European Natura 2000 Award
The dramatic Natura 2000 site ‘Gorges du Tarn et de la Jonte’ in southern France hosts a wealth of threatened bird species, including griffon, black and Egyptian Vultures.
Since 2008, the Hunting Federation of Lozère has been promoting actions to support agro-pastoralism and tourism based on this rich wildlife. The Federation has engaged local farmers to maintain the open habitats through sheep grazing and shrub control and has set up feeding posts for the vultures. The latter offer farmers an economically advantageous way of disposing of livestock carcasses.
The vultures have also become a ‘made in Lozère’ trademark. There are now 600 operational accommodation facilities for tourists in the area and more than 30,000 people visited the Vulture Hause information centre last year, where one can also taste the local Vulture beer (La Feuve). This is a great example demonstrating that nature conservation and economic development go hand in hand .
Evan Martin and Bastien Mary Hunting Federation of Lozère expressed surprise and delight on the announcement of their win and agreed that it would be valuable in raising the profile of their work which has high potential to be implemented in other locations. Describing the socio-economic benefits emerging from the project, Mr. Martin said,
“A key benefit is the way the project has raised the profile of the region with tourists. The vulture has become a symbol for ecotourism in the area. Many people come to us to hike, they hire guides from the region to take them to the best places to see the vultures and to help them to spot other birds. The vultures have become incredibly popular with large numbers of people coming to see and photograph them.
We are very happy about receiving the prize. It is proof of our success in working with multiple different partners across various sites. We work with many different interests: farmers, hunters, conservationists. All of us have agreed to work together to protect biodiversity in the area!”
Mr. Mary agreed with his colleague’s remarks and added, “The recognition that we have received tonight justifies and validates the eight years of hard work from many different people that have gone into the project. I am sure it will give extra impetus to our efforts to ensure different interests come together to protect the environment in the future too”.