France’s newest national park – its 11th – will be officially created on Friday.
The park, on the borders of Burgundy and Champagne, dedicated to protecting deciduous forests, has been 10 years in the planning.
It will become the national park that is closest to the capital, Paris. It is expected to create 30 direct and locally created jobs, and is set to see tourist numbers increase from 30,000 a year to 100,000 within two or three years.
“This territory is both very representative of the French countryside and forest” said Hervé Parmentier, director of the Public Interest Group (GIP) responsible for setting up the park, adding that “80% of the trees were already there during the Revolution”.
Rare flowers including the sabot-de-vénus orchid and narcisse des poètes, as well as wild cats and the black stork will be protected in the forest.
Human activity in the area dates back to the Iron Age.
The project was launched in 2009 by François Fillon, then Prime Minister, who unveiled the chosen site: it sits on the Langres plateau, straddling the Haute-Marne and Côte-d’Or regions.
Taking in 250,000 hectares, the park will contain 127 communes and be home to 28,000 inhabitants. “We have sought a balance” between environmental protection and human activities, which will continue to be practiced but will be supervised, Mr Parmentier said.
Farmers in the zone, however, have complained that face more regulations without financial compensation, while foresters fear a loss of 20 to 25% of the volume of timber that can be harvested.
Existing National Parks in France
Parc national de la Vanoise
Parc national de Port-Cros
Parc national des Pyrénées
Parc national des Cévennes
Parc national des Écrins
Parc national du Mercantour
Parc national de la Guadeloupe
Parc amazonien de Guyane
Parc national de la Réunion
Parc national des Calanques