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Tour du Valat Estate
Propriétés de la Tour du Valat

france

First Listed

2021

Area
26.00km2

Why is it Green Listed?

The Tour du Valat Estate covers a total area of 2649 ha in two different geographical areas located in the Camargue:
– The Tour du Valat Estate itself, near the village of Le Sambuc (city of Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône), covers 2548 ha, including 1845 ha listed as a regional nature reserve, 715 ha of agricultural parcels and buildings, the Verdier marshes (find out more), the Petit Badon Estate, and the Commanderie dunes;
– The Petit Saint-Jean Estate, situated in the part of the Camargue located in the Gard Department, covers 101 ha, and is about 30 kilometers further west, near the town of Saint-Laurent-d’Aigouze

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

Key Achievements

Conservation

  • • Natural values are in good state of conservation and the various evaluations show that the objectives have been achieved
  • The Fondation Tour du Valat can count on a strong scientific community and knowledge associated to the area and working at an international level

Good governance

  •  Various ways of management and decision making are put in place by the Fondation Tour du Valat. Almost all IUCN Governance categories are applied.
  • Local stakeholders and socio-professionals are involved in the site management. Some of those governance bodies and the overall articulation can be a source of inspiration for others.

Community benefits

  • Local cultural activities such as agricultural practices, cattle farming, saltworks or hunting are maintained in some parts of the Domain
  • Hydrological regulation is an important matter in the area and actions are specifically implemented in regards to the various activities concerned

Site Attributes

WDPA ID

Size
26.00km2

Designation(s)
Ramsar Site;UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve;Site of Community Importance (Habitats Directive);Special Protection Area (Birds Directive)

Marine Protected Area
No

Governance Type
Non-profit organisations

Site Agency
Région Sud-Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur

Site Manager
Fondation Tour du Valat

Application
2019-07-18

EAGL Evaluation
04/03/2020

GL Committee Submission
03/02/2021

EAGL Chair
Jean-Philippe SIBLET

ASI Reviewer
Mounia Essefiani

Site Summary

The Tour du Valat Estate covers a total area of 2649 ha in two different geographical areas located in the Camargue:
– The Tour du Valat Estate itself, near the village of Le Sambuc (city of Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône), covers 2548 ha, including 1845 ha listed as a regional nature reserve, 715 ha of agricultural parcels and buildings, the Verdier marshes (find out more), the Petit Badon Estate, and the Commanderie dunes;
– The Petit Saint-Jean Estate, situated in the part of the Camargue located in the Gard Department, covers 101 ha, and is about 30 kilometers further west, near the town of Saint-Laurent-d’Aigouze

