The Cuscionu plateau, located in the centre of southern Corsica, forms a plateau between the high valleys of the Taravo and the main right bank tributaries of the Rizzanese (Codi and Chiuvione) and the ridge that leads to the Alcudina (Monte Incudine, 2134 m). It covers approximately 11,000 hectares shared between four municipalities: Zicavo, Aullène, Serra di Scopamène and Quenza.
With an altitude varying between 1400 m and 1700 m, the plateau is made up of a series of granitic ridges separated by more or less deep valleys and vast flat areas. Its geomorphology bears the traces of quaternary glaciations, from which emerge granite chaos where piles of balls dominate (Castellu d’Ornucciu, Punte Sistaja, Frauletu, etc.)
The flora of the plateau
The depressions are often occupied by pozzines. These are flat acidic peat bogs on an impermeable subsoil with a peaty felt soaked in water and essentially formed by the subterranean organs of grasses, Cyperaceae and dwarf Juncaceae with sphagnum mosses… The localities where the peat bog is pierced by deep pools are known by the inhabitants as pozzi (wells). Nowhere better than on the Cuscionu can one observe the contrast between the humid depressions dotted with “pozzi” and decorated in August by clusters of wolfsbane flowers, and their slopes where thorny xerophytes develop, constituting true dwarf fructicaceous moors with a typical cushion-like habit where false lobel broom and ETNA hawthorn dominate.
The fauna of the plateau
The main characteristic of the plateau is the existence of numerous cattle and pigs that roam freely. Since the middle of the 20th century, they have gradually replaced the sheep and goat herds, which still numbered 8,000 in 1950 and are now only represented by a few small herds. The pastoral vocation of the plateau is attested to as early as the 16th century, since Monsignor Giustiniani quotes the figure of 300 sheepfolds around 1530. Horses can also be seen on the pozzines, in connection with a certain development of equestrian activity. Other mammals are much more discreet and difficult to see: lammergeiers and golden eagles, woodcocks, thrushes, salamanders, euprocts, macrostigma trout in the streams, dormice in the beech forest, wild boar, etc.
A unique site
The Cuscionu plateau offers a great diversity of landscapes which makes it unique. Its famous pozzines, small pools of water and grassy islets, which can be found in particular on the Pianu d’Ornucciu side, were created with the melting of the snow of the ice age. The granitic rock contrasts with the green meadows, and in places creates a formidable disorder of shapes and colours. The Aconite, a small endemic (and toxic) violet flower, brings a touch of fantasy to this dreamlike landscape.