The Loire is France’s biggest river (over 1,000 km long, with a basin covering about a fifth of the country) and a major Western European example of how to keep and restore natural river dynamics and maintain and manage river floodplains and the related biodiversity.
Following big floods in the 1980s, and stemming from conflicts about new dam constructions, the authorities brought together different stakeholders (such as hydro-electricity producers, gravel and sand miners, farmers, fishermen, conservationists, tourism promoters) since the 1990s, to work on an integrated river basin management programme. The programme is now in its third operational phase (2007-2013) during which about 300 million Euros (co-financed by the European Union, the French national, regional and district governments) are available.
The main purposes of the programme are to:
1) assure sustainable living conditions in the regularly flooded plains of the Loire river and its affluents,
2) restore and maintain common goods such as the water resource, natural areas and biodiversity,
3) improve and promote the natural, cultural and landscape heritage for tourism and sustainable development, and
4) increase and disseminate the knowledge and appreciation of the river and floodplain ecosystem services.
Recently, the coordinating body has released a very captivating 13-minute film (in French) that illustrates in a lively way the common approach of these activities – Take a look at: http://www.plan-loire.fr/index.php?id=349.
Report by Tobias Salathé, Senior Advisor for Europe