NATURAL VALUES: Temporary ponds and marshes : the general idea is to have a wide diversity of sites with the necessary conditions to accommodate the processions of species characteristic of temporary Mediterranean pools. (Status indicators on odonata, amphibians and heritage plants): Monitoring of the presence of Lestes macrostigma, monitoring of the population of amphibians (tadpoles), monitoring of heritage plants Open standards methodology
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Monitoring of the presence of odonate population of Lestes macrostigma Monitoring of the presence of population of amphibians: species richness and specitic presence of pelodytes and treefrogs (tadpoles) Monitoring of heritage plants
Absence : Bad Low abundance : Fair Predominance of Lestes macrostigma : Good Hugh abundance : Very good Absence or very reduced population and diversity : bad Low diversity with low abundance of pelodytes and tree frogs : Fair High diversity and low abundance of pelodytes and tree frogs : Good High diversity and High abundance of pelodytes and tree frogs : Very good No ponds hosts heritage plants : Bad < 5 ponds host heritage plants : Fair 10 ponds host heritage plants : Good > 10 ponds host heritage plants : Very good
Lestes macrostigma: +30 emergence sites including 9 new ones. VERY GOOD Batrachians: 384 tadpoles captured (58 pelodyte and 326 tree frogs) on the 20 sites sampled. VERY GOOD Heritage plants: 70 out of 119 ponds have at least one heritage plant station. VERY GOOD
The trend is favorable with new regular breeding sites, some of which host very large populations. the weather conditions have not been very favorable over the past five years The trend is favorable with the regular discovery of new heritage species or new stations of plants already identified.
NATURAL VALUES: Grasslands, salt meadows, marshes (state indicators on habitat areas and European rabbit population)
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Habitat mapping of grasslands, rushes and salt marshes Habitat mapping of dry grasslands Counting rabbit population, thresholds were defined on the basis of monitoring by night counting (IKA)
grasslands, rushes and salt marshes represent more than 60% (1530ha of the domain) are functional and in good state of conservation : optimal 40 ha of grasslands : fair 144 ha of grassland : very good < 10 rabbits/km From 10 to 25 : Fair From 25 to 40 : Good > 40 : Very good
According to the last habitat map of the site (2018), the area of grasslands, rushes and salt marshes is 1350ha : OPTIMAL The area of “open” grasslands is still 40ha : FAIR rabbit population remains below the threshold of 10 rabbits / km. BAD
The surface area in the open (grasslands, rushes, salt marshes) is stable and has so far increased only slightly. A few operations to reopen the grasslands have been carried out, but they remain marginal for the moment. Despite a few spring bursts (regular observations in new areas of the site), the rabbit population remains stable below a very low threshold. Population reinforcement operations are planned (on-site breeding).
NATURAL VALUES: Waterbird communities (status indicators on the waterbird population)
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Monthly count of waterbirs Breeding tree herons Monitoring of European Bittern and Purple Heron Other species : Collared pratincole, Baillon's crake, etc
Bad : Very high declined of numbers of waterbirds Bad : No breeding Bad : No breeding of the two species The goal on this target is for the site to continue to support a wide variety of waterbirds in number. No quantitative threshold has been set, but we will instead look to see if the overall numbers (or abundance indices) are : collapsing / disappearing : bad decreasing : fair stable : good increasing : very good
In winter, the site hosts an average of 11,000 waterbirds. Over the year 2019, the cumulative monthly counts gives 82,149 waterbirds counted. GOOD Between 2015 and 2020, the site has hosted a colony each years. For example, there are 1024 pairs in 2015, 1045 pairs in 2017 and 1197 in 2018. VERY GOOD In 2020, the site welcomed 6 singers of Eurasian Bittern but no breeding Purple Heron. GOOD In 2020, there are 37 pairs of Collared pratincole. And we discovered 16 contacts of Baillon's crake. GOOD
Overall, the trends are stable, the site continues to support a wide diversity of waterbirds in impressive numbers. However, since 1979, an erosion of the numbers of Anatidae has been observed, explained by various factors The site continue to hosted regularly a big colony of tree herons. It presents a lot of good habitats. The numbers of bittern are fluctuating between 1 to 9 singers, depending of flooding reedbeds. The trend for the purple heron is more worrisome. Between 2009 to 2018, the site has hosted a colony each year (8 to 43 pairs). But in 2019 and 2020, there is no colony… the discovery of new species is very encouraging
NATURAL VALUES: Natural heritage of fluvial origin
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Monitoring of European turtle pond population : adult survival rate and population size
Bad : the two parameters declining
Actually, the population size of the two population monitoring are stable (or in sight increase). In 2020, the population size is estimated to 100 and 141 adults for the two site. The adult survival rate has not been actualised recently but the last revision are good. GOOD
The species maintains itself well on the site
ECOSYSTEM VALUES: Agricultural production (exclusively organic farming)
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Area and type of crops, yield, size of herds and grazing load.
The agricultural activities carried out on the site must above all be economically viable and compatible with the objectives of conservation of the adjacent habitats and species.
On the whole property grazes +450 cattle, 100 horses and 40 sheep. Grazing loads are always extensive or even very extensive. In 2018, the agricultural production on the site counts: 450 bales of hay and 300 bales of alfalfa, 1260 bottles of rosé wine, 5040 bottles of red wine.
The number of cattle grazing on the site is stable. Agricultural production is increasing due to the development of the agroecological project carried out on the Petit Saint Jean. Based on observations made, no significant impact is observed on the main natural values.
ECOSYSTEM VALUES: Maintenance and improvement of a responsible and transferable hunting activity (adaptable to other environments)
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Number of hunters, hunting tables, regulations, number of transfers
The hunting activity on the site continues, the objective of the hunting group is to show that it is possible in a protected natural area to practice a respectful and low impact hunting method
3 hunting groups are present on the site. The global table shows 360 pieces taken over the 2018/2019 season. 1/3 of the table are wild boars
The number of hunters and the table are rather decreasing. Good transfers with the elimination of the use of lead bullets for wild boar beatings.
CULTURAL VALUES: Public reception
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Monitoring the number of visitors Participatory management project of the Verdier marshes
No quantitative thresholds set, the idea is to welcome visitors (especially scientific, university or financial partners) to the site in a supervised manner and to continue a partnership established with a local association for visits to the general public. The goal here is to perpetuate the participatory management project in the Verdier marshes and to ensure that the management entrusted to a local association is ensured.
+1200 visitors in 2018. The managing association has 29 members
Stable attendance The number of members of the association is decreasing. The project continues, but relying on a small team of volunteers, which can make continuity fragile.

Conservation Summary

Outcome of EAGL Vote on Site
Consensus

EAGL Summary 
Pillar 1: Fair Governance The governance of the entire site is properly ensured by the various governance bodies set up by the Tour du Valat Foundation, which owns the entire area, and ensuring wide consultation with all stakeholders regarding the many sites managed within the Domain. The issue of governance at the Tour du Valat was considered very interesting in that the different types of protection and management of these overlapping spaces call for distinct modes of governance. Thus, the various governance bodies seem to cover the four IUCN governance categories (A, B, C and D). The seniority of the Foundation’s actions and the cooperation with the many socio-economic actors involved in the management of the various sites generates a strong local anchorage and contribute to the sustainability of these interactions. The EAGL considers that the Tour du Valat Estate has achieved all the standards of Pillar 1 of the Green List.

