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Location France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Central coordinates 4o 52.00' East  43o 36.00' North
IBA criteria A1, B2, C1, C2, C6
Area 40,100 ha
Altitude 20 - 100m
Year of IBA assessment 2000

Ligue Pour La Protection des Oiseaux

Site description An area of mainly dry calcareous grassland with sclerophyllous scrub, and old orchards. The main land-uses are extensive traditional sheep-farming; and growing almonds and olives.

Key Biodiversity This is the only large semi-arid plain in France, and supports important populations of typical steppe breeding species.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Purple Heron Ardea purpurea breeding  1991  10-50 breeding pairs  C2, C6  Least Concern 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni breeding  1996  42-50 breeding pairs  A1, C1, C6  Least Concern 
Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus breeding  1991  10 breeding pairs  C6  Least Concern 
Milvus migrans breeding  1991  50 breeding pairs  C6  Not Recognised 
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax winter  1996  1,600 individuals  A1, C1  Near Threatened 
Little Bustard Tetrax tetrax breeding  1996  450-500 breeding pairs  A1, B2, C1, C6  Near Threatened 
Burhinus oedicnemus breeding  1991  300 breeding pairs  B2, C6  Not Recognised 
Pin-tailed Sandgrouse Pterocles alchata breeding  1996  150-170 breeding pairs  B2, C2, C6  Least Concern 
Little Owl Athene noctua breeding  1991  100 breeding pairs  B2  Least Concern 
European Roller Coracias garrulus breeding  1991  70 breeding pairs  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Calandra Lark Melanocorypha calandra breeding  1996  10-30 breeding pairs  C6  Least Concern 
Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla breeding  1991  1,000 breeding pairs  C6  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
FR248 Nature Reserve 140 protected area contained by site 140  
La Poitevine Private Reserve 146 protected area contained by site 146  
Les Coussouls de Crau Nature Reserve 7,411 protected area contained by site 7,411  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Shrubland Sclerophyllous scrub, garrigue and maquis  5%
Grassland Humid grasslands; Steppes and dry calcareous grassland  90%
Wetlands (inland) Standing freshwater; Water fringe vegetation  -
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land; Perennial crops, orchards and groves  10%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
hunting -
tourism/recreation -
urban/industrial/transport -

Protection status National Low International Partial146 ha of IBA covered by Voluntary Nature Reserve (La Poitevine, 146 ha). 11,500 ha of IBA covered by Special Protection Area (Crau Sèche, 11,500 ha).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Crau. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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