This paper presents a case study of an upland region in the Massif Central, which has over the years struggled to find some demographic, economic, ecological and cultural 'equilibrium'. The field site forms part of the Cevennes National Park, and contains habitats and landscapes of considerable ecological and cultural value. The society and landscape of the uplands studies have essentially been defined by low input agrarian land use practices, which are today increasingly in question. The decoupling of traditional agriculture from the environment brings to the fore changes in the ecology and the landscape. This research highlights the links between social, agrarian and ecological systems, and by implication the entwinement of cultural and biological diversity. It examines some of the opportunities and challenges facing European uplands today, including policies promoting high nature value farming. (C) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.