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National Nature Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges
Réserves Naturelles Nationales du Haut-Giffre et des Aiguilles Rouges

First Listed

2021

Area
156.00km2

Why is it Green Listed?

The 5 national nature reserves located in alpine mountain ranges of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges form a group of exceptional natural habitats of 156.15km². From mountain forests to glaciars and snowy summits, those reserves are home to more than 800 species, whom a lot are protected in France and Europe.

We are very proud to integrate IUCN Green list with our mountain natural reserves. The certification process was a rewarding experience that put our practices into perspectives and improvement.

Asters, Conservatoire d'espaces naturels de Haute-Savoie

Key Achievements

Conservation

  • Major natural values in terms of habitats and species are in good condition
  • The CEN Haute-Savoie is leading scientific monitoring to evaluate effects of climate change on high mountain areas, in particular on mountain lakes

Good governance

  • Local residents, stakeholders and various actors are involved in those reserves management to find the right balance between very diverse activities and conservation
  • 3 of the 5 reserves have one common advisory committee to facilitate the whole entity coordination

Community benefits

  • Agricultural practices (high mountain pastures) are maintained and studied to identify and promote best practices and guarantee compatibility with conservation issues
  • Touristic activities beneficiates to a large range of socio-economic actors

We are glad that efficient management and good state of conservation of 7 new French sites have been recognized by the Green List Program! I have no doubt they will constitute inspirational sources and new references for future applicants. Diversity and richness of habitats, species, governance systems and protection status of French Continental and Overseas territories are now well represented by those 22 Greenlisted sites. They will very soon be engaged in the creation of the Francophone Green List network and globally contribute to the international influence of the Green List.

Attaché emeritus of the French Natural Museum of Natural History and EAGL Chair France, Jean-Philippe SIBLET

Site Attributes


Size
156.00km2

Designation(s)
National Nature Reserve

IUCN Category
IV - Habitat/Species Management Area

Year Established
1974

Marine Protected Area
No

Governance Type
Collaborative governance

Site Agency
DREAL Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes

Site Manager
Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels de Haute-Savoie

Application
10.09.2019

EAGL Evaluation
03/03/2020

GL Committee Submission
03/02/2021

EAGL Chair
Jean-Philippe SIBLET

ASI Reviewer
Mounia Essefiani

Site Summary

The Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges reserves application is a multisite application gathering the Vallon de Bérard, Passy, Sixt-Passy, Aiguilles-Rouges and Carlaveyron National Nature Reserves. Those five nature reserves located in the Alpin massifs of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges form a set of exceptional natural environments of 156,15 km². From mountain forests to glaciers and snow-capped peaks, these reserves are home to more than 800 species, many of which are protected in France and Europe.

This ecological richness combines a historical human occupation and a diversity of activities. Municipalities, alpine pastures managers, hydroelectric operators, shelter keepers, foresters, hunters, hikers, mountaineers are all actors of this territory.

An operation « Grand Site de France » is being applied on Sixt-Fer-A-Cheval, attesting to the immense
attractiveness of this territory.

The 5 Naure Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges are :
1) RN Sixt-Passy
2) RN Passy
3) RN Carlaveyron
4) RN Aiguilles Rouges
5) RN Vallon de Bérard

