The 2030 French Biodiversity Strategy, presented at the end of November, sets out four key pillars, 40 measures and over 200 actions. It focuses on combatting the five pressures faced by biodiversity: the destruction and artificialisation of natural environments, over-exploitation of resources, climate change, pollution, and invasive exotic species. The strategy also aims to rehabilitate terrestrial and marine ecosystems and populations of endangered species through renaturing and resilience in the face of climate change. Here’s a breakdown.
Pillar 1: Reducing the pressures on biodiversity
The first pillar aims to reduce direct pressures and to support priority sectors in reducing their impacts. Reducing direct pressures will be achieved through limiting changes in land and sea use, or more specifically the destruction and artificialisation of environments, both of which contribute to the loss of landscapes and reduce the resilience of regions to extreme events (droughts, floods etc.). This includes improving the extent to which protected areas are safeguarded: 30% of French land and territorial waters, of which 10% are to be under strict protection by 2030, 100% of overseas coral reefs protected in 2025 and 65% of mangroves under conservation, 100% of Mediterranean Posidonia seagrass beds protected and 100% of glaciers under strict protection by 2030.
Further, the fight against the over-exploitation of species both in France and abroad will involve adaptive management for new species, and through the combating of imported impacts and species trafficking. Also, to reduce the impact of climate change on biodiversity, a number of measures are being taken in parallel with the SNBC (1) and ecological planning (e.g. agroecology, restoring forest sinks, combating artificialisation, increasing carbon sinks by 2050).
Another major pressure on biodiversity: pollution. Several goals have been set regarding pesticides (halving the use of phytosanitary products by 2030), light pollution (halving over the decade), plastics (removing the 94 reported coastal landfills by 2030 and 50% of coastal communities committing to the “plastic-free beaches” approach by 2025 and 100% by 2030) and undersea noise pollution, which affects numerous marine creatures.
To prevent and combat invasive exotic species – for which the IPBES has recently produced an alarming update(2) – 500 ‘blitz’ operations are planned to take place by 2025 and the rate of establishment of these species is to be reduced by at least 50% by 2030.
A further measure aims to intensify the fight against environmental damage caused by gold panning, deforestation or illegal fishing.
Finally, the new strategy proposes seven measures to support the priority sectors (agriculture, fishing, energy, construction etc.) in reducing their impacts.
Pillar 2: Restoring biodiversity wherever possible
The second pillar includes several measures dedicated to the restoration of key ecosystems such as soils, forests, wetlands or pastures, all in line with the new European Regulation on the restoration of nature and as precursor to its future implementation at national level.
A number of measures deal with the restoration of land and aquatic ecological continuity (green and blue corridors) with particular emphasis placed on reducing black spots by 2030, on the goal of bringing nature back into cities (renaturing and restoring permeability supported by the Green Fund, reinforcing the “Nature in the city” plan) and on other actions addressing extreme events including floods.
To strengthen the resilience of forest ecosystems, one billion trees of diverse species suitable for the future climate will be planted over the decade, and sustainable forest management will be adopted. Hedgerows will be fostered, in accordance with the recent pact promoting hedgerows, which aims to increase their numbers by 50,000 km by 2030.
In addition, 50,000 hectares of wetlands are to be restored by 2026. A range of actions to protect forest, agricultural and urban soils are to be deployed. Another new measure seeks to better understand the environment of permanent pastures, to more effectively restore them.
Finally, to reverse the decline of threatened iconic species – in particular endemic species abroad – twenty new national action programmes are to be defined, and the implementation of the National Plan “Pollinator insects and pollination” is to be pursued, as will the campaign against the snaring of dolphins, turtles and birds in fishing nets.
Pillar 3: Engaging all stakeholders
To successfully preserve and restore biodiversity, everyone involved has a role to play. Pillar 3 demonstrates this through several measures. In addition to making the State and public services lead by example, a specific measure aims to support the action of regional authorities. This comprises support for the training of local elected officials on the issues of biodiversity and climate (e.g. how to integrate these into urban planning documents) and the provision of tools such as an Atlas of Communal Biodiversity. Furthermore, a section on biodiversity must be systematically integrated into each new Recovery and Ecological Transition Contract (CRET).
A further measure is designed to help with corporate engagement. They must be able to identify their dependence on biodiversity and the impacts of their activities in order to reduce them as far as possible, especially as theCSRD (3) came into force on 1 January2023, thereby extending the obligation for transparency and non-financial reporting. ADEME (French Environment and Energy Management Agency) and Bpifrance offer support to SMEs in understanding their issues and the levers available to them to reduce their footprint. The OFB is pursuing the “Committed to Nature” initiative with the goal of signing-up 5,000 businesses by 2030. Meanwhile, at the end of November the Ministry launched “Roquelaure Entreprises et Biodiversité” (see box). In short, engaging all stakeholders also requires engaging the public,which will be achieved ultimately through education and awareness-raising.
Pillar 4: Guaranteeing the means to achieve these goals
The fourth pillar concerns the development and optimisation of knowledge of the data and issues surrounding biodiversity, the harnessing of public and private financing and the implementation of interministerial steering governance and accountability for the strategy, as well as the deployment of fine-tuning through key performance indicators compiled by the OFB and reported to the Secretary-General for ecological planning. The National Biodiversity Committee (NBC) is tasked with annual monitoring of the strategy.
More specifically on financing, a further €1 billion will be added to the budget in 2024 for water and biodiversity, of which €264 million is for the SNB, €300 million per year for the Brownfield Fund and €100 million per year for renaturing. Strengthening of the team is also planned, with 141 additional employees. Several of the measures outlined are regionalised, in particular those relating to protected areas and ecological restoration. Finally, a progressive exit plan must be defined for subsidies that are detrimental to biodiversity (the IUCN estimates such subsidies amount to €6 bn).
1) SNBC: Stratégie nationale Bas Carbone [National Low Carbon Strategy]
2) IPBES Invasive Alien Species Assessment, September 2023, https://www.ipbes.net/IASmediarelease
3) The CSRD (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, published in the OJEU of 16 December 2022) aims to harmonise the sustainability reporting of large companies and stock-exchange-listed SMEs. It will be brought in progressively.