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The programme > First phase Loire nature

First phase Loire nature

From 1993, with the aim of implementing concrete measures for the conservation and management of natural environments which are most representative of the Loire, the « Fédération des Conservatoires d’espaces naturels (Espaces naturels de France) » (Federation of Nature conservatories- Natural areas of France), and WWF put forward a programme to protect a free area in the river (“l’espace de liberté”) which was supported by the Ministry of the Environment and the European Union through a financial instrument for the environment (LIFE).

Between 1993 and 1998 this project was used as an experimental phase of operations likely to be duplicated on a larger scale and really reflected the idea of a "free zone" (area where a water course follows its natural route). A total of 2056 hectares were thereby durably conserved.

Apart from land management, one of the major interests of this phase of Loire nature is that it facilitated dialogue between associations and institutions. The fruitful partnership between regions, departments, towns, external Government departments, the Water authority and associations has never weakened since then. This first phase of Loire nature also provided the opportunity to increase innovative cooperation action with farmers. Educational trails have attracted thousands of residents who have rediscovered a living relationship with their river, its wealth and beauty.

The first successes for Loire nature

-  Programme between the Haut Allier and the estuary, on 12 sites selected on the basis of national and European inventories.
-  Involvement of 8 associations and conservatories.
-  Investment of about 8 million euros.
-  Conservation of 19 natural environment under the habitats Directive future Natura 2000 sites), housing more than 89 remarkable species.
-  Purchase of 30 km of banks subject to strong river flow dynamics1 as an alternative to rock armouring.
-  Creation of 2 nature reserves : Val d’Allier, La Charité sur Loire.
-  Ecological rehabilitation of 15 gravel pits.
-  Mapping of 6 500 hectares of land of great ecological value.
-  Development of discovery trails at the programme’s 8 sites and more than 26 000 people took part in guided tours.
-  Work with job creation and social insertion companies to create ecomaintenance jobs.

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