1. POLICY SETTING
- Target 5 of the National Biodiversity Strategy 2011-2020 is to: “Build Green Infrastructure including a coherent network of protected areas”. In relation to this target, the Strategy underscores that “defining, preserving and restoring the green and blue infrastructure to good condition is a priority, although we must be alert to its impact on the movements of invasive alien species and its role as a pathway for the transmission of disease.” It further states that green and blue infrastructure must be designed in a coherent manner on all territorial levels, and also incorporated in overseas territories. It emphasises the role of protected areas as the key elements of this infrastructure: “the construction of a network of protected areas on land and at sea, in mainland France and overseas, in an approach based on ecological coherence and solidarity, is essential to implementing a national green infrastructure”.
- The French ‘trame verte et bleue’ (Green and Blue Network, GBN) is a spatial planning tool covering the entire national territory, with a core objective of stopping the decline of biodiversity by conserving and restoring ecological continuities to ensure provision of ecosystem services. Green and blue corridors are officially created by the 2010 Grenelle II law which requires the linking of sites previously identified for their importance for biodiversity conservation in order to overcome the current fragmentation of the French territory (Mazza et al., 2011). Many players are already implementing the GBN at different levels: national, regional, departmental and local. The state sets the framework and ensures consistency across the territory. The state and the regions develop together the "regional ecological coherence schemes", which are put to public consultation. They include an analysis of the ecological state of play in a Region; they identify ecological corridors and core biodiversity reservoirs. These regional schemes also include a strategic action plan for the Region that highlights actions that should be undertaken in order to contribute to maintaining biodiversity (measures addressing education, research, nature conservation and restoration activities, involvement players, etc.). It is intended that the schemes will pave the way to contractualisation between the regions and the local authorities. The departments pilot the policy in sensitive natural areas that contribute to the GBN. They can also carry out ecological connectivity restoration projects. Local authorities take into account ecological continuity in spatial planning documents and projects, in particular in urban development planning (European Commission, 2017).
- The new Biodiversity Law adopted in July 2016 includes measures such as the creation of the French National Agency for Biodiversity (AFB). Moreover, the law invites French regions to develop a regional governance on biodiversity with a Regional Council on Biodiversity (which will give strategic impulse) and a Regional Biodiversity Agency (which will finance and implement the plans and measures. Both entities include all the players concerned by nature and are chaired by the State and the regional authorities. This governance scheme illustrates the fact that French regions are in the leading position to determine the priorities for nature conservation on their territory and on the green and blue network.
- The new Biodiversity Law includes the principle of compensation of ecological damage, non-regression of environmental protection, and no net loss of biodiversity. It further consolidates into law the principle of applying the sequence ‘avoid, reduce, compensate’ ('éviter, réduire, compenser’), similar to the no-net-loss concept (European Commission, 2017); in the design and implementation of plans, programmes and projects (e.g. impact assessments, measures related to Natura 2000, protected species), the contracting authorities have to define appropriate measures to avoid, reduce or compensate negative impacts on the environment (Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Énergie et de la Mer, 2017).
- The National Strategy for Ecological Transition - Towards Sustainable Development (2015-2020) provides a policy framework for all national, public and private stakeholders in the field of sustainable development. The first priority identified by the strategy is to “Protect and strengthen the capacity of territories to supply and to benefit from ecosystem services”.
2. IMPLEMENTATION OF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
- LIFE Jura peatlands - Functional rehabilitation of the Jura mountains peatlands of Franche-Comté (06/2014 – 11/2020): The project aims to improve the conservation status of habitats listed in the annexes of the Habitats Directive in the peat bogs of the Jura Mountains. It will develop conservation management plans and implement hydrology restoration and other supporting works on land accounting for 37% of the Franche-Comté Natura 2000 Network.
Rohrschollen island - Restoration of the dynamics of Rhine alluvial habitats on Rohrschollen island (01/2010 – 06/2015): The project consisted of restoring the alluvial dynamics based on the natural hydrological regime of the river Rhine. It aimed to demonstrate that dynamic flooding is a means of preserving the character of the alluvial and riparian forest habitats, and restoring the necessary conditions for plant succession. The project also aimed to re-establish functional exchanges between the river and the aquifer, and restore the ecological connections between the island and the Rhine.
- Creation and restoration of a green and blue network in Alsace: From 2003, the Alsace Region implemented a programme for creating and restoring a network of green and blue spaces in the region, with the overarching aim of ensuring connectivity for species. Detailed mapping studies defined the nuclei, or core areas of the network, consisting of areas of high nature value, many of which were designated as Natura 2000 sites. To connect these nuclei, areas which could form ecological corridors were identified. In the plain of Alsace, the study identified an existing 152,000 ha of nuclei and corridors which already formed a green network. It was concluded that a further 7,700 ha of ecological corridors were needed to ensure sufficient connectivity between these existing areas. The region offered financial support for municipalities, NGOs and farmers who decided to create natural reserves, rehabilitate green spaces, plant hedgerows, rehabilitate brown field sites and for the creation of ecologically valuable green belts around villages (Mazza et al., 2011). In total, EUR 2.5 million were invested by the region in this initiative between 2003 and 2013. The project demonstrates best practice in achieving large-scale biodiversity protection on several different land uses through the implementation of small-scale actions by stakeholders. Its use of maps to ensure connectivity of the network and to prioritise protection in the most valuable sites is another aspect of best practice (Mazza et al., 2011).
