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How to improve mountain areas protection by recovering local species and plants

Since 2003, the “Conservatoire botanique des Pyrénées et de Midi-Pyrénées” (CBNPMP) has developed the Ecovars programme. This programme aims at protecting the mountains from erosion and to improve the local environment by replanting with local species all the areas in risk in the French Pyrenees.

 This initiative has been possible thanks to the union of different actors, such as: The CBNPMP, the “Institute national de la recherche agronomique” (INRA) and the authority in charge of the coordination of rural development in the Pyrenees (SUAIA-P). Each of these partners has shared its knowledge and has been responsible for one specific area of the project. The CBNPMP has contributed adding its expertise in nature conservation, the INRA has shared its expertise in genetics and social sciences and the SUAIA-P was the leader of the production of seeds. In addition, this project has also received the financial support from the European Union through the  European regional development fund (ERDF).

The Ecovars program appeared in 2003. Since then and until nowadays several projects have been developed under the programme. From 2005, open field multiplications were tested and genetic studies have been developed to integrate adaptive aspects of replanting species. At the end of the program, in 2007, several operators have become promoters of the approach, which gave birth to the Ecovars + programme.

 The Ecovars + program, focused on the transfer of expertise in replanting and seed multiplication. Under this second phase of the programme, 3 projects were implemented:

The multiplication of wild seeds (ARTEMIS), in partnership with the “Association d’insertion Estivade d’Aspe-Pyrénées” (2008 to 2012).
The development of a geographical information system for managing the environment and replanting ski areas in the municipality of “Communaté Ax Valleys” in Ariege, France (2008-2011).
In-situ collection of wild seeds by the ski stations of the n’Py group (2009-2012).

In 2012 and 2013, new projects have emerged. Three of the projects are focused on the development of seed production chains and a fourth in the development of a management system and cartographic planning for revegetation of ski resorts.

 As Gerard Largier, Director of the Conservatoire botanique des Pyrénées et de Midi-Pyrénées explains “ one of the main achievements of this project has been the creation of a network that involves researchers, administrators, ski station managers, local authorities, farmers, associations, schools etc. All of them have received information about the project and now they are aware about the importance of protecting and conserving the Pyrenees; nowadays, they all have this approach and many of them are developing their own projects connected to revegetating good practices”.

 Being an example of collaborative work involving all relevant mountain actors in the protection of the environment in mountain areas, Euromontana believes that this initiative could inspire other mountain areas in Europe.

 For more information, please visit the Ecovars project web site

5 May 2015

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