NATURAL VALUES: Habitats: 8 follow-ups / studies
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Study of the degree of maturity of forests, and his evolution Inventory and mapping of wetlands. evolution of the surface and their state of conservation
84 plots to monitore. maturity degree >0.5 for: >35 plots: desirable, 30-35 plots: acceptable, <30 plots : undesirable Surface area of wetlands: Net loss of wetland surface: not acceptable Stability of wetland surface : acceptable Increase of the known wetlands: desirable State of conservation: <50% of wetlands in good state of conservation: undesirable 50% to 75% of wetlands in good state of conservation: acceptable >75% of wetlands in good state of conservation: desirable 100% of wetlands in good state: optimal
2020 : 36/84 plots with a maturity degree >0.5 = DESIRABLE Surface area of wetlands: A net loss of the wetland surface in the territory would show a proven destruction, without any compensation. An increase of the wetland surface in the territory results from the absence of destruction and from an improvement in knowledge (additional inventories allowing the identification of new wetlands not listed to date) ACCEPTABLE State of conservation: The state of conservation of a wetland depends on many metrics : optimal hydrological processes, absence of external pressures (artificialization, impacting practices or uses), good ecological state of the environments, preservation of ecological corridors, … A good state of conservation therefore translates into good functionality (hydrolic and ecological) of the wetlands. This state of conservation can be estimated by expert opinion or by the use of protocols (such as RhoMeo toolbox) which make it possible to account for trends in environmental changes. 5.7 ha of wetlands with 50 to 75 % in good state of conservation. ACCEPTABLE.
Forest habitats are generally in a good state of conservation. The high altitude wetlands are mostly in a good state of conservation. On some sectors, they are slightly damaged because of human pressure, so it will be important to channel people more efficiently in the future (some projects are tackling this issue, for instance on some path of Aiguilles Rouges, Sixt-Fer-à-CHeval / Passy and Passy natural reserves). It will also be important to observe how they are going to evolve with climate change, particularly accurate in high altitude ranges.
NATURAL VALUES: Habitats: 8 follow-ups / studies
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
4 Altitude lakes monitoring (Anterne, Brévent, Cornu, Pormenaz) : changes in various parameters (O2, T °, phytoplankton, etc.) Glacier surface evolution (estimation of surface loss)
Eutrophication: DCE N and P thresholds according to the depth of the lake. Temperature: - Duration of lake freeze-up equal or superior than 6 months in the year : optimal - Duration of lake freeze-up less than 6 months in the year : undesirable. - Duration of lake freeze-up less than 5 months : critical. At decadal timescale: Loss of less than 10% : good Loss of 10 to 20% : acceptable Loss of 20 % or more : undesirable
Lac du Brévent is richer in nutrients; studies on phytoplankton and zooplankton on this same lake show a low diversity of species and the presence of species indicative of an enriched environment. The indicators on the other lakes are all positive. OPTIMAL Loss of glacier surface over the last decade: Ruan (39%), Prazon (22%), Beugeant (19%), Mort (8%), Berard (32%) and Anneuley (18%) = mostly UNDESIRABLE
The lakes are oligotrophic. Studies to understand the origin of trajectory changes in some lakes are underway. Because of their very low altitude, these glaciers are in a poor state of conservation and are rapidly shrinking in the face of global warming. Unfortunately, their decline is expected to continue over the next decades, generating the extinction of most of these very small glaciers
NATURAL VALUES: Bearded vultures
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
evaluation of population trends and reproduction success: spotting new nests / monitoring reproduction / identification of sources of disturbance and causes of mortality / analysis of movements (banding and positioning of GPS beacons on young vulture of the year).
2 couples occupy this area since 2001 and 2016. Maintaining 2 pairs in this area : optimum Loss of 1 pair : undesirable Loss of all pairs in this area : critical
2 pairs nesting + 1 one young fledged in2019 = optimum in this area
Vulture population on RN 74 is in a good state of conservation, reproductive success is fairly constant.
NATURAL VALUES: Golden eagles
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
areas occupied and reproduction success
100% occupation of each favorable and known nesting area in this sector : optimum state of conservation 80%
4 young eagles for 3 areas occupied in 2019 = optimum for this area
Occupation of nesting areas is good. Yet, the breeding success of the Golden Eagle seen in changing from one year to another. 2019 is really encouraging, unlike in 2018.
NATURAL VALUES: Ibex
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Trend monitoring of population nucleus (Index population size - IPS) and demographic analysis on Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval / Passy natural reserve by capture and tagging of ibex (evaluation of the survival rate). Study of all marked ibex, health analysis of the population by biological sampling
IPS : - Stable or increasing = optimal - decreasing = undesirable Health analysis : 100% health analysis are good : optimal >75% of health analysis are good : acceptable < 50% of health analysi are good : undesirable Less than 30% : critical
IPS results - figure not significant at the scale of an IPS, must be analyzed over several more years (6ans) Health monitoring = optimal
AS the IPS protocole started recently, no conclusions can be taken. The results must be analysed during the next management plan of these natural reserves.
NATURAL VALUES: Rock ptarmigan
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
trend assessment of numbers by song counting and reproduction by counting using dogs
If trend in a 10 years time scale: remains stable --> good decrease less than 10% of stocks --> acceptable decrease more than 10% of stocks --> undesirable
Stock's trend is descreasing less than 10% --> Acceptable
The reproduction rate of the Rock Ptarmigan is relatively good in the Sixt- Fer-à-Cheval / Passy sector but quite alarming at the alps scale. Since this specie is really sensitive to global warming, maintaining stock is in itself a good result
NATURAL VALUES: Blackgrouse
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
trend assessment of numbers by song counting and reproduction by counting using dogs, habitat restoration
If trend in a 10 years time scale: remains stable --> good decrease less than 10% of stocks --> acceptable decrease more than 10% of stocks --> undesirable
song counts in 14 sectors> 41 roosters and 6 hens / dog count in 2 sectors> 3 broods and 5 young. The population is relatively stable --> good.
The protocol was revised in 2016 and significant time is needed to assess trends in numbers. To protect resting areas during winter, various areas have been chosen recently and will be materialized in 2022 to lower impact on the specie during winter (ski touring).
ECOSYSTEM SERVICE VALUES:Alpine pastures
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
- Types of mountain pastures, analysis of farms. -Evolution of grazing pressure
7 mountain pastures studied Variable pressure depending on the mountain pastures
- Types of mountain pastures, analysis of farms. -Evolution of grazing pressure
Important differences between the pastures: some have low pressure, others more important. Natural return of Canis Lupus since 2019 is an important source of changes for pastoral habits and must be monitored and accompanied in the future
ECOSYSTEM SERVICE VALUES: Water resource (glacier, lakes and streams)
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
monitoring of these environments
See habitat monitoring for glaciers and lakes, Implementation of a fishery resource management plan and a wetland management manual
see habitat monitoring for glaciers and lakes
see habitat monitoring for glaciers and lakes
CULTURAL VALUES: Public awareness
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Evolution of participation in activities, scientific conferences, events and number of activities each year
Increase in participation in events for 5 years. Overall number of events on the rise
Overall increase in participation in activities over the past 5 years. Overall number of events on the rise. Better participation, due to better communication and public interest
CULTURAL VALUES: Tourism
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
-Monitoring of attendance in the natural reserve -Study on the evolution of recreational uses and cohabitation with wildlife
- Evolution of uses and attendance in strategic sectors, in particular by analysing various eco-meter readings. -Sociological profile of practitioners, analysis of their vision of disturbance of wildlife. Analysis of sports development projects, harmonization of sports activities with conservation objectives
- Increase in summer attendance observed over the past 5 years. -4 profiles of trained practitioners, cognitive dissonance observed
High traffic but mostly channelled on the trails in summer. Night activities and presence are increasing and shall be surveyed next years. Practitioners are not always aware of disturbing wildlife. Highly important cultural ecosystem service (wellbeing, healing, recreational practices).

