“We had to cut down half of the 2,000 hectares of national forest”

It is on both sides of the RD 218, on the ocean beaches road, that the fire of July 2022 left the marks most visible to the public. The La Teste-de-Buch User Forest also burned, but getting there is more complicated. After the Pilat dune, between the north of the Petit Nice car park and the gigantic firebreak cut just north of Biscarrosse, at the limit, grows the national forest of the dune cord of La Teste-de-Buch, managed by the National Forestry Office (ONF), also affected by the terrible fire of July 2022.

Since then, we no longer recognize anything. The fire destroyed half of these 2,030 hectares. 80,000 m³ of wood then had to be cut down. This Tuesday afternoon, Caroline Fourcade, head of the ONF unit in Biscarrosse, is in this forest, east of the road, near Salie Nord. She still marks trees to be cut, pines affected by the bark beetle, this insect which kills fragile trees. “We make lace now,” she said. In June, the machine will come and remove the last trees. »


Caroline Fourcade, head of the Biscarrosse territorial unit, for the National Forestry Office (ONF).

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The NFB worked quickly after the fire. It was necessary to quickly reopen the RD 218 and the car parks of the Petit Nice, La Lagune and Salie Nord beaches. The ONF already had contracts for the wood, so everything was removed quite quickly. That didn’t stop the bark beetle from coming, but to a lesser extent than in the User Forest, where everything is necessarily more complicated, with its extent, its configuration, its private and user nature.

“For the bark beetle, we carried out a first tour after the fire, until December 2022, where we had to cut down 8,000 m³ of pine trees,” says Caroline Fourcade. And then we did a second round. So I’m there right now where I’m still marking a few trees. The forecast number of attacked trees to be felled is around 2000 m³. In total, we had to cut down half of the La Teste-de-Buch national forest. »


Bark beetle traps, to assess their numbers, were installed in the La Teste-de-Buch national forest and monitored by ONF agents.

Fabien Cottereau/SO

Natural regeneration

As in the User Forest, priority is given to natural regeneration: “We have 3,000 survey points to observe pine and oak growth. It will be necessary to reforest around 25%, because there are places where there had been clearcutting and where everything burned, including the seedlings, the seeds. »

But the ONF gives nature time to revive: “In our context of global warming, the seeds of local species, which are a genetic heritage, are the most adapted. The goal is to have as strong a population as possible, but this forest is an Atlantic coastal dune forest, not that of the Landes plateau. »

It is on these small pine trees in full growth that the ONF is counting on the natural regeneration of the La Teste-de-Buch national forest.


It is on these small pine trees in full growth that the ONF is counting on the natural regeneration of the La Teste-de-Buch national forest.

Caroline Fourcade (NFB)

The other major project was to rehabilitate the beach car parks, affected by fires and marine erosion. The work is still underway to be ready before summer. The big change concerns Salie: “We redid the beach plan and enlarged the Salie Nord parking lot,” explains Caroline Fourcade, “where there is a first aid station, but the Salie Sud parking lot remains closed. Its reopening is still under consideration. »

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