The geographic position of both metropolitan and overseas France, on land and at sea, has given it an extremely diversified natural heritage and a special geopolitical responsibility in the crisis that biodiversity is experiencing, in its territory and worldwide.
Metropolitan France ranks first in Europe for the diversity of amphibians, birds and mammals and is home to 40% of European flora species and more than 50% of the types of habitats that are of Community interest (natural, land or water habitat, endangered or with restricted ranges or that constitute a remarkable example of features of one or several of the nine bio-geographical regions which is expected to be designated a special area of conservation).
The French maritime area, the 2nd largest in the world, covers 11 million km². France shares land and sea borders with 35 countries in the world and several protected border areas are engaged in cooperation actions resulting in the gradual establishment of cross-border protected areas. Overseas French communities contain 16 marine ecoregions covering 10% of the world’s coral reefs and lagoons and 20% of the world’s atolls.
Of the 34 hotspots of biodiversity in the world (a biodiversity hotspot is a geographical area with fewer than 1,500 endemic plant species but that has already lost at least 70% of the species present in their original state), 5 hotspots on land and 2 at sea can be found in France. The total surface area of hotspots only accounts for 2.3% of the Earth’s surface but more than 50% of plant species and 42% of species of terrestrial vertebrates live there.
At national level, the network of terrestrial protected areas covers 29.5% of the territory and the network of marine protected areas covers more than 22% of the waters of metropolitan and overseas France. In May 2019, President Macron therefore announced an increase of the percentage of terrestrial and marine protected areas to 30%, including a third of protected areas in nature by 2022.
To achieve this objective, a new national strategy for terrestrial and marine protected areas is being drafted for the period 2020-2030.
Updated: May 2020