Conservation Summary

Outcome of EAGL Vote on Site
Consensus

EAGL Summary
Pillar 1: Fair Governance The Conservatoire des Espaces Naturels de Haute-Savoie (ASTERS), manager of those 6 National Natures Reserves is responsible for the organisation of the 4 advisory committees, gathering multiple stakeholders (3 reserves among the Aiguilles Rouges Massif have one common advisory committee: Aiguilles Rouges, Carlaveyron and Vallon de Bérard). ASTERS is an association established for more than 40 years in the region; therefore, local officials, socio-professionals and various users of the sites know their representative well. The Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval-Passy National Nature Reserve had been undergoing a process of declassification and reclassification of the National Nature Reserve status for almost 20 years. The new ministerial decree was signed in January 2020 and this procedure is now finalized. This work was the subject of a public inquiry, so the consultation process was largely carried out and contributed to the easing of previously persistent tensions. The EAGL considers that the National Nature Reserve of the Contamines-Montjoie and the 5 National Nature Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges have achieved all the standards of Pillar 1 of the Green List.

Pillar 2: Robust Planning A management plan exists for each of the 6 nature reserves (sometimes long-standing as for Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval-Passy, which has had one since at least 2001). The overlaying of protective devices and the coordination of management objectives (Natural Reserve Management Plan and DOCOB Natura 2000) ensure reasoned, planned and effective management of these sites. Reading the management plans and planning documents or objectives provided by the nature reserves manager shows that what is considered regulatory, socio-cultural and support services are taken into account. Future management plans will therefore be discussed to incorporate the normative framework to address the issues in this area. The manager is also involved in a Eueropean Interreg Alpine Space Alpbionet 2030 project, bringing together 6 Alpine countries and focusing specifically on international cooperation efforts to achieve a level of ecological connectivity. Finally, the manager is fully informed of the threats to the 6 sites concerned and is actively working with the Scientific Council to continue the scientific investigation work necessary to effectively manage threats, pressures and influencing factors. The procedure for declassification/reclassification of the Sixt-Fer-à-Cheval-Passy reserve, for example, had the effect of better identifying alertness points and improving planning and management actions. The EAGL considers that the National Nature Reserve of the Contamines-Montjoie and the 5 National Nature Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges have achieved all the standards of Pillar 2 of the Green List.

