Parks, Reserves, and other Protected Areas in


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Protected Areas in France

In France, the law on national parks signed April 14th 2006 (which partially amends the law on the creation of national parks of 1960) - states that a territory can be declared National Park "when there is a special interest in the preservation of its natural environment and namely of its fauna, flora, soil, subsoil, waters, atmosphere and - possibly - cultural heritage, and it is therefore important to protect such an environment against deterioration as well as against any intervention which may alter its diversity, aspect, composition and evolution".
National Parks are formed by one or more central zones and by a peripheral one. In the former (the "heart"), some human activities are regulated and organised as to prevent any change in the fauna, flora, natural environment and landscape. Within central zones, some areas can even be subject to further restrictions (reserves intégrales), and entrance may be allowed for scientific purposes only. On the contrary, the peripheral zone ("adhesion area") is defined as the territory of the municipalities of the park, which have decided to adhere to its chart and to take part to its protection.
Following the creation - in March 2007 - of the Parc Amazonien de Guyane and of Parc national de La Réunion, France now counts 9 National Parks.

The aim of Regional Nature Parks is the protection, management and development of smaller territories, characterised by a rich natural and cultural heritage, but whose fragile balance is threatened. The territory of a Regional Park coincides with that of the Municipalities adhering to its Charter, a document which states the Park's objectives and the actions to be taken in order to realise them. Regional Parks' managing authorities are formed by representatives of all the interested entities - regions, departments and municipalities. Regional Parks aim at:
* protecting the territory's heritage, through a suitable management of natural environments and landscapes;
* contributing to the planning of the territory;
* enhancing economic, social and cultural development, as well as the quality of life;
* granting visitors suitable welcome, education and information;
* carrying out relevant experimental actions and contributing to research projects.
At present, there are 45 Regional Parks.

Nature Reserves are areas where an outstanding natural heritage is protected by specific legislation which takes the local context into account; nature reserves are divided - according to their aims, geographical situation and local context - into National, Regional and Corsican Reserves. Atthe beginning of 2007, France counted 320 nature reserves (covering more than 572,000 ha), divided into 153 National Reserves, 161 Regional Reserves and 6 Corsican Nature Reserves.

Sources: Ministère de l' Ecologie et du Développement durable, Parcs Nationaux de France, Fédération des Parcs Naturels Régionaux de France, Réserves Naturelles de France

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