EEP European Environmental Press

Biodiversity in France

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Source: EEP European Environmental Press

At the fourth national congress on sensitive natural environments (ENS) which took place at Cerny (Essonne) on 18 and 19 October, the Assembly of French Departments and about 20 departmental councils signed the ENS charter, which is seen as a “major element of land-use policy and sustainable development”. Even though local authorities have been involved in the preservation and enhancement of ENS as a result of the law passed on 18 July 1985 giving them this responsibility*, they lacked a “common frame of reference ... in a rapidly changing legal environment”. Currently, ENS management policies are very diverse because of departmental characteristics, including direct or delegated management, management of the land or of the uses made of it, and varying ecological and geographical contexts.

The charter covers the preservation of “the quality of sites, landscapes, natural environments, and natural flood plains, and guarantees the preservation of natural habitats”. All these ENS must be adapted in order to be “open to the public, except in cases where the environment is very fragile”. The strategy of each council must be laid out in a departmental ENS schema which defines goals and operational means in both the long and short term (article 4 of the Charter).

In terms of management, councils that subsidise third parties must implement a contract which forms a quality guarantee, ensuring the grant is used appropriately. Each department must also publish an annual report of its actions and those of its approved and subsidised partners. A national logo for ENS will be created for the departments and a guide covering methods and techniques will be developed based on the diverse experiences of the departments.

* Creation of a departmental tax on sensitive natural environments and a legal tool (compulsory purchase orders).

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