A forest out of sight
Impossible to ignore it when you come, the forest accompanies you along the various routes allowing access to the dune of Pilat. However, it is not on her that you linger when you arrive. Arrived at the reception area of the Grand Site of the dune of Pilat, you turn your back to it to climb eagerly this mountain of fine sand which rises in front of you.
It is only when you are raised above the trees that you notice the vast wooded area stretching out to the horizon. Before your eyes, it is the user forest of La Teste de Buch (3800 hectares) and in the distance, the immense forest of the Landes de Gascogne.
But did you know? Behind the alignment of pines and the apparent uniformity of this vast territory, there is also a unsuspected diversity forests, landscapes, natural environments, with an incomparable history.
A little-known forest and history
Located at the foot of the dune of Pilat, the user forest of Teste-de-Buch is distinguished by its special status inherited from the Middle Ages, its ecological, biological, cultural and historical interest.
This 2000 year old forest, extends 3,800 hectares on ancient dunes, from the dune of Pilat, to Lake Cazaux, where it mingles with the Landes de Gascogne forest. She retained her character wild, as well as an impressive diversity of plant species.
Like the dune of Pilat, it is protected and classified under “monuments and natural sites”.
It has a marked relief, which is easily distinguished when walking around or when overlooking it. Composed of a mixture of pines, oaks, holly, beeches, arbutus, ferns, it also shelters pines with astonishing shapes, called “bottle pines” living witnesses of an ancient activity: the tapping.
For 2000 years, tapping has been one of the engines of local economic activity and a source of income for many inhabitants of Teste-de-Buch. This activity consisted of “injuring” the maritime pine by making a cut in its trunk, then collecting the resin in a pot.
Used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, it was used in particular in the manufacture of paints, perfumes, soaps, candles, etc.
This practice declined in the 1960s. But today we can see a renewed interest in tapping in the area.
A special status
This forest is said “user”, Because only the inhabitants of the former Captalate of Buch (La Teste-de-Buch, Gujan-Mestras, Arcachon, the tip of Cap Ferret) have the right to collect wood for heating, to build their houses, their cabins. and their traditional wooden boats.
In other words, forest owners can only harvest timber if they live there.
This is a unique case in France. This mode of exploitation dates back to the 15th century, it is codified by legal acts called "Baillettes and transactions", which still apply today.