Why is protection of riparian forests necessary?


Riparian forests are woodland that may be found on the banks of a waterway.

While riparian forest only form 1.6% of the Languedoc territory, compared to 51% for forests in general, they withstand a lot of pressure, including from forest exploitation.

A comparative analysis of satellite takes carried out within the Gardon River’s SAGE (Water Development and Management Scheme) confirmed a 10-ha-loss of riparian forest along the Gardon river between 2012 and 2016.

Clear-cutting for either the fuelwood production or papermaking is harmful for these already rare habitats, all the more so because their regeneration capacity is affected by the falling groundwater levels and earlier and dryer summers.

These forest aisles equally lead to a loss of functionality of the riparian forests, which form ecological corridors and hunting areas for many species, including chiropterans or even birds of prey.

Considering the rarity of these Mediterranean riparian forests and the practices they suffer from, it is therefore necessary to establish a protection tool which shall allow the conservation and regeneration of these key habitats.

What does the riparian forests protection action consist in?

  • Using the available information and complementary ground surveys, a riparian forest mapping shall be made for 200 km of waterways, along the Natura 2000 site of the Cèze River and its gorges, and the meeting point of the Rhône and Gardon River in the village of Ners.
    Meanwhile, an assessment of the riparian forests’ state of conservation shall be carried out.
    This prior work allows to identify the most common and most harmful damages for the riparian forests, indicate the perimeter to protect and state recommendations regarding the protective measures that should be established.
  • Using the conclusions of the preparatory study and with the help of the technical partners and local actors, the procedure for the implementation of a Cèze and Gardon Rivers riparian forests protection tool shall be launched. When it comes to statutory consultations and decision-taking, the prefect and the Gard Departmental Territories and Sea Authority (DDTM) shall both design the project and discuss it.

The project throughout time

  1. Step 01 - Spring to Summer 2022

    Riparian forests mapping and characterisation of issues along the Gardon River

  2. Step 02 - From Summer 2022 to Spring 2023

    Riparian forests mapping and characterisation of issues concerning the Cèze River

  3. Step 03 - 2023

    Building the case with the local partners

  4. Step 04 - 2024

    Allowed perusing

  5. Step 05 - 2025

    Decision taken by the Prefect and the State services