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Green news in France - April 2019

An update on environmental events and occurrences in France: flora under threat, supermarket advertising leaflets and action on agriculture

French wild flowers under threat

Up to 15% of wild flora species – 750 flowering plants or ferns – native to mainland France are under threat of extinction, says the National Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

4,982 wild native species recorded in France have been the subject of a “thorough examination” by dozens of botanists for more than three years. 97 of the plants are found nowhere else in the world except France.

“We have been seeing the decline of wild flora in the country for several decades,” says Frédéric Hendoux, director of the National Botanical Conservatory of the Paris Basin. “What is worrying about flora is that plant species are the basis of all ecosystems.”

The primary cause of this “worrying situation” is human behaviour, he adds. “This rate of decline and disappearance is directly linked to human activities, with two main causes in recent decades: agricultural change and the disruption of natural environments through urbanisation and land use planning, such as roads or ski slopes”.

The list includes 51 species that are “critically endangered”. Among them: the Gizia Saxifrage endemic to the Jura, with its white or yellowish flowers and a musky smell, and Panicaut vivipare (pictured, left) a victim of the disappearance of wetlands in Morbihan.

Beginning of the end for paper pubs?

The days of reams of supermarket advertising leaflets blocking up letter boxes could be numbered. First, Monoprix halted the practice on january 1, “in order to preserve the environment and meet the expectations of urban residents” [which it says are its target customers].

A few weeks later, the Casino group which owns Monoprix said that by halting the distribution of around 30 million catalogues, “corresponding to 2,400 tonnes of paper”, it intended to “develop its customer communication”.

According to a study by digital marketing specialist Bonial, more than 20 billion catalogues, brochures and paper advertising leaflets are distributed each year.

Monoprix is not halting the distribution of brochures and catalogues completely – they will now be accessible via its mobile phone/tablet application.

Climate change: action on agriculture

The Nouvelle Aquitaine region has held a major symposium bringing together 400 researchers, led by climatologist Hervé Le Treut, to assess the potential impact of climate change on agriculture. It is the first step in the region’s roadmap for agricultural transition by 2030, which focuses on two key issues: the limitation of greenhouse gases and the removal of pesticides.

Another subject addressed was how winemakers in the region should adapt their practices in the face of rising temperatures, since global warming could lead to wines that are too strong in alcohol. 

Bottlings of 15% proof and above, for example, would no longer correspond to what is expected from Bordeaux wines. “Professionals must therefore work on the vines, in order to favour late varieties rather than early ripe varieties and therefore richer in alcohol,” said Lydia Héraud, regional advisor in charge of viticulture. “That’s why a grape variety like Petit Verdot is being revived in our region.”

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