Meet the creator of France’s newest national park

The Connexion speaks to Hervé Parmentier, director of the Public Interest Group that has spent the last five years setting up France’s newest National Park

The 11th National Park in France was created this winter after 10 years in the planning to represent the deciduous forests of France, which had not been represented until now in any of the other existing parks.

The Parc National des Forêts de Champagne et Bourgogne, with 50 million trees, is on the plateau de Langres, straddles the Côte d’Or and Haute-Marne, covers 250,000 hectares, contains 127 communes, and is home to 28,000 inhabitants.

 

Why was this region chosen ahead of the other 17 options to become France’s newest national park?

It was chosen because it was found to be the most representative and the most remarkable example of a forest in France.

It is the most representative because it is typical of the forest that covers large parts of the north-east of France. It is absolutely remarkable for several reasons.

Firstly, because it is one of the rare forests which has been present since before the Revolution.

After the Revolution, forests were cut down for agriculture, and for timber, which was used for heating and for building homes and ships.

There were only 7million hectares of forest, whereas now there are 15million hectares.

Secondly, some of it is so old we find conditions that existed just after the period of the last Ice Age.

Thirdly, it has extraordinary examples of animal and plant life. We have the rare Lady’s Slipper orchid, the wildcat and 20% of the French population of black storks, which appreciate the calm of the region and the huge beeches for nesting.

Lady's Slipper Orchid
Wild cat
Black storks

There are also healthy populations of deer which appreciate the rich meadowland. Water is abundant, with around one hundred springs, 694kilometres of rivers and streams and unspoilt marshland.

It is also an area rich in human history and culture.

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