Evisa is a mountain village surrounded by forests in which the plant life of the countryside is very diverse in formations which are typically Mediterranean, but also typical of regions at high altitude. The mixed forests marry leafy and resinous trees, creating very colourful landscapes in the autumn. The undergrowth occupies the ground space at the bottom of the valley and the aged trees, especially the laricio pine trees used in mature plantations, form remarkable “forest cathedrals”.
Evisa’s forests are Aïtone, Lindinosa and Lonca. They spread beyond the village boundaries between 2000m and 400m high. Interrupted by many valleys, they result in varied green landscapes depending on their exposure and altitude, punctuated here and there by impressive rocky massifs.
Evisa’s Forests are rich in Laricio Pine trees, pines and beech trees, and have been for many centuries as we know from publications from the XVIth century.
The Laricio Pines were, during the Genovese era, of great commercial value, for the quality of their wood, but mainly because of their exceptional size and the height of their perfectly straight trunk which is branchless all the way up to the summit. This tree was therefore perfect for naval construction, unlike the pine trees. The Romans, however, were the first to use them for this function.
The beech trees were used for making oars. There was enough production of this wood for it to suffice the needs of the Genovese and also that of other ruling powers. It is clear that the Aïtone forest showed characteristics interesting enough to catch the attention of the Genovese Republic. The wood correctly chopped and prepared by specialised woodcutters; depending on whether it was to be used for masts or not, was kept in casks or cut into planks. It was then transported to Sagone beach, often with some difficulty, from where it was dispatched to Genoa.
The Aïtone Forest also enabled the production of pine tar, and the extraction of resin by « pine-tapping », which, once refined, made possible the fabrication of pitch and turpentine. The bark was used to make dyes.
Archives show us that despite the abundance of the forest and its potential, the hard climate, the difficulties to access it, and the reluctance of the local population in accepting the presence of the Genovese and their forestry, made it an unprofitable affair. The Genovese forestry balance sheet did not show a profit here on the island with so much pressure on some species like the English Oak or the pine tree. Added to that were the agro pastoral customs and excessive clearing which contributed to the thinning out and exhaustion of the vegetation on some parts of the island.
After Corsica was yielded to France (1768), the forestry was to start up again. The Forests were then divided in 1852 to correspond to the Blondel agreement between the state and the villages.
Evisa and the Region (CTC) both own major forests in the area. Even though pine wood represents ¾ of forestry sales for the village of Evisa today, modern forestry has been greatly reduced. It is operated by the CTC-ONF but on a limited basis for commercial purposes. This operation is relatively low in volume compared to other forestry enterprises on the island.
This strategic choice allows the maintenance and the reconstruction of the diverse, sensitive eco-system of mixed forests.
The patrimonial value of the forest is even higher considering that it is a complex eco-system which hosts endemic animal and vegetal species such as the Corsican Nuthatch. From this diversity stems different classifications for protection and environmental management, such as Natura 2000 which is the most emblematic.
Today’s main threat to the Forest is fire, a danger which increases as the climate becomes hotter and drier. This is why it is imperative to inform and make the people who use this space aware of the danger.
Corsican Laricio Pine Tree
Pinus nigra subsp. laricio var. corsicana
U làrice ou u lariciu (nom corse)
Emblematic of Corsica and also endemic; this sub variety of the Black Pine is not an endangered plant species. Its natural environment is at elevations ranging from 800m and 1800m altitude and preferably with a southern exposure (sulana); on the northerly faces it mingles with timber forests of beech, pine and holly. The oldest specimens can reach 50m high and up to 2m diameter. It is characterized by its exceptional longevity which can be as long as 500 years.
Out of the 212 920 ha of Corsican forests, 45 000 ha accommodate Corsican Laricio Pines, 21 000 ha of which are covered solely by this species.