A landscaping face-lift for the Maison de la Nature

The Maison de la Nature, situated in the north of Martinique’s Regional Natural Park, presents and highlights the ecosystem of a tropical island, considered one of the world’s most important sites in terms of biodiversity.

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Improvements made to the surroundings by the Maison de la Nature project attract visitors to the area Improvements made to the surroundings by the Maison de la Nature project attract visitors to the area

Martinique’s Natural Park spans two thirds of the island and lies at the heart of a rural area blessed with magnificent scenery and a specific cultural heritage, namely due to the Creole identity. The aim of the Park’s management is to highlight the region’s specific ecosystems and the relations between man and the natural world. The Maison de la Nature, set in 2.5 hectares of land, is a tool for introducing and raising awareness of this objective.

This mission is divided into two projects. The first was the integration work camp co-funded by the European Social Fund which took place in 2011 and the second, an investment project to carry out restoration work, was planned under the European Regional Development Fund in September 2012.

Two integration workshops

The Maison de la Nature’s landscaping restoration project consists of two integration workshop/camps (ACI), which aim to transfer knowledge, relating to various types of work, to people who have social difficulties. In this case, with support from the European Social Fund, 30 places were available to acquire skills in landscape restoration work. The restoration work was carried out around the two main Maison de la Nature buildings, including a museum area and the reception and catering facilities.

Teaching and tourism

The improvements made to the surroundings of these buildings are a ‘bonus’ for a young audience and for those visiting the area. “This integration work camp enabled individuals to discover and embrace a new, very broad profession, which offers real opportunities. The high-quality work carried out in this setting, to restore the site and improve the welcome given to visitors enhance the richness and beauty of the site and are evidence of the skills that have been acquired” explained Sonia Hoche-Balustre, director of local development and training. “The expected benefits will centre on the use of the area which has been open to the public since 27 February 2011 and which offers both tourist activities and also teaching facilities for schools and other audiences”.

Raising environmental awareness

One of the Natural Park’s aims is research and education (scientific studies, economic development in rural areas, environmental education, raising awareness of the environment and biodiversity, training for careers in this industry). Every year, 5 000 students of all ages have the opportunity to study the island’s natural and cultural heritage (forest, vegetation, coastline, mangrove swamps, fauna, water shortages, Creole gardening, planting and restoration techniques etc).

Moreover, tourists will find better welcome facilities and will enjoy information on the island’s particular cultural and natural features and gain awareness of sustainable development challenges.

“Those involved in integration activities worked incredibly hard to restore and improve this site and to gain skills which will give them real opportunities to find work”.

Results and jobs

The integration work camp programme led to the creation of 15 jobs, five of which are direct, as well as to the improvement of the quality of a tourist destination. Participants were taught how to preserve the quality of soil whilst combating invasive species, and they also received professional and vocational training in environmental preservation techniques and in managing landscaping work.

New skills were acquired by highlighting new landscaping restoration techniques and improving cultural practices: plant wall decorated with non-living accessories, landscaping tiers, soil preservation and use of native species.

Many requests from the press came as a result of the work camp in order to publicise the new skills and the creations made from plant life. In addition, many businesses contacted the individuals who received the training to ask them to build similar creations on their work camps on an ad-hoc basis.

Total cost and EU involvement

The total cost of the project “Atelier Chantier d'Insertion Aménagement paysager de la Maison de la Nature” (Maison de la Nature landscape restoration workshop/camp) was EUR 288 749. The estimated total cost of the project “Aménagement paysager du site d'accueil de la Maison de la nature martiniquaise - Tranche II” (Martinique Maison de la Nature Reception landscape restoration – Phase II) is EUR 162 297. The European Union’s contribution is EUR 44 498 from the ESF and EUR 81 723 from the ERDF during the 2007-2013 period. The State provided financial aid of EUR 280 932 for the two projects.

Planned in December 2010, the integration work camp lasted one year. The new restoration project was planned in September 2012.

Draft date