France adopts an ambitious strategy for its protected areas

The One Planet Summit on January 11 at the Elysée.

It is a document which sets the course for the next decade and which should make it possible to demonstrate France’s exemplary nature on the international scene.

Expected for several months, the publication of the national strategy for protected areas was finally announced by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron himself, at the One Planet Summit meeting on Monday, January 11 at the Elysée, and the text made public the next day – a few days ahead of schedule.

This roadmap, which aims to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2030, is the first global strategy integrating both the metropolis and overseas as well as land and maritime issues. It is broken down into seven major objectives and eighteen measures aimed not only at developing the network of protected areas – which today covers 29.5% of the land and 23.5% of the seas – but also at strengthening its coherence. This mesh should strive to represent a diversity of ecosystems, habitats and species in all regions and principles of management and measures of effectiveness are stated.

The strategy also recalls the ” responsibility “ that carries the country, which shelters approximately 10% of the known species and 7 million hectares of tropical forests. France is particularly expected on the seas and oceans front: it has the second largest maritime space in the world, which notably includes 55,000 km2 coral reefs and lagoons.

Protect a third of the Earth’s surface by 2030

With this particular weight, France is showing the ambition to adopt the objective of protecting a third of the Earth’s surface by 2030 during the 15e world conference on biodiversity scheduled for the end of the year in China. At the national level, it will therefore go even faster.

Emmanuel Macron had announced it in May 2019 after the publication of a report announcing that a million species were threatened with extinction. “By 2022, we will increase the share of our marine and terrestrial protected areas to 30%, including a third of protected areas in full naturalness”, he said then. Since then, the notion of full naturalness has been replaced by that of strong protection: in these areas, the pressures generated by human activities will be “Removed or significantly limited”, says the strategy.

This point has been the subject of debate during the fifteen months of consultations and is still not completely convincing. The major ocean defense NGOs (Bloom, Greenpeace, Oceana, Pew, etc.) joined together to express their disappointment about this definition which, in their eyes, has to be reduced. “A strong protection zone à la française” as a simple marine protected area at the international level.

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