Regional Nature Parks (Parcs naturels régionaux- PNR) have been created throughout France to protect rural areas with valuable landscapes, natural areas and cultural heritage. Such parks rely on extensive sustainable development plans allowing the protection and promotion of their resources. To date, 51 Regional Nature Parks have been designated (Fédération des Parcs Naturals Régionaux de France, n.d.).
- The public park of Hautes Bruyères (Parc Départemental des Hautes-Bruyères): the Council of Val de Marne converted a brownfield site into 23 hectares of public park with the purpose of reducing noise from a motorway, as well as providing a valuable community resource. The park houses a number of public allotments, spaces for recreation, education and biodiversity. A green buffer, a hill, and an amphitheater function as effective noise barriers to nearby residents. Prior to the renovation project, noise levels of up to 75 to 80 dB were measured at the site. The noise mitigation measures put in place have led to a reduction of up to 20 dB in the area where the park is located. In addition, the park offers a relaxation area, which is used by both the residents and patients from a nearby hospital and Europe’s leading cancer research centre - Institut Gustave Roussy. The park also promotes walking, sports, gardening, recreational and educational activities, which all contribute to better physical, mental and social health. The park also hosts a medicinal garden, consisting of around 900 plants of 85 different species. In 2014, a canal in the park was restored in order to increase biodiversity of the site (Schweitzer et al., 2016).
- Cannes participates in the Horizon 2020 project Urban Nature Labs (UNaLab) which aims to develop a robust evidence base and European framework of innovative, replicable, and locally-attuned nature-based solutions (NBS) to enhance the climate and water resilience of cities. UNaLab focuses on urban ecological water management, accompanied by greening measures and innovative and inclusive urban design.
- Brest participates in the Horizon 2020 project Green Cities for Climate and Water Resilience, Sustainable Economic Growth, Healthy Citizens and Environments (GrowGreen) which aims to deliver systemic changes to the long-term planning, development, operation and management of seven cities through the use of nature-based solutions (NBS), in order to deliver quantified improvements in climate and water resilience, social, environmental and economic performance.
3. MAINSTREAMING GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
- The EU Natura 2000 network is at the core of the EU's Green Infrastructure. In France, there are 1.758 Natura 2000 sites, including 1.366 sites established under the Habitats Directive and 392 under the Birds Directive. By early 2016, 12.7 % of the national land area of France was covered by Natura 2000 (EU average 18.1 %), with Birds Directive SPAs covering ca. 8 % (EU average 12.3 %) and Habitats Directive SCIs covering ca. 9 % (EU average 13.8 %). For Natura 2000, France has also established many tools and materials helping to streamline the approach on the national territory such as dedicated sectorial assessment methodologies for habitats and species at site level, a national guidance document for establishing the Natura 2000 management plans, dedicated Natura 2000 training sessions and "technical exchange days" (a national equivalent to the Natura 2000 biogeographical process) (European Commission, 2017).
- The ‘trame verte et bleue’ contributes to integrating GI in spatial planning. Local authorities take into account ecological continuity in spatial planning documents and projects, in particular in urban development planning (European Commission, 2017).
- Article 132 of the Grenelle II law establishes a multiannual programme for the restoration of the ecological continuity of water bodies, while Article 133 establishes the condition for the purchase and sustainable management of wetlands by public authorities. GI elements are thus used to ensure an enhanced and continued ecosystem service delivery from freshwater ecosystems, through restoration zones (adaptation of infrastructure, restoration of wetlands and natural connectivity of rivers) and sustainable land use (purchase of wetlands to ensure sustainable management) (Trinomics et al., 2016).
- The Conservatoire du Littoral is a public administrative body created in 1975 with the responsibility of conducting appropriate land-use policies for the protection of threatened natural areas. The Conservatoire’s mission is to buy fragile or threatened land. As soon as the site is acquired, an ecological audit is undertaken, the Conservatoire then oversees all restoration work, such as stabilising dunes, forestry restoration, guided walks and water management. The Conservatoire also oversees the maintenance and development of traditional activities (Mazza et al., 2011).
4. FINANCING GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE
5. CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR GI DEVELOPMENT
5.1 Best practice/points of excellence
Creation and restoration of a green and blue network in Alsace: From 2003, the Alsace Region implemented a programme for creating and restoring a network of green and blue spaces in the region, with the overarching aim of ensuring connectivity for species. Detailed mapping studies defined the nuclei, or core areas of the network, consisting of areas of high nature value, many of which were designated as Natura 2000 sites. To connect these nuclei, areas which could form ecological corridors were identified. In the plain of Alsace, the study identified an existing 152,000 ha of nuclei and corridors which already formed a green network. It was concluded that a further 7,700 ha of ecological corridors were needed to ensure sufficient connectivity between these existing areas. The region offered financial support for municipalities, NGOs and farmers who decided to create natural reserves, rehabilitate green spaces, plant hedgerows, rehabilitate brown field sites and for the creation of ecologically valuable green belts around villages (Mazza et al., 2011). In total, EUR 2.5 million were invested by the region in this initiative between 2003 and 2013.
