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Feedback on twelve years work on the national geoheritage inventory in France: results and advances for geosite protection

  • Rouget, Isabelle
  • Egoroff, Grégoire
  • de Kermadec, Claire
Publication Date
Jun 07, 2021
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In 2002 France established in law a "Natural Heritage Inventory" covering its entire territory, and defined as "an inventory of ecological, fauna, flora, geological, mineralogical and paleontological resources". For the first time geology, or "geological sciences", are clearly mentioned and are fully part of the Environmental Code. The State has committed itself to making an inventory, which was officially launched in 2007. It aims to identify all of the sites and objects of geological interest (in situ and ex situ) in French metropolitan and overseas territories, collecting and archiving their characteristics, prioritising and validating sites of heritage value, and assessing their vulnerability and their need for protection using quantitative methods (e.g. de Wever et al 2006, Brilha 2016). The use of the inventory was also intended to be as broad as possible, ranging in scope from public environmental protection policies to the dissemination of geological knowledge to a large audience.All of the parties involved in the construction of the geoheritage inventory have chosen to carry out a systematic inventory rather than using the "frameworks" approach (Wimbledon et al., 1995, de Wever et al., 2006). To register a geological site in this inventory and to allow its official dissemination, two steps are required: 1) each region proposes a comprehensive list which is worked out by local partners specializing in geological science. 2) Then each geological site identification is validated at the regional level, and then by the National Museum of Natural History at a national level (Fig. 1, De Wever et al. 2015). More than 3 000 geosites are inventoried at the national level to date and around 2000 of these are available on the website of the INPN (National Inventory of Natural Heritage, More than 4000 geosites are expected to exist by the end of the year. The ministry in charge of the environment continues to support this program and promote its use by professionals (civil engineers, universities, etc.) as well as by the public for environmental knowledge. As the Inventory of Natural Areas of Ecological Fauna and Flora Interest (ZNIEFF), the National Geoheritage Inventory (INPG) is permanent and should become a major tool to improve national nature protection policy. A new legal tool has already been created: The Prefectural Decree of the Protection of the Geotope, in 2015 (Auberger et al., 2018). In this context, the national geoheritage inventory helps to designate candidate sites with regard to their need for protection and their geoheritage interest. In this presentation we will use examples to explain how the inventory is built and how it could be used to improve the level of protection of national geoheritage.

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