MERCANTOUR (Roya Bévéra)
A special but fragile area >>>
The Mercantour National Park was established in 1979 in this long-recognised area of precious natural habitat.
As an alpine park close to the Mediterranean, this extremely original geographical location gives rise to a very varied landscape : rocky areas, glacial cirques and valleys strewn with deep blue or brilliant green lakes, vast high alpine pastures, thick forests, narrow valleys, picturesque gorges and crystal clear rapids / streams / torrents / waterfalls.
Since the 1960 act of parliament instating the National Park system, seven parks have been established: Vanoise, Port-Cros, Pyrenees, Cevennes, Ecrins, Mercantour and Guadeloupe.
This network of protected areas has lead to the increasing development of international exchange programmes, and in 1987 the Mercantour National Park was twinned with the Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime (formerly the Argentera), conferring a European dimension to the area. The managing bodies of the Mercantour National Park have been assigned several objectives:
- Nature conservation and the protection of landscapes and places of interest.
- Maintaining biodiversity in the areas governed by the Park.
- Rendering the Park's natural resources accessible to present-day visitors
and transmitting these resources to future generations.
- Helping to promote environmentally friendly behaviour which respects
the balance of nature.
- In seeking to achieve these aims, the Park has become a conservation area
of national importance.
Protecting and managing natural resources in the Core Are >>>
This area is governed by a specific set of regulations, which are enforced by park officers. They draw up inventories of plant and animal species and monitor their evolution over a period of several years. In 1963, there were estimated to be around thirty ibexes in the area. In 1998, more than 400 of these animals were counted, whilst the original population of 400 chamois had risen to around seven thousand.
Managing natural resources also means improving them. This is why the Mercantour National Park has undertaken ibex re-introduction programmes in the Var, Tinée and Ubaye valleys, and joined in the large-scale European project for the re-introduction of the bearded vulture.
A scientific committee co-ordinates the many research programmes required to increase our understanding of this habitat and to evaluate human impact in the area.
Increasing visitor awareness >>>
The National Park is a unique area, open to the public within the limits of park regulations. Nature trails and guided walks are organised as a means of discovering the many treasures of this protected environment. Exhibitions, film and slide shows and written publications also help to attract and inform the public. A programme of educational events has been developed specifically for schools, since one of the Park's main objectives is to increase awareness of the urgent need to conserve natural resources for ourselves and for future generations.
Conservation, communication, development >>>
National parks are inhabited areas, and their resources must be protected and managed accordingly. A National Park authority should be part of the local economy, through local area planning, activity development and the creation of a public image designed to encourage eco-friendly tourism.
A triumph for nature >>>
In 1993, the Alpi Marittime Park and the Mercantour National Park were awarded the European Environment Diploma. This diploma is awarded to internationally recognised natural areas in which nature conservation is particularly important due to their scientific, cultural or recreational value or their natural beauty.