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ZNIEFF inventory

Nature and purposes

Launched in 1982, the purpose of the inventory of Natural Areas of Ecological Fauna and Flora Interest (ZNIEFF) is to identify and describe areas with strong biological capabilities and a good state of conservation. There are 2 ZNIEFF types:

  • ZNIEFF type I: areas of great biological or ecological interest;
  • ZNIEFF type II: large, rich and slightly modified natural landscapes, providing significant biological potential.

The ZNIEFF inventory concerns gradually the whole French territory (Metropolitan, nearly 15,000 areas: 12915 of type I and 1921 of type II, Overseas, terrestrial and marine environment).

A national modernisation (update and harmonisation of the method of achievement of this inventory) was launched in 1996 to improve the current knowledge, to standardise the criteria of ZNIEFF identification and to facilitate the dissemination of their content. 2004, nearly 2,000 ZNIEFF have been modernised and validated nationally in 3 regions (Limousin, Normandie, Champagne-Ardenne).

This inventory has now become a major component of the policy of protection of nature. It must be consulted for projects planning (planning document, creating protected areas, development of departmental quarry plans).

Estuaire, marais et côteaux © F.Lepareur & Esterel © N.Michez

Development of the inventory. MNHN's role

Collecting the information is performed at the regional level following a common methodology defined jointly by the MNHN and the MEDD in order to provide the best guarantee of consistency in the information issued by different regions. Entries are made on a specifically developed software. After a regional validation by the Regional Scientific Board for Natural Heritage (CSRPN), the data are transmitted to the MNHN for national validation.

DIRENs are the architects of the inventory, they rely on a scientific secretariat which can be outsourced (given to a local protection associations or nature study associations) and on a CSRPN. Observations are sent by the entire naturalist network: ONF, ONCFS, CSP, RNF, CELRL, Espaces naturels de France, study associations and nature protection associations. The National Botanical Conservatories are actively involved in ZNIEFF inventory, through the scientific secretariat they sometimes provide and through the data collection network.

As a sleeping partner of this inventory, the MEDD coordinates the DIRENs and the MNHN in this direction and provides financial support for the performance of this program.

For technical reasons, the ZNIEFF inventory is sub-divided into four themes: ZNIEFF terrestrial métropole, ZNIEFF marine métropole, ZNIEFF terrestrial overseas and ZNIEFF marine overseas. The MNHN provides, for the entire program, the methodological coordination and the scientific validation of the inventory.