The Conservatoire du Littoral’s approach to coastal management

When only the Conservatoire’s domain is involved, and the dykes belong to them, then the management policy for the dykes, their eventual reinforcement depends on the management objectives of the acquired natural areas and the possibility to help them evolve.

The interesting landscape of a site, its history and the activities that take place there can lead to very different solutions. The Conservatoire does not exclude any solution and, as a priority, seeks to follow the natural evolution of the places rather than trying to work against it and maintain the shoreline “no matter the cost”. It also seeks to give itself the time to arrive at a shared vision of the challenges and the possible development solutions.

To appreciate each situation the Conservatoire uses the following 3 analytical pointers:

  • Ecosystems: analyse the contributory gains and losses for the maritime area and also for the quality of terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Landscape and culture: take into account the local identity, the social acceptability of the projects and the time factor.
  • Economy: analyse the comparative costs for protection/relocation of the protected activities.

When the challenges are outside of their domain

When a dyke or a natural structure that serves as such (a dune for example), whether or not it belongs to the Conservatoire, protects other economic interests situated on areas that do not belong to it, the Conservatoire contacts the local authorities: the municipalities and the State. In these cases the Conservatoire cannot make a decision on its own. Once it has given its opinion, it is down to the State to define the rules and to decide if such and such a dyke should be reinforced, improved. However, it is not the employer, the financial backer, nor the “owner” of the created works and would not oppose decisions taken within the rules. This has happened in the past on several of the Conservatoire’s domains.

Where strategies that differ from those of the Conservatoire have been decided on its land, the littoral Conservatoire authorises and will authorise the implementation of sea defences when the State judges it to be of general interest, but it would not be obliged to implement or finance these to protect its own domain.