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Green news - February 2019

An update on environmental events and occurrences in France

Aid for drought farmers

Livestock farmers in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, badly affected by the summer 2018 drought, are to receive state funding up to €2,000 per farm in order to pay for cattle feed.

The local authority, headed by Laurent Wauquiez (Les Républicains) estimated that between 12,000 and 16,000 farmers in the area are affected, with grass feed harvests down by 30 to 50%, especially in the Ain, Allier and Cantal departments.

On average, by November the price of grass fodder had doubled to €160 per tonne. Many farmers had already been using stored fodder stocks since August, when their usually verdant meadows were being scorched by drought.

Michel Joux, president of the regional branch of the FNSEA, the country’s leading agricultural union, said the funding was “a very strong symbolic and political gesture”, but called on departments and State authorities to do more.


Chestnuts trees destroyed in Bordeaux

Campaigners failed in their attempt to prevent the felling of 17 of the 38 chestnut tress standing in a Bordeaux square, despite a petition that had amassed more than 10,000 signatures.

It took just a few hours for local |authorities to remove the trees in Place Gambetta in Bordeaux, in order for a new layout of the square to be started. “If only all the construction sites in Bordeaux could go so fast,” quipped Pierre Hurmic, a municipal representative from the Europe Écologie Les Verts party.

“What a massacre!” a local woman was reported as saying in 20 Minutes. “I enjoyed walking there... At a time when we have to protect nature, we concretise everything.”


Snails used to study environment

Instead of covering escargots in garlic butter and cooking them for lunch, a laboratory at the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon is using snails as bioindicators in order to assess the quality of the environment.

Under laboratory conditions, scientists are studying small particles ingested by the snails from soil samples taken from around France. The particles cannot be detected in soil because they are present in too small doses, but they gather in the animal’s lung.

“The snail is ideally located at the interface between soil, plants and air,” said ecotoxicologist Frédéric Gimbert, who uses his findings to pinpoint historic sources of contamination potentially dangerous to humans, such as on old mining sites in the Vosges and Alsace vineyards.


Strasbourg bypass is ‘ecological stupidity’

Former ecology minister Nicolas Hulot has called Strasbourg’s planned bypass – aimed at alleviating traffic and pollution in the Grand Est city – ‘ecological stupidity’.

Speaking on L’Emission politique on France 2, Hulot referred to the project – called the Grand Contournement Ouest – when explaining his powerlessness in office. “Legally, at any given time, I was stuck. First of all, because local elected officials were in favour of it, and Paris does not decide everything”.

“No one listened to me,” he said of his final attempts to implement more stringent social changes as part of the government’s ‘energy transition’ plan.

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