Académie des technologies

Biodiversity and land-planning policies

Biodiversity and land-planning policies:
local and global aspects, specifics and generalities

Academic Advice Note adopted by vote in the NATF at its Dec.9, 2015 Plenary session

The National Academy of Technologies of France (NATF) recommends that dynamic management policies in favour of biodiversity be included in land planning schemes.

The Academic Advice Note approved by vote in the NATF’s December 2015 plenary session – resulting as it did from several years of investigations and debates carried out jointly with the Academy of Agriculture of France – recommends that all land planning schemes and projects include, as of the formal impact assessment stage, all the dimensions of biodiversity, whether positive or negative. In this respect, NATF addresses a series of recommendations to public authorities for consideration in the framework of (or as a complement to) the draft bill of law entitled “To reconquer biodiversity, Nature and landscapes”, currently under examination at the Senate French Upper House).

Biodiversity seen as a factor of resiliency for ecosystems, plays a key role in the preservation of the Earth’s environment and in the lifestyles of its inhabitants. It is also a source of inspiration for certain technological innovations (bio-mimic or bio-inspired technologies) that have led to novel medicinal drugs or material and to new and original ecosystem management policies. But the fact is that biodiversity is not well-known because certain random phenomena play a key role and, notwithstanding, they have as yet not been extensively studied.

Since the adoption of French Law dated July 10, 1976, appertaining to protection of Nature, all land planning projects must include a so-called environmental impact assessment study, presenting recommended measures designed to avoid (or at least mitigate) damage that the projects might induce on neighbouring milieu (the doctrine in French has the acronym ERC ‘avoid-reduce-mitigate’).

The draft bill of law, aimed at the “Re-conquest of biodiversity, Nature and landscapes” adopted in its first Parliamentary presentation March 24, 2015 by the Members of the Assemblée Nationale (French Lower House), and currently under discussion at the Senate, introduces some new measures relating to mitigation of negative impacts.

In its Academic Advice Note, voted by the NATF Members at their December 9, 2015 plenary, the Academy recommends that any future planning schemes should include the biodiversity factors as a possible resource and should implement the best-suited techniques and methodologies to assess gradual loss of biodiversity, taking into account the adaptability and evolutionary properties of living matter systems.

The impact assessment should also analyse cost/benefit factors, advantages and disadvantages, as relevant to the projected schemes(s), to the modification, to the conservation, to the valorisation of specific ecosystems and their biodiversity, and even to increase of the latter.

NATF likewise recommends that research be made into biodiversity for the purpose of acquiring new knowledge that will facilitate policy decision-making. NATF concludes that this extended knowledge base is necessary to promote a dynamic, adaptive management for biodiversity, a step towards truly ecology-intensive engineering, the in which conservation would constitute only one of the measures. Thus, the Academy advocates a renewed long-term social and economic policy thrust, based on an ecological transition, with the constant aim and concern to improve wellbeing, of both today’s and tomorrow’s Societies.