French agency preserves Caribbean beaches and coasts

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Mouth of the Oyapock River © Mathieu ENTRAYGUES  

PARIS, France — For 35 years the Conservatoire du Littoral has been administering, protecting and promoting France’s most remarkable and most threatened coastal areas, both in mainland France and its overseas territories.

The experts of this important public body also work in other countries, particularly in the context of partnerships with local authorities.

Thanks to the work of the Conservatoire du Littoral, the public can enjoy hundreds of kilometres of wild beaches and protected coastal paths. From Pointe du Raz in Brittany to Cap Corse, the Conservatoire du Littoral has been buying up land on all France’s shores for 35 years to release it from the pressure of development. This major French public body owns 80,000 hectares, and extends its legal protection to 138,000 hectares along 1,200 kilometres of coastline.

Another part of the Conservatoire du Littoral’s activity is developing apace, in France’s overseas territories. Projects to protect and enhance sites have been implemented in the four Overseas Departments and in Mayotte in the last 20 years.

This year the Conservatoire has confirmed that it will be keeping an agency in each of the eight overseas regions concerned.

“The European Union contributes regular financial support for the Caribbean,” pointed out Marc Duncombe, Overseas representative. “In French Guiana a partnership with Brazilian institutions is being developed. In the Oyapock estuary, for example, we are organising coordinated management of Brazilian and Guianese sites, with scientific monitoring, observation, training and a section concerned with cultural heritage.”

The French territories (West Indies, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Mayotte and La Réunion) are extraordinary in terms of biodiversity, with coral reefs, mangrove swamps and dry forests.

“In these regions of great contrast, we are running innovative projects based on the specific characteristics of their regulations, landscapes and environments,” explained Duncombe.

The Conservatoire du Littoral is also active abroad, notably at the request of countries wishing to establish ways of protecting their coastlines. In this respect, it is very important to make an assessment of the local situation and find a consensus.

“We have to involve the local people in our thinking and show them that our action is both effective and economically viable. Our strength of conviction enables us to win over the support of the most recalcitrant among them!” says Fabrice Bernard, International representative.

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