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In the mountains, a vital challenge: reconciling tourism and the preservation of wildlife

At the end of winter, the call of nature is urgent, the desire to hike itches. Nature is waking up, births have begun for certain animal species. How not to disturb wildlife and preserve the environment during this sensitive period? The Federation of Catalan Nature Reserves has produced two documents to adopt responsible practices.

The backpack is ready, the hiking shoes too. Head for sites with remarkable natural heritage. And let’s face it, our department has no shortage of them! Precisely, the attraction aroused can weaken these sites. Therefore, it is necessary to respect the instructions which are indicated at the start of the hiking trails, especially during this sensitive period of births.

In nature reserves and more generally, there is a need to stay on marked routes. Wildlife is subject to relatively strong disturbance pressure. By following a few best practices and using common sense, we can all help preserve them.” Explain Remi Laffitte ranger technician in the Mantet nature reserve, project manager for “sports events and nature activities” at the Federation of Catalan nature reserves.

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Nature wakes up in the mountains: as always, we must keep our distance

“You should, for example, avoid coming with your dog because, even if it is not in contact with wild animals, its smell disturbs and stresses the fauna which considers it a predator.” Rémi Lafitte also recommends remote observation, using binoculars.

“Leaving the trails and getting too close can lead to stress and the withdrawal of animals to less favorable places. The reduction in the time devoted to feeding induces the aggravation of the risk of predation, an increase in energy expenditure and the deterioration of the physical condition. On birds, this can affect egg-laying and brooding.”

To avoid disturbing wildlife, observation from a distance is recommended.

Do not leave the marked paths is one of the recommendations.

Do not leave the marked paths is one of the recommendations.

Supervise outdoor sports activities

In the eleven national nature reserves of the Pyrénées-Orientales, it is nature that sets its requirements. To ensure the vital needs of species, the Federation of Catalan Nature Reserves (FRNC) and local managers try to supervise leisure activities, in particular sports.

The reserves are open to nature sports enthusiasts, but subject to compliance with the regulations in force “including compliance with the charter of good conduct enacted by the reference sports federations” adds Rémi Laffitte, “in addition to the disturbance of wildlife, there may be an impact on other activities, such as agropastoralism but also hunting or fishing.

To promote better living together, the FRNC, thanks to European LEADER funding, has developed various digital tools fed by naturalist data from the Nature Reserves, such as the cartographic web site of the RN of Mantet, the Biodiv’sports interface orchestrated by the LPO of Auvergne Rhône Alpes and the Geotrek of the Department. These tools make it possible to locate regulatory areas and provide information on the sensitivity of species and advice on not disturbing them. The important thing is to keep a link with the users of natural spaces “what we are doing with Natura Catalana, newly released booklets, and the website of the Federation of Nature Reserves. We must not have moralizing speeches, people make mistakes through ignorance, it is up to us to continue to inform them, to federate and share.” summarized Rémi Laffitte.

The R’sreserves in actionIoutdoor activities https://www.reserves-naturelles-catalanes.org/les-reserves-en-action/les-activites-de-pleine-nature/

Federal scheme on outdoor activities https://www.reserves-naturelles-catalanes.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/schema-federal-2019-2023.pdf

Digital tools https://www.reserves-naturelles-catalanes.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/livret-outil-numerique.pdf

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