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National Nature Reserve Contamines-Montjoie
Réserve naturelle nationale des Contamines-Montjoie

france

First Listed

2021

Area
55.00km2

Why is it Green Listed?

Highest natural reserve in France, the natural reserve of Les Contamines-Montjoie from the village to be up to the Aiguille Tré la Tête, its highest point at 3892 meters. It covers 5500 ha and disclaims all floors of the mountain nature, forests, high meadows, bogs, scree areas, glaciers … that each contains a specific fauna.

More than 270 species recorded including over 90 species of birds
More than 660 endemic plant species including 56 of the Alps with more than thirty rare and / or protected.

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

  • Natural and cultural values are in a very satisfying state
  • The site is part of an network called “Sentinel lakes” : observatory project that is studying impacts of global changes on mountain lakes and high mountain habitats in general

Good governance

  • Good and sustainable partnership between municipality and inter-municipality with the manager
  • Good governance is guaranteed by Natural Reserve and Natura 2000 legislations, a large range of stakeholders are involved. There is a good articulation and complementarity between actions  planned by both management documents.

Community benefits

  • Traditional practices are maintained such as alpine pastures
  • The reserve is supporting the municipality for the development of sustainable touristic and outdoor activities, compatible with conservation goals

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

WDPA ID

Size
55.00km2

Designation(s)
National Nature Reserve

IUCN Category
IV - Habitat/Species Management Area

Year Established
1979

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

Highest natural reserve in France, the natural reserve of Les Contamines-Montjoie from the village to be up to the Aiguille Tré la Tête, its highest point at 3892 meters. It covers 5500 ha and disclaims all floors of the mountain nature, forests, high meadows, bogs, scree areas, glaciers … that each contains a specific fauna.

More than 270 species recorded including over 90 species of birds More than 660 endemic plant species including 56 of the Alps with more than thirty rare and / or protected. To this ecological wealth mingle historical human occupation and a variety of activities. Town, mountain farmers, hydroelectric operator guards shelters, foresters, hunters, hikers, climbers are all actors of the territory. More than 130 km of trails wind through the nature reserve, including the legendary Tour du Mont Blanc, and offer hikers an invitation to contemplate unique landscapes. 4 shelters also open their doors from April to October.

Thus more than 100,000 people visit the nature reserve in summer, illustrating the tourist and educational interest of a protected area model in managing adequacy traffic flow with the preservation of the territory.

