Seminar on France's Grand'Mare on the Seine, June 2006

Seminar on France's Grand'Mare on the Seine, June 2006

13 July 2006

Future management of the Seine meanders and estuary
Seminar Grand'Mare II

The Regional Nature Park Les Boucles de la Seine Normande hosted a seminar on the development and management of the Grand'Mare lake on the 28 June 2006. The Grand'Mare lies in the area of the Vernier marshes in an old meander and lowest curve of the Seine river before flowing into the English Channel.

Fourteen years after a first international seminar discussing the conservation and management problems of the Vernier marshes and peatlands, including the Grand'Mare lake, this event was organised to look at the results of the activities carried out over the intervening period and to discuss further steps for the future development of the site.

Different presentations reported about former and more recent developments in the area and the implementation of restoration measures, which focused on the restoration of the natural functioning of the water regime by dredging about 125,000 cubic meters of sediments. Besides this intervention, various monitoring activities of plant, animal and especially fish species were undertaken. Thanks to the funding opportunities for Natura 2000 sites, a number of agro-environmental measures could be undertaken. Further presentations and the afternoon's round-table discussion underlined the close cooperation of the Park with the national Game and Wildlife Management Agency (ONCFS), the local hunting organisation, and the regional Water Management Authority, the regional office of the Ministry of Environment (DIREN Haute-Normandie), as the political support received by members of the provincial parliament (Conseil Général de l'Eure) and the Prefecture of the Region.

Based on the recent restoration activities, the idea is now to move towards an international recognition, both as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention and as a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO MaB programme. The designation as Ramsar site with the wise use principle in the background suits very well the locally integrated approach, coordinated by the Regional Nature Park including several nature and hunting reserves. The next challenge will be the discussion of the future Ramsar site, the delineation of a coherent perimeter for it, hopefully according to its hydrological functioning, including a variety of wetland types, such as peatlands, marshes, floodplains, wet meadows, alluvial forests and the Seine estuary.

Some 80 participants from all sectors of the local population, representing land owners, politicians, hunters and farmers, as well as NGOs, environmental and water agencies were participating and contributing to the well organised event, which benefitted from the great venue at the border of the reedbeds and the Grand'Mare lake area.

Hopefully this will lead to the designation of one of the three large estuaries on France's Atlantic shore not yet listed for the Ramsar List. Currently, only part of the Somme estuary is listed as a Ramsar Site -- still missing are the estuaries of the Seine, Loire and Gironde.

-- text and photos by Dorothea August, Ramsar

view over the Grand'Mare lake

venue of the seminary at the bank of the lake

round table discussion ….

scientific fishing: identifying, measuring and taking samples of the species, to compare with last fishing before the restoration measures

Thierry Lecomte - head of the environmental department of the PNR "des Boucles de la Seine" and the key person for the development of the restoration and management projects; in the background the pasturing Scottish Highlands cattle

Norman race of cattle in the Vernier marshlands

traditional house with thatched roof and vegetable garden
rare oligotroph wet meadows with shallow water depressions support many threatened plant species, such as Orchis palustris, Drosera rotundifolia and Drosera intermedia or Triglochin palustre