Green news France: €110m for hedgerows, marine protection for Nice

The government will also create a specialist team to dismantle and prevent environmental protest camps

A marine protection zone is planned for Nice’s Baie des Anges; 50,000km of hedging to be planted; special team to stop environmental protest camps

Hedgerow replanting pledge

With a pledge to plant “in quantity and quality” the government has outlined a ‘pact’ to ensure that France has around 800,000km of haies (hedgerows) by 2030 – 50,000 more than there are today.

The Ministry of Agriculture’s budget plan for 2024 includes €110million for replanting hedgerows, which continue to disappear from the landscape at an alarming rate, often to accommodate heavy machinery in fields or make way for crops.

Hedges serve many purposes: they preserve biodiversity, protect against soil erosion and water run-off, store carbon, and shelter livestock from the sun.

A ministerial report from April this year outlined the urgency of the situation, stating that over 20,000km of hedgerows are lost every year and that current replanting programmes – totalling just 3,000km per year – are inadequate.

Of the 20,000km of hedgerow lost annually, “an estimated 5,000km have been uprooted by local authorities or farmers, and 15,000km have withered away” due to lack of maintenance, according to the office of Marc Fesneau, the French Minister of Agriculture.

In order to “stop the bleeding”, “not only do we need to plant, but we also need to manage what already exists” he said in a statement.

“The hedgerow is a powerful symbol of the possible reconciliation of all players affected by the challenges of ecological transition.”

The statement added that in a “very divided society” the hedgerow issue can “bring hunters, environmental protection associations, local authorities and farmers together around the table.”

Read more: Gardeners in France told to stop cutting hedges in bird nesting season

Europe votes for greener measures

The European Parliament has voted by a notable majority to increase the proportion of renewable energies consumed by member states from 22% to 42% by 2030.

In the transport sector, member states will have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 14.5% through the use of renewable energies by 2030, or achieve a 29% share of renewable energies in the sector’s final energy consumption.

The European Union is also aiming for a 49% share of renewables in the energy consumption of buildings, with a gradual ‘green trajectory’ for both heating and air conditioning installation.

The legislation, passed with 470 votes (120 against, 40 abstentions), must now be formally approved by the Council of the European Union before coming into force.

Protest camps face strong arm of the law

The French government has set up an ‘anti-ZAD’ team, made up of five legal experts tasked with “accompanying” local authorities “in order to prevent the creation” of ZADs – zones à défendre (zones to be defended), which are protest camps set up to oppose large-scale development projects that protesters consider harmful for the environment or common good.

The anti-ZAD team will also advise on how to “ensure the dismantling” of these camps, which are seen by some as militant squats, with frequent violent outbreaks involving ‘zadistes’.

The creation of the task force was announced in April by Gérald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior, following the protests against the ‘mega-basins’, a water storage project, at Sainte-Soline (Deux-Sèvres), in October 2022.

Read more: What is a ZAD land zone and where are they in France?

Nice plans marine protection zone

A report on the creation of a marine protection zone encompassing the Nice section of the Baie des Anges on the Riviera has defined its boundaries as being between Pointe Madame (between Nice and Villefranche-sur-Mer) and the mouth of the Var.

Whilst plans for the zone are at consultation stage for now, Aurore Asso, the city councillor in charge of the project told France Bleu that “the mayor’s office would like to see the project completed in time for the major ocean conference in 2025, organised in partnership with Costa Rica.”

She warned, however, that “there’s a lot to take into account in an urban area like Nice. And whatever the level of protection of the zone, it will be restrictive.”

Related articles

Eco news: French town paints grass green, €10bn needed for forests

Why peanuts and pistachios are the future of French farming

French theme park collects urine to be used as biostimulant