France Environment

France Environment

With an area almost double that of Italy and an extremely varied conformation that passes from the Alpine territories to the Mediterranean, continental, Atlantic and North European ones, France possesses an extreme variety of flora and fauna. The typical landscape is that of the temperate broad-leaved forest (chestnut, beech, oak), which occupies a significant portion of the national territory, despite the intense agricultural exploitation of French soil. In the more inland and colder areas, such as in the Jura, conifers appear, numerous in the Alps. In total, almost 30% of the French territory is occupied by forests (2011).

In the Midi the vegetal landscape appears completely different, poor, with the typical characteristics of the Mediterranean area; closer to the coast there is the so-called evergreen scrub, the garrigue. In addition, humid and marshy areas abound in the territory, where most of the French mammals and birds live. Even the fauna, which has undergone a considerable decrease over the centuries due to the intense urbanization of the country, is generally consistent with that typical of other areas of continental Europe, with foxes, deer, porcupines, wolves and wild boars. The rarest animals, such as chamois, ibex, birds of prey, brown bear, otter, pink flamingo, live in protected areas. According to ethnicityology.com, France’s advanced urban, economic and industrial development is at the root of numerous environmental problems. One of these is water pollution, caused by the production of industrial and urban waste by the main centers, which affects the course of the major French rivers and which is sought to be remedied by setting up water cleaning systems and imposing taxes on the production of pollutants. Urban areas are also plagued by air pollution, caused by car exhaust fumes as well as by the burning of fossils. The development of nuclear energy production makes France one of the countries with the lowest concentration of carbon dioxide, however, the very activity of nuclear power plants involves the production of a very high quantity of radioactive waste, which is difficult to eliminate without affecting the environment. Other risks for the territory are given by acid rain, the presence of illegal landfills and the pollution of coastal coasts. Among the environmental problems, hydrogeological instability and, more generally, the movement of land linked to morphological dynamics is of great importance. About 3,500 municipalities are affected, and in about sixty cases we can speak of real natural disasters. The areas most affected are the Alpine valleys, the slopes of the sedimentary basins of clayey constitution and the “living” coastal cliffs, therefore the departments of Haute-Savoie, Isère, Drôme, Eure-et-Loire, Marne and Senna Marittima, but also numerous others (including the former coalfields of the North), where the effects of atmospheric, biogeographical and anthropic processes are added. Exceptional weather events, often accompanied by heavy rainfall, have become increasingly frequent in Brittany, Lorraine, the Massif Central and the southern regions, increasing the risk of flooding, which directly affects about thousands of municipalities, including cities such as Nancy, Metz, Nîmes. Forest fires also recorded worrying peaks, although not such as to compromise the forestry heritage on a regional scale. The biological consequences (increased risk of floods, hydrogeological instability, soil erosion) due to the occurrence of the feedback effects, accumulated in the phases of exponential growth of large urban-industrial concentrations, are more serious, and are now difficult to reverse.

As far as environmental protection is concerned, the French law for the establishment of parks and nature reserves dates back to 1960; in addition, with regard to international agreements, France has signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol and is one of the countries adhering to the Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP), aimed at defending the integrity of the Mediterranean region and supporting sustainable development initiatives. Metropolitan France currently has 7 National Parks, as well as numerous other protected areas, for a total of approximately 28% of the territory. The Ecrins and Vanoise Parks are located in the Alpine area, and include areas over 4000 m; they offer the typical flora of the alpine areas and a fauna composed of ibex and golden eagles. The Mercantour Park, located in the southernmost area of ​​the Alps, offers an alternation of mountain pine forests and extensions of Mediterranean scrub. Port Cros Park occupies the island of the same name. It has a fully Mediterranean vegetation, multitudes of butterflies and water birds, and also includes a portion of the surrounding sea. The Western Pyrenees Park, located at high altitude, records the presence of bears, griffins and wild cats. The area of ​​Mont Perdu, in the Pyrenees, shared with Spain, was declared a naturalistic and cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 1997. Previously, in 1983, the Gulf of Porto with its badlands was included in the UNESCO heritage list. of Piana, the gulf of Girolata and the Scandola Nature Reserve, in Corsica. 3 national parks have also been established on external territories: the Guadeloupe Park, the Amazonian Park of Guyana and the La Réunion Park. The central area of ​​the latter (Pitons, circuses and escarpments of the island of Réunion) was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010, as well as the site called the Lagunas of New Caledonia.

France Environment