Pascal Xicluna /

As part of the French Biodiversity Plan, the ministries responsible for agriculture, the environment and urban affairs have put in place a working group aiming to fight against the artificialization of land.

Land artificialization refers more broadly to the occupation of space and to urban and territorial projects desired by local governments and their inhabitants. The issues of restraint in land use and ambitious housing policy can be reconciled in projects in cities and small towns. That means continuing and strengthening actions taken to renew urban landscapes, rehabilitating and constructing in already urbanized areas, and giving certain zones back to nature.

The Biodiversity Plan, first presented on July 4, 2018, announced structural actions to limit the consumption of natural, agricultural, and forest spaces, to fight against urban sprawl, and to participate in the implementation of the goal of zero net artificialization.

Urban sprawl and the artificialization of soils, through their destruction and fragmentation of natural, farm, and forest spaces, directly contributes to ecosystem degradation and biodiversity erosion. These phenomena erode the potential of France’s farm production and, in the long term, threaten France’s food autonomy. Additionally, they reduce the possibilities available to fight against climate change by decreasing the storage of carbon in soils. This development model can also involve a decrease in quality of life by pushing jobs and public services farther away from where people live as well as decreasing access to public transportation. It also implies large costs associated with individual car use.

The working group will be composed of members representing civil society, lawmakers, NGOs, and urban and rural planning representatives to discuss the issues and to build a national trajectory for France to meet its goal of zero net artificialization.

During the first working group, the national portal of land artificilization, open since July to provide data to all on measuring the phenomenon throughout France, was presented.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to share recommendations. The working group will aim to provide recommendations by the end of 2019 to the government for further action it can take in addition to measure already underway.

The collective goal that the group set for themselves is to come up with a new model of sustainable development to find a different way to inhabit our spaces, by adapting ourselves to local realities and contexts. The working group proposes to identify operational measures that will contribute to meeting these goals.