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Gardarem lo Larzac ! Peasant fight against a military camp in the Larzac plateau, France

In October 1971, the Minister of Defense announced the expansion of a military camp in the Larzac plateau threatening local farmers’ livelihoods. In response, thousands of activists organised to refuse the project.


The plateau of Larzac­ –located in the southern Massif Central area of France–consists of agricultural land used for sheep farming and milk production for Roquefort cheese.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Gardarem lo Larzac ! Peasant fight against a military camp in the Larzac plateau, France
State or province:Occitanie
Location of conflict:Causse du Larzac
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Military installations
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Extension of the military camp within the territory of Larzac from 3,000 to 17,000 hectares.

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Project area:14,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectEstimation of 50,000,000$
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Direct affected population: around 100 farmers and their families
Start of the conflict:28/10/1971
End of the conflict:10/05/1981
Relevant government actors:Ministery of Defense
Government of France (François Mitterrand)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Société Civile des Terres du Larzac
- Mouvement Nationale de Jeunesse Catholique
- Federation of Farmers’ Unions
-Jeuness Agricole Catholique (Young Catholic Farmers)
-Chrétiens danse le Monde Rural
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Soil contamination
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:The Société Civile des Terres du Larzac (SCTL) aimed to transfer the management responsibility of the area (buildings and land) back to a body independent of State power. Initiated in 1982 by farmers with the help of legal advisors, associates of the SCTL are either people making use of agriculture or pastureland, non-agricultural users of buildings given to the SCTL to manage, or farmer members of a common land management committee. Farmers represent most of the management committee, emphasizing that farming is the main activity in Larzac. The development of non-agricultural rural activities is also guaranteed by the representation of non-agricultural users among the committee, this way permitting better living conditions and a balanced representation of all interests on the Plateau of Larzac. This alternative management system is a success: the SCTL signed a sixty-year lease renewable for 6,300 ha with the State on the 29th of April 1985 [7].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:Victory for the resistance movement when the newly elected President François Mitterrand formally abandoned the project.
Sources & Materials

[1] “Larzac peasants campaign to block expansion of military camp (The Battle of Larzac), 1971-1981” | Global Nonviolent Action Database. [Online].
[click to view]

[2] R. Gildea and A. Tompkins, “The Transnational in the Local: The Larzac Plateau as a Site of Transnational Activism since 1970,” Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 50, No. 3 (JULY 2015), pp. 581-605.
[click to view]

[3] G. P. Pezzi, “The fight of larzac,”15 November 2017. [Online].
[click to view]

[4] Pierre-Marie Terral, “Larzac : du refus local de l’extension du camp militaire au soutien à la « cause du causse » (1971-1981),” Annales du Midi : revue archéologique, vol. 124, pp. 359–374, 2012.
[click to view]

[5] J. Gavroche, “The winds of May 68 in France: The Larzac,” Autonomies, 22 April 2018. [Online].
[click to view]

[6] “Les richesses naturelles du Larzac,” Terres du Larzac. [Online].
[click to view]

[7] “The Société Civile des Terres du Larzac (Larzac Land Trust), an innovative and original approach to rural land management”, 2002. [Online].
[click to view]

Other comments:“Des moutons pas des canons"

"Gardarem lo Larzac !"
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Last update23/04/2022
Conflict ID:5867
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