An optimistic look at future of France’s wildlife

Its unique location means France has the greatest variety of plant and animal life in Europe, noted biologist and film maker Stéphane Durand explains to Jane Hanks

There is positive news about wildlife in France. Species which had almost disappeared are coming back, including seals, vultures and the controversial wolf, some on their own and others helped by man.

Stéphane Durand is a biologist and naturalist and the scientific adviser for a recent series of big nature films in the French cinema, produced by actor-turned-film maker Jacques Perrin.

These include Peuple Migrateur in 2001, which traced the story of migrating birds, Océans in 2009, looking at the marine species of Earth’s five oceans and Saisons in 2015, which traces the history of the European forest from the last Ice Age up to the modern age.

Stéphane Durand says there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the state of nature in France, with wolf, bear and deer numbers among those on the rise

Mr Durand is also editor of the Mondes Sauvages series for publisher Actes Sud and has recently written two books, one of which traces France’s ecological history over the past 20,000 years and the other which looks at the rewilding of France.

How diverse is the wildlife of France?

France has different climatic influences, oceanic to the west and continental to the east as well as Mediterranean to the south; it is exactly half way between the equator and the North Pole with the 45th parallel passing through it, so it is neither too cold, nor too hot.

It has young mountains, like the Alps and older, lower, rounder mountains like the Massif Central and the Vosges.

There are great plains, major rivers, many different soil types, and there are four coastlines, the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Channel and a tiny bit of the North Sea.

So there is an incredible range of different influences concentrated in one territory, which intermix and create varied conditions which can support an incredibly rich biodiversity in both fauna and flora.

This means we have the greatest variety of both animal and plant species in the whole of Europe.


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