Pillar 3: Effective Management Threats to the main values of the sites are well managed and adequate responses in connection with the stakeholders of the territory are provided. Threats related to global change are identified, in fact, ASTERS is positioned on all regional climate change observation and monitoring networks and is a pioneer in this area. Work is underway to integrate their treatment more systemically into nature reserve management documents. The management association has the human, technical, financial and infrastructure resources adapted to the implementation of the actions provided by the management plans. The local anchorage is observable as such by the provision of certain municipal premises for the management team as part of the development of the management work carried out on the Contamines-Montjoie National Nature Reserve. The new management plan methodology (dashboards) is being implemented on 4 of the 6 nature reserves (currently in place in the remaining 2 reserves). Relevant indicators are therefore adapted to the monitoring of the natural, cultural and ecosystem services implemented. The EAGL considers that the National Nature Reserve of the Contamines-Montjoie and the 5 National Nature Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges have achieved all the standards of Pillar 3 of the Green List.

Pillar 4: Successful Conservation Considering the implementation of the new methodology of management plans over a 10-year period, providing the implementation of appropriate indicators, the manager is in the ability to measure the success of the conservation of the main values of the 6 nature reserves. This assessment deserves the implementation or adaptation of indicators relating to ecosystem services, which are however actions already in place through the social issues of local integration, appropriation, communication or dissemination, but also environmental, in view of the work carried out on alpine pastures, high-altitude lakes, ancient forests, heathlands and glaciers. In addition, the data collected benefit from a seniority that can reveal clear and robust trends in the state of ecosystems. The measures put in place by ASTERS to achieve this pillar of the Green List are quite exemplary and inspiring. The EAGL considers that the National Nature Reserve of the Contamines-Montjoie and the 5 National Nature Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges have achieved all the standards of Pillar 4 of the Green List. Decision Following the review of the application of the the National Nature Reserve of the Contamines-Montjoie and National Nature Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges, the EAGL welcomed the remarkable efforts of the team of managers for the conservation of the values of the site and underlined the quality and completeness of the file.

On the basis of these elements, the EAGL voted unanimously in favour of the inscription of the National Nature Reserve of the Contamines-Montjoie and National Nature Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges on the protected areas green list. The site’s visit report is available on another platform for the reviewer and Committee anytime.

Reviewer Summary
The Reviewer confirms that the process was conducted in line with the User Manual’s rules and procedures. The Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges were assessed, visited and discussed by the EAGL together with the process of site S-0278 (Réserve naturelle nationale des Contamines-Montjoie) since they are managed by the same structure and with most of the same stakeholders being the same. A site visit took place on February 23 and 24 and a further meeting on January 30. The site visit schedule was approved by the Reviewer prior to the visit after some clarification was requested from and given by the visiting EAGL member. The EAGL discussion on the candidate took place on March 3 in the presence of the Implementing partner, the site manager and the mentor. The reviewer attended part of this discussion remotely and was provided with the recording of the whole meeting. The Sites’ Manager showed a very high understanding of the GL Standard, and presented a clear and transparent self-assessment against all indicators with a continuous improvement approach. This presentation was then followed by a detailed feedback on the site visit and EAGL deliberation and vote (in the absence of the site manager and mentor). As for all candidates, all relevant documentation, including the site visit report were shared with all EAGL members and the Reviewer prior to the EAGL meeting. The Reviewer would like to particularly mention the high quality of the site visit reports produced by the French EAGL members and the time invested in their assessments (this applies to all the processes discussed during the EAGL meeting on March 3 and 4, 2020). For confidentiality reasons, the site visit report was not uploaded onto COMPASS but will be made available to the GL committee prior to their meeting. All other information and documents are available in COMPASS. The EAGL voted unanimously for the nomination of the candidate, without conditions.

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