The Cévennes national Park was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1985. A Biosphere Reserve reconciles preserving biodiversity with promoting economic and social development and maintaining related cultural values.
A Biosphere Reserve is not an area cultivated under glass, from which human beings are excluded. It is a living territory that has been selected for the application of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme. This consists of promoting a form of economic and social development that is based on preserving and developing local resources and encouraging citizens to participate.
The priorities of a Biosphere Reserve are: helping to preserve ecosystems, landscapes and species; encouraging economic development that respects the environment and local culture; instituting research projects that will help with the management of the territory; ensuring that the environment is continuously monitored; supporting training and education; encouraging the involvement of locals in decisions that concern their region.
The state-owned company of the Cévennes National Park manages the Cévennes Biosphere Reserve. After a trial period that was topographically limited (to the Galeizon Valley) or thematically limited (dry stone walls, renewable energies), the ambition of the Cévennes Biosphere Reserve is now to share its modus operandi with all the participants in the National Park and its local partners. The first step will be to make the borders of the Biosphere Reserve consistent with those of the National Park, settled by the Decree of 29 December 2009.
France has 10 Biosphere Reserves of the more than 500 in existence worldwide.