Reference territories for conservation
France’s first national nature reserve (Luitel lake NNR) was established in 1961 in the Rhône-Alpes region. In June 2018, France had 167 national nature reserves that covered a total area of 67,683,816 hectares, of which 178,000 hectares are spread over the entire metropolitan area and 67,500,000 hectares are located overseas.
However, the areas covered by nature reserves are very variable. The smallest one is the Toarcien geological NNR, which preserves two old open quarries on an area of 0.61 hectares (Deux-Sèvres department). In contrast, the French Southern Lands NNR, which was created in 2006 and extended in 2016, covers an area of 67,200,000 hectares.
France’s national nature reserves show the richness and variety of its natural environments. They range from marine areas (Sept-Iles NNR) to high altitudes (Aiguilles Rouges NNR), to wetlands, forests, and even peri-urban areas (Saint-Quentin en Yvelines NNR). Thanks to its presence in all metropolitan and overseas regions, the network of national nature reserves hosts a large part of France’s rare or threatened living environments, animals, plants, fossils and minerals. Thanks to its representativeness, France is able to fully participate in European and international commitments to protect biodiversity.