6. KNOWLEDGE BASE
- The French national ecosystem assessment, EFESE ("L'Évaluation Française des Écosystèmes et des Services Écosystémiques") carried out work on the physical and ecological assessment of ecosystems services. Working groups have been set up in the framework of the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) process, focusing on different ecosystems (forest, wetlands, urban, agro-ecosystems, marine, rocks and mountains). An economic assessment has delivered a conceptual framework and the assessment of pollination services. Other values are being explored and concern less tangible benefits such as spiritual and mental wellbeing (European Commission, 2017; BISE, 2015).
7. FURTHER RESOURCES AND PUBLICATIONS
8. LIST OF CONSULTED REFERENCES
Association for Temperate Agroforestry (2014). Summary of the Silvo-arable Agroforestry for Europe (SAFE) Project. Accessed 11 April 2017: http://www.aftaweb.org/latest-newsletter/temporate-agroforester/94-2006-vol-14/april-no-2/86-summary-of-the-silvoarable-agroforestry-for-europe-safe-project.html
BISE (2015). MAES-related developments in France: http://biodiversity.europa.eu/maes/maes_countries/france
European Commission (2013). Green Infrastructure (GI) – Enhancing Europe’s Natural Capital. COM(2013) 249 final.
European Commission (2017). The EU Environmental Implementation Review Country report – France. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/eir/pdf/report_fr_en.pdf
Fédération des Parcs Naturals Régionaux de France (undated). What is a regional natural park? Accessed 11 April 2017: http://www.parcs-naturels-regionaux.fr/article/what-regional-natural-park
LIFE Project Database (undated)."LIFE Jura peatlands - Functional rehabilitation of the Jura mountains peatlands of Franche-Comté" Accessed 28.11.2016: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/project/Projects/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.dspPage&n_proj_id=4861
LIFE Project Database (undated)."Rohrschollen island - Restoration of the dynamics of Rhine alluvial habitats on Rohrschollen island" Accessed 28.11.2016: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/project/Projects/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.dspPage&n_proj_id=3543
Mazza L., Bennett G., De Nocker L., Gantioler S., Losarcos L., Margerison C., Kaphengst T., McConville A., Rayment M., ten Brink P., Tucker G., van Diggelen R. (2011). Green Infrastructure Implementation and Efficiency. Annex I.I: List of Identified Green Infrastructure Initiatives by Member State. Final report for the European Commission, DG Environment on Contract ENV.B.2/SER/2010/0059. Institute for European Environmental Policy, Brussels and London.
MEEDDM (2009) Etude d’Impact: Projet de loi portant engagement national pour l’environnement. http://www.senat.fr/leg/etudes-impact/pjl08-155-ei/pjl08-155-ei.html
Ministère de l’Écologie, du Développement durable, des Transports et du Logement (2011). National Biodiversity Strategy 2011-2020. https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/fr/fr-nbsap-v2-en.pdf
Ministère de l'Environnement, de l'Énergie et de la Mer (2017). Éviter, réduire et compenser les impacts sur l’environnement. Accessed 11 April 2017: http://www.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/eviter-reduire-et-compenser-impacts-sur-lenvironnement
National Biodiversity Strategy 2011-2020: https://www.cbd.int/doc/world/fr/fr-nbsap-v2-en.pdf
Région Alsace (undated). Politique de la trame verte et bleue de la Région Alsace : http://www.region.alsace/article/politique-de-la-trame-verte-et-bleue-de-la-region-alsace
Schweitzer J-P., Mutafoglu K., ten Brink P., Paquel K., Illes A., Gitti G., Kettunen M., TwiggerRoss C., Baker J., Kuipers Y., Emonts M., Tyrväinen L., Hujala T., and Ojala A. (2016). The Health and Social Benefits of Nature and Biodiversity Protection: Annex 1: 20 Cases. A report for the European Commission (ENV.B.3/ETU/2014/0039), Institute for European Environmental Policy, London/Brussels.
Stratégie nationale de transition écologique vers un développement durable 2015-2020 : http://www.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/SNTEDD%20-%20La%20strat%C3%A9gie.pdf
Trame verte et bleue - Centre de ressources (undated). Présentation de la TVB. Accessed 11 April 2017: http://www.trameverteetbleue.fr/presentation-tvb/qu-est-ce-que-trame-verte-bleue/definitions-trame-verte-bleue
Trinomics, ALTERRA, Arcadis, Risk & Policy Analysis, STELLA Consulting, and Regional Environmental Centre (2016). 'Green Infrastructure in Italy', in Supporting the Implementation of Green Infrastructure, Final Report to the European Commission under Service Contract ENV.B.2/SER/2014/0012, Annex I. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/ecosystems/pdf/Green%20Infrastructure/GI_water.pdf