This week I had the pleasure of meeting representatives of INTO members the Conservatoire du Littoral at the National Trust HQ in London. Founded on 10th July 1975, the Conservatoire du Littoral is the French coastal protection agency whose mission is the permanent protection of natural spaces and landscapes on the coast or lakeshore, through acquisition, both in metropolitan France, the French overseas territories and worldwide. After the necessary restoration work, the land is handed over to communes, local authorities or associations, for them to manage within the spirit of the agreed guidelines, and now nearly 160,000 hectares are protected for ever.
The meeting was hosted by the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will be marking the anniversary of its Neptune Coastline Campaign next year (founded in 1965 and one of the inspirations behind the establishment of the Conservatoire ten years later). The National Trust and the Conservatoire du Littoral have been collaborating for many years and have participated in several EU-funded partnerships, including a Leonardo project that sought to enhance site-based practitioners’ skills, competencies and confidence in successfully managing nature reserves and other important sites in a changing climate. They are now looking at new ways of co-operating, alongside INTO, and exploring ways to celebrate their joint anniversaries in 2015.
With nearly forty years of specialist experience, the Conservatoire is committed to sharing its knowledge of land acquisition and management, and developing the capacity of coastal protection agencies across the world. Céline Damery is part of the team leading this work and is very interested in exchanging knowledge and methodologies via networks like Eurosite and through meetings, projects and training sessions with overseas groups.
I was particularly struck by the PIM initiative (Mediterranean Small Islands), an ambitious international programme for the promotion and assistance in management of the small islands of the Mediterranean Sea, which aims to establish an effective and practical management structure in small islands. We thought this could be of great interest to our INTO members as many are small island nations where natural resources can be particularly fragile so the importance of sustainable land management cannot be underestimated. Eco-tourism is a potential vehicle for integrating conservation and sustainable livelihoods in many island situations and the Conservatoire and the National Trust movement have considerable experience in managing tourism in a way that maximises benefits to local communities and biodiversity. It would be really interesting to share experience and expertise.
We also talked about potential collaboration regarding World Day on Island Biodiversity (22 May 2014), perhaps a blogathon similar to the one we ran on World Heritage Day last year; about how we might make connections with the new best practice label for sustainable island management which the Conservatoire is developing; and how their 2015 40th anniversary events might feed into the International Conference of National Trusts to be held in Cambridge. Exciting stuff.
Read an update on how the National Trust (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) is living with a dynamic, changing coast here amid the recent run of storms impacting the UK.