NATURAL VALUES: Habitats: 5 followups / studies, including (1/2)
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Study of the degree of maturity of forests and its evolution Inventory and mapping of wetlands. evolution of the surface and their state of conservation
47 plots to monitor. Maturity degree (mean on the plot) >0.45 for: >25 plots: desirable, 20-25 plots: acceptable, <20 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 : 27/47 plots with a mean maturity degree >0.45. OPTIMAL. 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 the path to Le Col du Bonhomme). 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: 5 followups / studies, including (2/2)
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
1 Altitude lake monitoring, the Lake Jovet : changes in various parameters (O2, T °, phytoplankton, etc.) Monitoring of the evolution of the Tré la Tête glacier : estimation of volume loss by mass balance (glaciological method)
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. Mass balance annual value : Loss of less than 0,5 metre water equivalent (m.w.e): good Loss of 0,5 to 1 m w.e. : acceptable Loss of 1 m w.e. or more : undesirable
Lake Jovet: 7.5 ha surface, 8 m deep. The reverse stratification period lasts approximately 211 days. At the end of June, the surface temperature increases (Tmax of 12.6 ° C), and the summer stratification takes place. The euphotic zone extends over the entire water column of the lake, with a sufficient concentration of dissolved oxygen. The lake does not reach the stage of hypoxia. OPTIMAL. 2018: -1.12 m.w.e. 2019: -1.39 m.w.e. 2020: -1.33 m.w.e. UNDESIRABLE.
The lakes are oligotrophic. Studies to understand the origin of trajectory changes in some lakes are underway. The glacier is in a poor state of conservation, like other alpine glaciers. Tré la Tête is the 4th largest glacier in France. It lost more than 10% of its volume over the last five years.
NATURAL VALUES: Species: 12 follow-ups. 2019 data unless otherwise specified
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Monitoring of the bearded vulture and the golden eagle : 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). Ibex tracking : Capture of ibex for GPS beacon station: determination of ecological corridors / Study of all marked ibex, health analysis of the population by biological sampling Rock ptarmigan : trend assessment of numbers by song counting and reproduction by counting using dogs, habitat restoration Blackgrouse : trend assessment of numbers by song counting and reproduction by counting using dogs, and winter habitat protection
Eagles : <2 individuals : undesirable >2 individuals : desirable Bearded vultures : <2 individuals : undesirable >2 individuals : desirable 100% health analysis are good : optimal >75% of health analysis are good : acceptable < 50% of health analysis are good : undesirable Less than 30% : critical 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 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
Eagles 2019: 1 young eagle 1 area occupied. Bearded vultures 2020: installation observed near the limit of the reserve DESIRABLE. Contamines GPS ibex: 13 individuals equipped, all health analyzes were found to be good. OPTIMAL. Ptarmigan 2018: 50 adults and no juveniles ; 2019: 42 adults and 6 juveniles i.e. 0,08 young/adult, 2020: 60 adults and 3 juveniles i.e. 0.05 young / adult. The low numbers of juveniles spotted is alarming Exact trend unknown but leads probably to an UNDESIRABLE result. Black grouse : 1 sector restored in 2018; the trend in a 10 years time scale seems stable. DESIRABLE
Population of bearded vultures on the RN 74 is in a good state of conservation, breeding success is fairly constant. The breeding success of the Golden Eagle seen in 2019 is encouraging. The analysis of movements made it possible to define living areas and ecological corridors. Monitoring of the Rock Ptarmigan over the past few years indicates a low reproduction rate in the area. Climate change (this specie is specific to glaciel and high mountain environments) and human pressures may contribute to this preoccupying trend. The monitoring results are dependent on conditions, especially climatic.
ECOSYSTEM SERVICE VALUES
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
Monitoring of pastoral practices (number of animals, duration of presence) : Evolution of grazing pressure
>50% of pastures submitted to high grazing pressure : undesirable <25% of pastures submitted to high grazing pressure : desirable 0% of pastures submitted to high grazing pressure : optimal
ACCEPTABLE
Variable pressure depending on the mountain pastures. 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
Water resource (glacier, lakes and wetlands) : monitoring of these environments of interest + habitat monitoring for glaciers and lakes, and a wetland management manual
See habitat monitoring for glaciers and lakes
see habitat monitoring for glaciers and lakes
see habitat monitoring for glaciers and lakes
CULTURAL VALUES: Tourism: 4 followups / studies, including
MONITORING OF VALUES
THRESHOLDS OF SUCCESS
CONDITION OF VALUES
SUMMARY OF TRENDS AND RESULTS
-Monitoring of attendance in the natural reserve -Monitoring of quiet areas in connection with the practice of ski touring.
- Evolution of uses and attendance in strategic sectors, in particular by analysing 3 eco-meter readings. - Analysis of development projects for sports practices, harmonization of sports practices with conservation objectives.
Very high summer attendance, with a wide variety of uses (tour of Mont-Blanc, bivouacs, family outings, trails, mountain biking). Some trends can be identified with more and more different practices observed in the reserve. There is also an important increase in the winter attendance because of the appeal of ski hiking).
High traffic but channelled on the trails in summer for hiking. Certain uses are developing considerably. Highly important cultural ecosystem service (wellbeing, healing, recreational practices).
Public awareness
Monitoring of participation in activities, scientific conferences, events and the number of activities. Monitoring of the number of visitors to the Espace Nature au Sommet - the Maison de la Réserve.
Increase in the number of events proposed and the overall participation (apart from 2020 because of the sanitory context). In 2019, 152 events were organized, raising awareness of 3,062 people, plus the 1,009 visitors who visited the Espace Nature au Sommet.
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

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 sites’s visit report is available on another platform for the reviewer and Committee anytime.

Reviewer Summary

The Reviewer confirms that this process was conducted in line with the User Manual’s rules and procedures and submits the Site to the GL Committee for their final decision. The Réserve naturelle nationale des Contamines-Montjoie was assessed, visited and discussed by the EAGL jointly with the process of site S-0279 (Reserves of Haut-Giffre and Aiguilles Rouges) since they are managed by the same structure and with most of the same stakeholders being the same. A combined 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 with a clarification request regarding the actual site visit. Due to the weather conditions, only one site (under S-0279) could be visited and the actual site of the Reserve of Contamines-Montjoie was not accessible. Given that a site visit was organised, all relevant stakeholders and parties either met or later contacted by the EAGL member assessing this site, and given the high level of the EAGL member’s assessment and report, the Reviewer leaves it to the GL Committee to decide on the relevance of an onsite visit of the Reserve itself. The EAGL discussion on the site took place on March 3 in the presence of the Implementing partner, the site manager and the mentor. The Reviewer attended part of it 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 GL indicators with a continuous improvement approach. The EAGL member assessing the site gave a detailed feedback on the site visit, which was followed by the EAGL discussion. All presentations, stakeholder surveys and the site visit report were shared with all EAGL members and the Reviewer prior to the meeting. 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, including MoV are available in COMPASS. The
EAGL voted unanimously for the nomination of the candidate, without conditions.

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