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France: National parks

Parcs nationaux de France - PNF

Last modified: 2010-06-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: national parc | parcs nationaux de france | cevennes | port-cros | vanoise |
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[Flag of PNF]

Flag of PNF - Photo by Ivan Sache, 18 August 2009

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Presentation of Parcs nationaux de France

The organization, mission and rules of the French national parks are prescribed by the Law of 14 April 2006, which amends the original law that created the national parks in 1960. Each park is ran by a public agency; the park agencies are supervized by an umbrella body called Parcs Nationaux de France (PNF), affiliated to the Ministry in charge of Nature Conservation.
A national park is divided into a "core area" (cœur du parc), dedicated to the conservation of environment, animal and vegetal species, landscapes and cultural heritage (this last item was specifically added in the 2006 law), where strict, specific regulations apply and a "peripheric area" (aire d'adhésion), in which municipalities sign the chart of the park but are submitted to less strict regulations (allowing more human activity).
The national parks, located in areas with little permanent population, should not be confused with the 46 Regional Natural Parks (parcs naturels régionaux, PNR), located in inhabited areas and expected to contribute both to nature conservation and socio-economic development.

As of 2009, the nine French national parks are:
- Vanoise, founded on 6 July 1963 in the Department of Savoie (Northern Alps); core area, 53,000 ha; peripheric area, 145,000 ha; 32,000 permanent inhabitants;
- Port-Cros, founded on 14 December 1963, in and around the Hyères Islands, Department of Var (Mediterranean coast); core area, 2,000 ha, including 1,300 ha at sea; 38 permanent inhabitants; this is the oldest maritime natural park in Europe;
- Pyrénées, founded on 23 March 1967 in the Departments of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and Hautes-Pyrénées (Western and Central Pyrenees); core area, 45,700 ha; peripheric area, 206,300 ha; 40,000 permanent inhabitants;
- Cévennes, founded on 2 September 1970 in the Departments of Lozère, Gard and Ardèche (Southern Massif Central); core area, 91,268 ha; peripheric area, 230,110 ha; 41,600 permanent inhabitants;
- Écrins, founded on 27 March 1973 in the Departments of Hautes-Alpes and Isère (Central Alps); core area, 91,800 ha; peripheric area, 178,400 ha; 30,000 permanent inhabitants; originally founded in 1913 as Parc national de la Bérarde, increased in 1923-1924 as Parc national du Pelvoux;
- Mercantour, founded on 18 August 1979 in the Departments of Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (Southern Alps); core area, 68,500 ha; peripheric area, 146,000 ha; 17,000 permanent inhabitants; originally part of the Royal Hunting Reserve set up by King of Piedmont-Sardinia Vittorio- Emmanuel II, officially proposed by the General Council of Alpes-Maritimes on 20 November 1946;
- Guadeloupe, founded on 20 February 1989 in the Department of Guadeloupe (Caribbean Islands); core area, 17,300 ha; peripheric area, 16,200 ha; increase planned, including 130,800 ha at sea, matching the Biosphere Reserve registered by UNESCO in 1992; 272,000 permanent inhabitants in the planned area;
- Réunion, founded on 5 March 2007 in the Department of Réunion (Indian Ocean); core area, 105,447 ha; peripheric area, not defined yet; 800 permanent inhabitants;
- Guyane (Amazonian Park), founded in February 2007 in the Department of Guyane (South America); core area, 2.03 milloin ha; peripheric area, not definted yet, chart to be approved before 2012; c. 8,000 permanent inhabitants.
The creation of the Calanques park, in the Departments of Bouches-du-Rhône and Var (core zone, 12,500 ha on land and 82,000 ha at sea; peripheric zone, 34,000 ha on land and 194,000 ha at sea) is expected for 2010.

Source: PNF website

Flag of Parcs nationaux de France

The flag of PNF, as hoisted in front of its buildings (administration and visitor centers), is (more or less) square, blue with a thin vertical red stripe placed along the hoist. The spiral-shaped logo of PNF, in white, covers most of the flag area, slightly overlapping the red stripe. The name of the agency, in white letters, is placed above the logo.
The photo shown above was taken at the Castle of Florac (Lozère), the headquarters of the Cévennes National Park.

The graphic chart of PNF explains that the logo was designed by the GRAPUS workshop as the common symbol of all the French national parks, symbolizing the national institution in charge of the knowledge, respect and conservation of nature.
The logo is made of a vast number of slhouettes of animal, vegetal and mineral elements organized in a spiral pattern. The spiral is a metaphoric representation of the movement, richness and complexity of life. The logo should not be modified but may be scaled up or down, therefore increasing or decreasing the level of complexity perceived.
Each park has been assigned a bright colour reflecting its specificity and evoking the colours of its natural environment, contrasting with the black (generic) emblem).

Ivan Sache, 3 September 2009

Parc national des Cévennes

[Flag of Cevennes National Park]

Flag of the Cévennes National Park - Photo by Ivan Sache, 18 August 2009

The Cévennes National Park has its own flag, flown beside the PNF flag in front of the park's headquarters (Castle of Florac, Lozère) and also in front of the visitors' center of Le Pompidou (Lozére); the flag is made of the PNF logo in gold, the "colour" of the Cévennes park, placed on a white background (that is, the park's emblem countercoloured), without additional writing.
The photo shown above was taken atthe Castle of Florac.

I have not found the explanation of the gold colour. It probably alludes to the dry local summers and, maybe, to the mulberry, once widely grown in the Cévennes to "educate" silkworms and known as the "golden tree".

Ivan Sache, 3 September 2009

Parc National de Port-Cros

The Port-Cros National Park has a similar flag, with a light blue logo, as can be seen on photos published in Var-Matin, 29 October 2008 and 27 January 2009.

Ivan Sache, 3 September 2009

Parc National de la Vanoise

The Vanoise National Park has a similar flag, with a dark blue logo. The is hoisted together with the "generic" PNF flag, over the Marie-Christine fortress at Aussois, today a visitor's center managed by the Vanoise park. The fort is one of the five fortresses built by the King of Piedmont- Sardinia in the middle of the 19th century in the valley of Maurienne; aimed at protecting the kingdom from a French invasion, the forts were never involved in fightings since France and Piedmont-Sardinia set up an alliance against Austria a few years later. The five fortresses were decommissioned after the Second World War, three of them being purchased by the municipality of Aussois in the 1970s.