature, safeguarding natural sites, monuments and characteristic dwelling places […] and in general the protection of the natural, historical and architectural heritage in the territory of the Luberon Regional Natural Park. It also hopes to protect flora and fauna [….]” The Association over years has been involved in a range of topics. I have been especially interested in biodiversity and landscape conservation, and recognition of the heritage value of the perched villages, panoramic views, and other sites of heritage value. I contribute photographs for these goals, for example, covers on their News Bulletin:

Cover photo: Poppies, vineyards, and Bonnieux village in the background, May 2007 “The heritage value of the landscape and perched villages of the Luberon lies in the harmony between, on the one hand, the land, nature and biodiversity, and, on the other hand, the work of the farmers who have shaped this landscape since generations and who want to continue. In Luberon Nature we recognize the importance of this tradition of a living landscape, and we seek to perpetuate it.”

Luberon Regional Natural Park:

Over the years I have participated in numerous meetings and events of the Parc du Luberon, to do with questions of the landscape and perched village heritage, and, as to biodiversity, “zones humides” (humid zones), and “Trames vertes et bleues” (habitat networks or corridors) wherein “the ‘green’ part corresponds to natural and semi-natural terrestrial environments and the ‘blue’ component refers to
the aquatic and wet network (rivers, rivers, wetlands, estuaries, etc.)” A problem in the Luberon, as so elsewhere, is “ habitat fragmentation , wherein  urbanization  can split up habitat areas, causing animals to lose both their natural habitat and the ability to move between regions to use all of the resources they need to survive. Habitat fragmentation due to  human development  [and activities such as building, roads, agricultural expansion, etc.] is an ever-increasing threat to  biodiversity [….]” (Ibid)

In 2010 the Parc du Luberon did an exhibit of my photos of the landscape area between the two perched villages of Lacoste and Bonnieux, photos going back over some thirty years; the exhibit was to accompany the five meetings of the four-month “Cycle de Conférences” (series of conferences) on the theme, “Quels Paysages pour Demain?” (What Landscapes for Tomorrow?) This was in conjunction with 2010 being the International Year of Biodiversity. I was a Speaker in the opening meeting of the Conference Cycle, “Agriculture et production de richesse paysagère” (“Agriculture and production of landscape richness”), 26 September 2010, Parc du Luberon “Journée du Parc” (Day of the Park), Cucuron, France, 2010

On the first panel of the Parc exhibit, the text reads (translated from French): “Enthusiast for terraced landscapes, Crystal has us discover those of Bonnieux and Lacoste. This photographic report, renewed over years and seasons on an agricultural territory, makes us become conscious of the structure of these spaces, of their evolving, of the work done to maintain these ‘little worlds’ and also the form of art that they represent perhaps a bit… Here, in a few words and
images, the life of these landscapes….”

On the first panel of the Parc exhibit, the text reads (translated from French): “Enthusiast for terraced landscapes, Crystal has us discover those of Bonnieux and Lacoste. This photographic report, renewed over years and seasons on an agricultural territory, makes us become conscious of the structure of these spaces, of their evolving, of the work done to maintain these ‘little worlds’ and also the form of art that they represent perhaps a bit… Here, in a few words and images, the life of these landscapes….”

Additional items: 

Additional items to do with Conservation and Landscape and Cultural Heritage are listed in Teaching, Writing, Sharing; see especially for example the talk and article with Archipal, and the talk given, 2012 “The Luberon Landscape, Art, Agriculture, and Human Values”, at the Maison du Département, in Apt, France.

Photos and Perched Villages drawing in Pays d’Apt article, 2014, “Le Pays d’Apt devrait protéger et valoriser son ‘Paysage Culturel’; Quand le Paysage Raconte l’Histoire.” (“The Region of Apt should protect and value its ‘Cultural Landscape’; When the landscape tells history.” Entretien with Christian Markiewicz par Genevieve Dupoux-Verneuil, (Conversation with Christian Markiewicz reported by Genevieve Dupoux-Verneuil), in Pays d’Apt, No. 221, 2014)

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