Pillar 2: Robust Planning All sites owned by the Tour du Valat are registered on the WDPA. However, the scope of the Domain as a whole does not appear to correspond to a specific IUCN management category, but rather to a myriad of categories based on the management objectives of each of the sites within. The Tour du Valat Estate was therefore considered by the EAGL as a preserved area or OECM (Other Effective Conservation Measures). To date, this is the only French applicant to the Green List pre-identified as such. As the Tour du Valat is an internationally renowned research Centre, the results of monitoring, studies and research benefit to the management of the various components of the site. For example, a comprehensive review is carried out during the revision of the management plan for the regional nature reserve, which allows the reorientation of management objectives for the next 5 years. The management plans for the various sites are well developed from a global diagnosis including natural, social, economic and climatic contexts. The Tour du Valat is developing programs on climate change impacts, but knowledge has not yet been integrated into management measures as such, and will be integrated with the renewal of the various management documents. Moreover, the site’s interactions with the many socio-economic players in the sector lead the manager to take into account the pressures and changes as soon as they are identified. The EAGL considers that the Tour du Valat Estate has achieved all the standards of Pillar 2 of the Green List.

Pillar 3: Effective Management The regional nature reserve is the subject of numerous scientific monitoring on natural habitats and populations and has a battery of operational and efficient status indicators. New follow-ups with indicators are being studied on parcels of economic activity. Combined with the monitoring of adjacent natural environments already carried out, this work is very interesting for the study and coherence of activities related to the various ecosystem services provided by the Domain (hydrological regulation, livestock, agriculture, saltworks, hunting, etc.) and conservation activities of the environments and target species. Two management experiences can be quite inspiring in this regard because integrating socio-economic and cultural contexts: the agroecological project of the Domaine du Petit-Saint-Jean and the participatory management of the Marais du Verdier. The Tour du Valat Foundation has a remarkable financial, human and technical resources. Threats are included and dealt with in the various management documents. The three site management plans are based on the so-called “Open Standards” methodology, ensuring the monitoring of management operations and the assessment of the state of conservation of the main values identified. Threats to the main values of the sites are well managed and adequate responses in relation to the actors of the territory are made, even if the emergence of potential imbalances (climate change, economic crises) can bring some difficulties to reconcile the various issues in the territory. The EAGL considers that the Tour du Valat Estate has achieved all the standards of Pillar 3 of the Green List.

Pillar 4: Successful Conservation Compliance with the Open Standards methodology has demonstrated the achievement of the various objectives in terms of natural values, ecosystem services and cultural values. Although some indicators are not yet established for each site regarding ecosystem services, the methodologies deployed on Petit-Saint-Jean may be adapted and replicated at other sites. Maintaining the many socio-economic activities on the site does not appear to compromise the objectives set by the various management plans for nature protection. Some components of the Domain aim to be exemplary in agroecological field in a region where agro-pastoral activities are predominant, while ensuring the preservation of the surrounding environments, the experience of the Tour du Valat in this area is quite new and inspiring for the network of the Green List.

The EAGL considers that the Tour du Valat Estate has achieved all the standards of Pillar 4 of the Green List. Decision Following the review of the application of the Tour du Valat Estate, 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 Tour du Valat Estate 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 Green Listing process of Le Domaine de la Tour du Valat is in compliance with the rules and procedures of the User Manual. A site visit took place after the visit schedule was approved by the Reviewer and included a visit of some of the sites of the Domaine de la Tour du Valat, as well as a consultation of relevant stakeholders. The visiting EAGL member reported to the EAGL on her visit during the EAGL meeting that was held on March 4, 2020. All needed information and documentation were shared with the EAGL members and the Reviewer prior to the EAGL meeting. The meeting, hosted by the Implementing Partner (IUCN French Committee), was attended remotely by the Site representative, their mentor and the Reviewer. During the meeting, the Site Representative and Mentor had the opportunity to present their arguments regarding the site performance level with regard to the Green List standard and its indicators, and to answer all questions from the EAGL. As for all French application processes, the Reviewer would like to highlight the efforts and time invested by the mentors to visit the site and to submit a report on the site. All MoV and site argumentation as well as the EAGL assessment outcomes and required documentation are well recorded in COMPASS (for confidentiality reasons, the site visit report will be made available to the Green List Committee through another platform). Based on their assessment, their discussion with the Site Representative and internal discussion, the EAGL decided to consider the “Domaine de la Tour du Valat” as a Conserved Area/OECM as per the IUCN definition, and after deliberation, voted unanimously for the Site nomination for the Green List. The “Domaine de la Tour du Valat” is thereby the first “OECM” (considered as such by the French EAGL) in the French jurisdiction to apply and to be nominated for the Green List. The Reviewer validates the Green List process of the “Domaine de la Tour du Valat” and submits the site to the Green List Committee for its final approval.

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