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The various climatic zones at the different altitudes in Corsica are home to numerous plant and animal species.


At least half of the island is covered in the evergreen Macchia undergrowth. When it blossoms in spring in a feast of colour, it releases a fragrance that is so intensive that you can even smell it off the coast. According to the Corsicans, Napoleon Bonaparte proudly claimed to be able to recognise his home island just from this scent. Further typical plants that feel at home on Corsica include lavender, myrtle, strawberry trees, rockrose, thyme, sage, rosemary, broom and tree heather. They frequently dry out during the summer months and, because they provide excellent tinder, often succumb to forest and bush fires.

Laricio pine trees

The most widespread tree species on Corsica is the Corsican or Laricio pine, which can grow up to 50 metres in height and can live for a thousand years. This tree species is able to adapt to harsh conditions and can withstand prolonged periods of frost without any problems, which is why many pine forests can be found at higher altitudes between 800 and 1,800 metres. Corsica is also renowned for its many sweet chestnut trees, which cover roughly 40,000 hectares of the island. They were planted by the Genoese on a large scale in order to alleviate the frequently occurring famines. Eucalyptus trees were also artificially propagated: the trees, which can reach up to 40 metres in height and have silvery grey bark, transpire considerable amounts of water, which made them ideal helpers when draining swamps and stemming the spread of malaria.

Cork oaks

To harvest natural cork, the outer bark of the cork oaks, which are particularly widespread in the south of the island, is stripped off every 10 to 20 years. Numerous other trees and plants typical for the Mediterranean region also flourish up to an altitude of 400 metres, including sycamores, date palms, cypresses, olive trees, oleander and mimosa. There is also agriculture production, which includes the cultivation of citrus fruits and peaches along with fig and almond tree plantations and vineyards.

Corsican wildlife

Corsica’s diverse wildlife includes several species that are endemic to the island, i.e. can only be found on Corsica. These include the Corsican Nuthatch, which is a small bird, and amphibian species such as the Corsican Brook Newt, the Corsican Fire Salamander and the Corsican Painted Frog. They all live at middle and higher altitudes on the island, whereas the non-endemic species can be predominantly found at lower elevations. Here it is possible to find geckos, pond terrapins and colubrids; praying mantises, tarantulas and black widow spiders; trout, eels and freshwater shrimps; eagles, buzzards and hawks. Corsica also provides an important haven for migrating European birds and, between October and March, large flocks of water and shore birds can be seen on the lagoons along the eastern coast as they pause for a rest. With a bit of luck, you can also see quite different travellers from the coastal road at Bonifacio and at Cap Corse. Here sperm whales and dolphins occasionally swim past.
Because of the island’s location, the mountainous landscape and the widespread hunting that used to take place, Corsica’s mammal fauna is not very diverse. The most frequently found mammal is wild boar, while the Macchia vegetation provides a home to hares, mouse weasels, several species of wildcat and foxes. From the previously extinct species such as the Corsican Red Deer and the European Mouflon, which inhabited Corsica for 8,000 years, several animals were able to survive on Sardinia and have now been reintroduced.