Mountains and Rural Areas

Mountains and rural areas make up the majority of our regional landscapes. In fact, 54.8% of our region’s total surface area is covered by mountains.
Rural communities account for a significant proportion of our population: 58% of our inhabitants live in towns and villages with between 200 - 10,000 inhabitants. Local and regional development is one of the Region’s most fundamental roles; in addition, Regional authorities must also work to ensure equality between these various areas and communities.

The Region has allocated a budget of €12.15 million to boost and promote development in rural areas and mountainous regions. Two development contracts from the Plan Interrégional État-Région 2015-2020 have been signed in order to enhance resources and biodiversity in the Massif Central and the Pyrénées. Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée is working alongside other regions bordering these mountains in order to ensure their preservation and protection.

The EU is actively engaged in the development of mountainous regions, and has put forward two specially-adapted programmes for the Massif Central and the Pyrénées: these involve increasing tourism opportunities, promoting natural heritage, the prevention of natural risks and pastoralism.

The Region aims to develop these rural areas to their full potential. A specific policy for rural towns has been implemented in order to enhance the appeal of these “isolated” areas.

Regional Policies


A Mountain Parliament, providing an outlet for the concerns and expectations of local residents and stakeholders

The Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée region boasts two mountain ranges: the Massif Central and the Pyrenees, which combine to cover 54.8% of the region and involve 20.8% of its inhabitants.
In order to optimise preparations for the strategic directions outlined in the Plan Montagne initiative, a special “mountain parliament” will be established in 2017. This institution will gather representatives from all walks of mountain life (local councillors, socio-professional stakeholders, etc.). To this end, the Region has allocated a budget of €1.5 million to carry out initiatives to “de-isolate” these mountain areas.

The Massif Central

The Région Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée is involved, along with three other regions (Auvergne-Rhône Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche Comté and Nouvelle Aquitaine), in the Contrat de Plan Interrégional Etat Régions Massif Central 2015-2020, an inter-regional five-year plan for the Massif Central agreed between the state and regional governments. This pact will address four main objectives:

  • Enhancing the appeal of the Massif Central
  • Boosting wealth creation
  • Supporting adaptation to climate change
  • Developing local capabilities and promoting cooperative ventures

The Massif Central also benefits from inclusion in the ERDF Interregional Operational Programme for the Massif Central (POMAC). This programme focuses on the preservation of the Massif Central’s unique biodiversity, as well as the development of nature tourism, support for the wood/timber sector and localised innovation to boost the area’s appeal.

Wood and Timber production

Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée is France’s second most heavily-forested region, with 35% of its landscape covered in trees.

  • improving forestry operations and management (forest access roads, forestry equipment, cable logging)
  • forest renewal (reforestation and adaptation to climate change, agro-forestry initiatives, etc.) and protection of forested areas (Restoration of Mountain Landscapes, Forest Fire Protection)
  • support for businesses in the wood and timber sector

The Pyrenees

The Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée region is a signatory to an interregional development contract as part of the Pyrénées 2015-2020 Plan, along with the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. This “Pyrenian” development contract covers four main areas:

  • Broadening the appeal of the mountain range
  • Creating added value
  • Adapting to climate change
  • Promoting the “Pyrenian” identity and developing cooperation with other mountain regions.

The Pyrenees mountain range also receives support from the ERDF Pyrenees Interregional Operational Programme.

Key facts:

  • 2 mountain ranges: the Pyrenees and the Massif Central
  • these mountains cover 54.8% of the surface area of the region
  • Of the region’s 13 departments, 12 contain mountainous areas
Rural Areas

Placing rural towns at the heart of its localised initiatives

The Region is investing to reinvigorate rural areas while also fighting to ensure their preservation. In Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée, 58% of inhabitants live in communities of 200 - 10,000 inhabitants. Country towns and areas with rural populations are common all over Occitanie. The Assembly of Local Districts, established in November 2016, is a unique consultation forum. This body exists in order to apply regional initiatives on a local level, and encourage open dialogue on policies for rural towns.

Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée is focusing its attention on rural areas suffering from population decline and struggling to be seen as attractive places to live. The Region is taking action in these deserted areas by way of Regional Policy Contracts, paying particular attention to areas with rural populations. The Region is aiming to develop a localised policy that will reinvigorate district towns. These types of areas are pivotal in terms of the economic and demographic development of rural areas.

Building on various investments to promote local development (and more particularly, equality between regional districts), the Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region has defined four programmes in order to harmonise its support for agri-rural areas.

  • Agri-Rural Development: maintaining and developing agricultural operations.
  • Hunting & Fishing: providing aid for hunting and fishing activities, which have the potential to boost tourism.
  • Agricultural property: overseeing farmlands and controlling prices in order to promote agricultural operations.
  • Pastoralism: helping livestock farmers set up operations in undervalued areas.