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Journal Articles Geoheritage Year : 2023

Geoconservation in France: History, Key Policies, and Current Tools


Geoconservation is a fairly recent matter in France in the wider scope of nature conservation, although its origins date back to the mid-nineteenth century with the first protected areas including sandstone block fields in the Fontainebleau forest. The recognition and protection of geoheritage are today integrated in French environmental policies, and specific legal and management tools have been created to conserve geological and geomorphological features. The aim of this paper is to propose a brief history of geoconservation in France and to present the recent national policies and current tools aiming to protect geoheritage. From a historical perspective, the role of artistic and scientific personalities as well as the influence of associations and learned societies (late nineteenth–early twentieth century) in the initiation of a geoconservation movement are underlined. However, the key policies and strategies favouring geoheritage protection in France come in the late twentieth–early twenty-first century. The 2002 Act on Local Democracy, which institutes the National Inventory of Geological Heritage and renews the legal framework of nature protection in France, is considered as a decisive step towards a comprehensive strategy fostering the conservation of geoheritage. Many key stakeholders are involved in the implementation of geoconservation strategies in the territories, from the national to the regional and local levels. As a result of the different environmental policies and strategies, a composite geoconservation toolbox is today available to protect the varied geoheritage of France. Among these tools, a special attention is paid to ex situ geoconservation in museums and scientific collections, and to educational activities within the French network of UNESCO Global Geoparks and other labelled territories. A discussion opens on the integration of the French geoheritage into different initiatives of international organisations, including the ongoing IUGS Global Geosites programme and the future IUCN initiative on Key Geoheritage Areas (KGA).
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hal-04109737 , version 1 (30-05-2023)



François Bétard, Isabelle Rouget, Fabien Hobléa, Isabelle Aubron, Philippe Billet, et al.. Geoconservation in France: History, Key Policies, and Current Tools. Geoheritage, 2023, 15 (2), pp.52. ⟨10.1007/s12371-023-00824-x⟩. ⟨hal-04109737⟩
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