Nature reserves are protected natural places of national or international importance. They all protect very specific habitats and form a representative network of the richness of the territory.
A nature reserve is a judicial tool that allows an effective and continuous protection of a fragile and remarkable natural place. It’s also a tool of management that can ensure the conservation and maintenance of the patrimony.
The statute of “Nature Reserve” is one of the strongest statutes of protection in France. They are the equivalent, for the smaller territories, to zones of protection enforced by national parks.
The nature reserves’ objectives of conservation are enumerated by law:
– the protection of animal and plant species and of habitats in danger of disappearing ;
– the protection of remarkable habitats (biological or geological) ;
– the protection or creation of stages on the great migration routes of wildlife ;
– the realisation of scientific or technical studies that are indispensable for the development of human knowledge.
The nature reserves are created by the State and under its responsibility. The prefect is the responsible authority on the local level. He is advised by a “consultative management committee”, which he heads, bringing together the representatives, the public authorities, scientists, environmental groups, user associations and representatives of socioprofessional structures.
The prefect appoints a/several custodian(s) charged with the supervision, the administration and the presentation of the site.
Since 2002 the regions have the possibility of creating regional reserves. The national and regional nature reserves form the network “Nature Reserves of France” (« Réserves Naturelles de France »).