Closer collaboration enhances profile and operations of Franco-Italian Alpine parks

A collaborative strategy between French and Italian stakeholders in the Marrittime-Mercantour area has succeeded in creating a unique legal entity encompassing two parks on either side of the Alpine border. As part of the collaboration, efforts were made to boost sustainable tourism and develop new understandings and best practice concerning the area’s biodiversity.

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Park officials receiving training on grassland flora. © R. Charmetant/PNM Park officials receiving training on grassland flora. © R. Charmetant/PNM

" As a result of the project, the Marittime-Mercantour region is nowadays a unique territory characterised by a thorough level of administrative and environmental integration, which has made the physical and state border almost irrelevant to the eyes of the citizens and of the tourists. "

Project spokesperson, speaking at “Su e Giu per i Colli – Les Cols de Haut en Bas” (European Cooperation Day 2013

The PIT A4 project is part of a wider strategy for integrated territorial development of the Marrittime-Mercantour area that is rooted in a 20 year long collaboration between authorities in the two parks (one on each side of the border) which comprise the region. This specific stage of the collaboration focused on mapping the region’s conserved areas and farming lands, and promoting sustainable tourism.

Firstly, project funding was used to create a database of territorial geographic information, common to both sides of the border. This database comprised information on the region’s biodiversity and cultural heritage, and will be made available to all the region’s stakeholders including residents, tourists and researchers. In addition, priority was given to developing tools to better manage the parks’ agro-pastoral areas. Information was collected on current usages and characteristics of the land, which will be used to inform environmental protection and economic development initiatives in the area.

Secondly, authorities collaborated to monitor and analyse the evolution of tourist flows and recreational pursuits that have developed in recent years. The data compiled will be used to shape future initiatives to boost sustainable tourism to the region. Finally, the longstanding collaboration between authorities on both sides of the Alpine border was codified through the establishment of a European Grouping for Cooperation. This new legal entity comprising both parks will facilitate more complex joint-initiatives and the exchange of personnel and expertise.

UNESCO recognition

As a consequence of the creation of a new legal entity comprising both parks, the Marritime-Mercantour region has been able to apply to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, in recognition of its profound anthropological and environmental importance. Should its application be successful, the continued protection and preservation of the region will become a concern of the international World Heritage community as a whole.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Plan Intégré Tranfrontalier Marritime-Mercantour – Planification et gestion du territoire (PIT A4)” was EUR 1 559 995, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 1 039 087 from the Operational Programme “Italy-France Alps-ALCOTRA” for  the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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