Following the Law on the Protection of Nature of 1976 and the Law on the Protection and Improvement of Landscapes of 1993, the Law for the Restoration of Biodiversity, Nature and Landscapes was enacted on 9 August 2016. This law enshrines in French law a dynamic and renewed vision of biodiversity and aims to protect and enhance our natural heritage, making France the country of environmental excellence and green and blue growth.
Consolidating legal principles
- Setting up a system of compensation for ecological damage to strengthen and consolidate the achievements of the jurisprudence: the polluter pays principle, while guaranteeing a stable and clear framework for economic players.
- Registration in the law of the non-regression principle according to which the protection of the environment in the texts can only be subject to continuous improvement.
- Establishing the principle of ecological solidarity that anchors the importance of the links between biodiversity conservation and human activities. This principle of solidarity applies to territories and is useful for defining the conservation and restoration actions carried out to preserve and restore the green and blue fabric through reservoirs for biodiversity and ecological continuity.
Respond concretely to the challenges of biodiversity
- Valorisation of knowledge: data from impact studies are added to the inventory of natural heritage; the law recognizes landscape atlases and setting objectives for landscape quality.
- Protecting biodiversity in public and private choices: the national strategy for biodiversity is included in the environmental code; the sequence “prevent damage to biodiversity, reduce it failing and, as a last resort, compensate for residual impacts” (avoid-reduce-compensate) for development projects is strengthened and natural compensation sites are established to allow effective compensation; individuals can now make real environmental commitments; local authorities should integrate urban biodiversity into territorial climate-energy plans.
- Integration of the environmental dimension in commercial urbanisation: new provisions applicable to shopping centers such as greening of roofs, installation of renewable energy production, fight against artificial soils in parking lots.
Reaffirm that biodiversity is everyone’s business
- Establishment of civil society and expert bodies to involve stakeholders in biodiversity debates, at national and regional level: National Biodiversity Commission, National Nature Conservation Commission and Regional Biodiversity Commissions.
- Ban on patenting products derived from essentially biological processes to remove the brake on innovation caused by the proliferation of patent applications on living organisms.
- To preserve the cultivated biodiversity, permission for exchanges and free transfers to amateur gardeners, as well as free exchanges between farmers, of plant seeds that belong to the public domain (not listed in the official catalog of plant seeds).
Protect endangered species, vulnerable areas and the quality of our environment
- Strengthening instruments for the protection of endangered species: national action plans for the conservation and protection of endangered endemic species will be consolidated; criminal sanctions against trade in endangered species are being strengthened.
- Strengthening the protection of marine biodiversity: the law allows the creation of the 5th largest marine reserve in the world in the waters of the French southern and Antarctic territories, beyond territorial waters (between 12 and 200 nautical miles) and the establishment of fisheries conservation areas ; it mandates the installation of anti-collision equipment on French-flagged ships in the AGOA and PELAGOS sanctuaries, in order to protect cetaceans; it organizes an action plan for the protection of mangroves and coral reefs abroad.
- New resources in favor of landscapes: generalization of landscape plans and atlases; protection of tree lines along communication routes; recognition of the landscape architect profession.
- Ban on the use of pesticides containing neonicotinoids, effective September 1, 2018, to combat pesticides harmful to pollinating insects and human health.
- Restricting plastic to reduce marine pollution: The law will ban plastic microbeads in cosmetics and cotton swabs with a plastic swab from 2018 by 2020.
Turn biodiversity into a lever for economic development
- Authorization to ratify the Nagoya protocol governing access to natural genetic resources and sharing of their use (APA). France thus gives itself the means to fight against biopiracy and the monopolization of genetic resources to the detriment of the local population, by fulfilling an international commitment made 25 years ago at the Earth Summit in Rio.
- Supporting the development of professions in the green and blue economy and the sectors of the future, through the creation of the French Agency for Biodiversity, compensation instruments, the reaffirmation of the National Biodiversity Strategy, the contribution to the ‘open data for data from impact studies…
French Agency for Biodiversity
- To combat biodiversity loss and meet the challenges of adapting to the effects of climate change, the French Agency for Biodiversity is a benchmark operator serving a new development model. The agency has been operational since January 1, 2017.
- The French Agency for Biodiversity brings together four organizations involved in policies beneficial to biodiversity: the National Agency for Water and Aquatic Environments, the Agency for Marine Protected Areas, the Creation of National Parks of France and the Technical Workshop for Natural Spaces .
- The agency is an institutional reference in expertise, management, assistance and control, as well as a place of partnership with local authorities, associative networks, socio-professional circles, companies.
- The agency carries out missions to conserve, manage and restore biodiversity, it enables the development of knowledge, a balanced and sustainable water management, the fight against biopiracy, etc.
- Local authorities can set up regional biodiversity agencies with the aim of accelerating the implementation of actions in favor of biodiversity in the areas.