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A convention to benefit the Mercantour and Alpi Marittime Parks


In the middle of the afternoon of Friday 19th September, H.S.H. Prince Albert II, Mr

Jean-Louis Borloo, Minister of State and Minister for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Planning and Development of the French Republic and Mrs Stefania Prestigiacomo, Minister for the Environment of the Italian Republic, presided over the ceremony for the signing of a convention in support of the Mercantour National Park and the Alpi Marittime Nature Park.

The convention was signed at the Ministry of State, in the presence of H.E. the Minister of State, on behalf of the Principality, by Mr Robert Calcagno, Government Counsellor for Facilities, Urban Planning and the Environment, on behalf of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, by H.E. Mr Bernard Fautrier, Vice President and CEO of the Foundation, for the Mercantour National Park by Mr Gaston Franco, President of the Board of Directors and Pierre Commenville, acting Director, and on behalf of the Alpi Marittime Nature Park by Mr. Gian Pietro Pepino, President, and Mrs Patrizia Rossi, Director.

The two parks, twinned since 1987, run many joint activities: this partnership agreement will enable four particularly ambitious projects to be developed for which the support of the Principality of Monaco and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation is fully justified given the related environmental implications.

Four projects over 3 years

The first project of this convention focuses on carrying out of one of the most ambitious systematic inventories of living beings in the world, since it plans to cover the entire territory of the two natural parks, that is to say nearly 2,450 km². The inventory will be carried out thanks to the support and involvement of international teams of scientists and local naturalists, some of who have extremely refined knowledge. The three main goals of this project are as follows: to describe as quickly as possible the entirety of the biodiversity of these areas (taking some 10 years instead of the 100 to 150 years necessary at cruising speed); to procure the means of monitoring the exceptional biodiversity of the massif over time, notably in the context of global warming; to ensure support for the scientific disciplines of the description of living beings in partnership with the National Natural History Museum of Paris: reviving vocations, material means, marketing these disciplines to ‘demystify’ them.

The second project aims to place the two parks on the World Heritage List; this exceptional cross-border territory is already on the indicative lists of the UNESCO, but its definitive entry would be an additional step both for the recognition of the exceptional nature in these areas and for their preservation.

The third project concerns the setting up of host sites for scientists and visitors to the parks with the aim of forging links between these two communities. Action will focus on the development of scientific tourism and the emergence of “science-citizen” initiatives enabling visitors and local communities to take part in scientific discoveries. These “meeting points”, where information, science and respectful tourism come together, will symbolise innovation for the promotion of knowledge-sharing, development and preservation of the environment in accordance with the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism (EuroParc) to which the two parks are affiliated.

The final aspect of the convention is aimed at promoting these three projects: the organisation of national and international events and conferences, the creation of information and marketing tools, and media coverage of this partnership to encourage the involvement of the general public for the good of the environment.

This partnership has the following goals:

- to improve knowledge and understanding of the evolution of biodiversity in this nature zone;

- to promote the exemplary management of the area’s biodiversity, particularly in terms of sustainable tourism;

- to encourage the sharing, on an international level, of the experience gained.

The Principality of Monaco and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation have committed 1,015,000 € worth of funding over a period of 3 years, whilst the Mercantour National Park and the Alpi Marittime Nature Park have committed 3,189,000 €.

The Mercantour National Park and the Parco Naturale Alpi Marittime

Created in 1979, the Mercantour National Park spreads across two departements, 28 communes, 68,500 hectares in the central zone and 136,500 hectares in the periphery zone. It has rare and exceptional natural and cultural characteristics in common with the Parco Naturale Alpi Marittime, notably due to the fact that the Argentera-Mercantour Massif that they share is directly next to the Mediterranean. This massif was artificially cut in two by a border in 1870 (accentuated in 1946 when the Roya Valley became part of France.) In order to preserve it, these two nature areas have been twinned since 1987 to encourage territorial continuity on all fronts. Their goal is to create, soon, the first international structure for the management of a protected area.