How can we best combine human activity with the preservation of nature?

This is the question that many people ask themselves. For decades, France has been trying to put in place tools to protect its natural areas. Faced with environmental upheavals, it is important to study our behavior and ecological impact in the world around us. 

Water sports and activities are part of the disciplines in harmony with nature. Let’s discover together how the different structures and organizations act in favor of the protection of the environment. 

green water activities

Natural 2000: a wide ecological european comunity

“There is no future without healthy nature”

The Natura 2000 network gathers natural or semi-natural sites in the European Union to be part of an ecological and solidarity-based transition. In France, there are nearly 1780 natural sites. The objective of this network is to find a balance between conservation and exploitation. That is to say, to create a space where nature can flourish while supporting responsible human activities. 

Natura 2000 is the largest network of protected areas in the world. It represents 18% of the EU territory, 26,000 terrestrial and marine sites and more than 1,000 endangered species protected. Each country maintains a national action in favor of biodiversity. 

How does it works?

In France, the perimeters of the sites were delimited in 2005, they were then mapped and divided into management units. There are 14 different management units. A management unit groups environments that have similar biological stakes and that must be managed in the same way (such as UG2 = priority open environments / UG8 = native forests of great biological interest).

To preserve biodiversity, there are general management measures that apply to all sites. For example, in agricultural areas, plowing of permanent grassland is prohibited. In forestry, softwoods cannot be planted within 12 meters of the banks of a watercourse. In addition to the general measures, there are specific measures for each management unit.

For more information, consult natura 2000 to learn more about

green water activities

Water activities and respect for natural areas

Nature activities

There are many sports and activities that at first glance seem to be neutral in terms of environmental impact. Most people think that outdoor activities are synonymous with ecology. Well, it’s not! Think again, few activities are actually considered green. Golf, for example, has a strong impact on its natural space with the use of large quantities of water to keep the greens green.

Keeping the sea clean is one of the main concerns of water sports enthusiasts. Water sports like windsurfing, surfing, sailing or kitesurfing have a low impact on the environment. Indeed, these activities are practiced by playing with the forces of nature: the wind and the sea. This limits their carbon footprint because they do not depend on an engine. 

As for nature sports, we also find canoeing, kayaking and paddling. These disciplines are an immersion in nature. What could be better than a river trip to discover the fauna and flora? This is what creates the charm and richness of these activities. The boats and the paddle system allow you to come into contact with nature in a respectful way.

green water activities

Actions to take

Acting in favor of the protection of the environment requires a constant commitment and involvement by various actors and you are part of it. You are even considered as field actors!

Practicing an activity is good, but practicing an activity while paying attention to the natural space is even better. Here are some simple gestures you can implement when practicing your activities. 

  • Waste management: it is a primordial gesture if you want to respect the environment. When you go to the spot, remember to pick up and throw away your waste so as not to leave it in the middle of nature. Even a small piece of plastic is bad for the environment.
  • Between 2 sessions of canyoning, canoeing or kayaking, remember to clean your equipment properly to avoid the transport of bacteria from one course to another.
  • Pay attention to the plant species along the banks and in the water. These are living species that are often overlooked.

One of the main concerns that remains is the composition of materials and boats. As for the wind turbines, the operation is ecological but the composition of the materials is much less so. The equipment is not 100% eco-friendly. 

The good news is that many efforts are mobilized by manufacturers who are actively working on the production of innovative and environmentally friendly models. This is the example of surfing. Recently, American students have produced the first eco-friendly surfboard made from seaweed oil. Starboard, one of the references in the sector, designs boards made of organic epoxy resin.

green water activities

The greener spots

The spots and structures that offer water activities, establish a more responsible approach. The network Natura 2000 defines the natural area, as a result many actors mobilize to guarantee the right development of the biodiversity.
By the way, those actors mission is to protect the threaten areas and environments. Furthermore, they encourage the respect in the tourism, the silviculture, the agriculture and the sustainable fishing.

Canoe-Kayak Hérault de Natura 2000

Arnaud Pitman is the president of the canoe-kayak Hérault departmental committee of Natura 2000. Every day, he includes this concept in his activities practice.
Since a few months, many boards were put in the cities. The aim is to indicate that the site was classified as “Natura 200”.
The Palavasian ponds cover 75% of the approximately 847 hectares of the commune. It is therefore essential to preserve endangered or remarkable fauna, flora and natural habitats.

green water activities

Palavas Kayak de mer

Arnaud is the manager of Palavas Kayak de mer. His site aims to reconcile human activities with the conservation of the nature. “It is an extraordinary place, complex in terms of fauna and flora. During the migratory period, in the spring, there are a lot of birds that cross a part of the world and come to shelter here to feed and reproduce because this place is very rich. There are even sea fish that go up the river to come here because it is warmer than at sea at this time”.

green water activities

If you have the opportunity to visit this spot, you will be able to discover the biodiversity the is there. With Arnaud and his team, you will learn many things about the place, the region and the natural species.

Arnaud’s advice: “we have an access that is not the same in each pond. Navigating in the middle is not a problem, on the other hand you should not get too close to the banks or go along them because it is where the birds go to nest and there is a risk of damaging certain vegetation.”

You want to do some canoe in the gorges of the south of France ? Discover our article on the subject #Spotymag