291 584 acres
861 km shoreline (1)
On 10th July 1975, following a Government proposal, Parliament created a public organisation with the remit of ensuring the definitive protection of outstanding natural areas on the coast, banks of lakes and stretches of water of 1000 hectares or more. This was the beginning of the "Conservatoire de l'espace littoral et des rivages lacustres".
The Conservatoire du Littoral is a public administrative body with the responsibility of conducting appropriate land-use policies for the protection of threatened natural areas. Its remit and domain of competence are defined in the Rural Code (articles L243 and R.243). Its activities cover 22 regions, 47departments and 1145 coastal and lake communes.
The Conservatoire's aquisition programme is defined by an administrative council half of which is composed of elected members and half of qualified individuals chosen from conservation organisations and representatives from administrations concerned with shoreline protection. First the elected members are consulted, particularly those from the seven coastal councils ² which are made up of councillors from the regional and general councils. The communes are systematically consulted on the projects concerning them.
(1) 1st januanry 2009.
(2) The Channel North Sea, Atlantic Brittany, the Mediterranean, Corsica, lakes, French shorelines in America, French shorelines in the Indian Ocean
Reasons for intervention
Over the years, the Conservatoire has defined three main criteria for selecting land for acquisition:
- the site is threatened by urbanisation, being divided -up or being made artificial (for example, the infilling of wetlands);
- the site has deteriorated and needs rapid restoration,
- the site is closed to the public whereas it should be open to everyone.
The Conservatoire has three procedures it can use to acquire land: either by private agreement, by pre-emption in coastal areas defined by the departments or, more rarely, by expropriation on grounds for reasons of public interest The great majority of acquisitions today are made by private agreement Once acquired the land becomes inalienable, meaning that it cannot be resold.
In application of the law of 10th July 1975, the management of the Conservatoire's sites (everyday maintenance, wardening, access) is entrusted primarily to local authorities if they accept In certain cases, the management is delegated to mixed syndicates, public bodies, foundations or appropriate organisations. Sometimes a local authority and a nature protection organisation share the responsibility of the site management. The management of woodland sites is entrusted to the national forestry commission. Wherever it is possible and compatible with the sensitivity of the environment, local activities and customs, traditional or otherwise, which can ensure part of the site management are conserved, even encouraged. Thus there are more farmers today on the Conservatoire du Littoral's land than at the time of acquisition.
Studies and works
As soon as the site is acquired, an ecological audit is undertaken, the Conservatoire then oversees all restoration work: stabilising dunes, forestry restoration, guided walks, water management etc... The Conservatoire also oversees the maintenance and development of traditional activities such as grazing and saltworkings.
Each year more than fifteen million visitors frequent the Conservatoire's sites. These sites are recognisable by the Conservatoire's emblem, the blue Sea Holly and the words 'espace naturel protégé' (protected natural area). On certain sites, visitor centres have been set up as well as observation pathways or equipment to aid a better understanding of the site and its natural environment.
Public access is kept within limits compatible with site and species conservation. Motorised vehicles, camping and caravanning are forbidden on the Conservatoire's sites.
The Conservatoire consists of a team of ninety people in which 46 are permanents. It is organised in regional delegations with six centres spread out along the coast. The Conservatoire's headquarters are at Rochefort, in the Corderie Royale (royal ropemakers') building. It also has offices in Paris.
With twenty five years'experience, the Conservatoire is one of the most important land protection organisations in the world. It insists on sharing its experience and in developing specialist missions in France and abroad with all the actors of coastal conservation. It is working specifically on a Mediterranean project.
Donations and legacies
The Conservatoire is empowered to receive all donations and legacies and is also supported by company patronage. In addition, since October 1996 it benefits from donations in lieu of death duties. The Conservatoire can also be assigned properties from the State's private domain free of charge.
Donations should be addressed, by cheque or Girocheque, to:
"Conservatoire du littoral - Fondation de France"
Corderie Royale - BP 13 7 - 1 7306 Rochefort cedex
Individuals' donations are tax deductible, in France, up to a limit of 50% of the total donation, in the limit of 6% of taxable income. An acknowledgment of receipt will be sent for all donations of 100 Fs or more.
Amongst the Conservatoire's sites are:
The Slack Dunes (Pas-de-Calais)
Marquenterre Ornithological Park (Somme)
The island of Tatihou (Manche)
Beauport Abbey (Côtes-d'Armor)
The Pointe du Raz (Finistère)
Certes estate in the Arcachon Basin (Gironde)
The Orx Marshes (Landes)
The Abbadia estate (Pyrénées-Atlantiques)
The island of Sainte-Lucie (Aude)
Rayol gardens (Var)
The Agriate (Haute-Corse)
The Roc de Chère on the shoreline of Lake Annecy (Haute-Savoie)
The Caravelle peninsula (Martinique)...
CONSERVATOIRE DU LITTORAL
President : Jérôme Bignon
Director : Emmanuel Lopez
Corderie Royale - BP10137
Tél : 05 46 84 72 50
27, rue Blanche - 75009 PARIS
Tél : 01 44 63 56 60
Le Riverside - quai Giard - 62930. WIMEREUX
5-7, rue Pémagnie , BP 546 - 14037 CAEN cedex
8, quai Gabriel Péri - Port du Légué - BP 474 - 22194 PLERIN cedex
165, rue Paul Rimbaud - BP 6035 - 34030 MONTPELLIER cedex
3 rue Marcel Arnaud - Bastide Beaumanoir - 13090 AIX-EN-PROVENCE
3, rue Luce de Casabianca - 20200 BASTIA