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The day after the Congress ends, Ajaccio and Corsica will pick up the standard of marine conservation and host in close succession the Ajaccio Ministerial Conference for Ocean Conservation (Oct. 26 and 27) and the second international summit of the Marine Protected Area Agency Partnership (Oct. 28 and 29).
Corsica is the most mountainous of all the Mediterranean islands, with around fifty of its summits culminating at more than 6500 ft. At the same time, it offers an extremely varied coastline featuring marinas, seaside resorts, beaches of fine sand and wild creeks.
Its vegetation is made up in equal proportion of forest and scrubland. Its many lakes, rivers and streams, fed in the springtime by melting snow, have earned it the nickname of “the green island”.
Corsica enjoys an exceptional climate all year round. The sea and mountains combine to regulate temperatures throughout the year, resulting in a climate that is warm and dry in the summer while remaining mild in the winter.
Corsica harbors an outstanding array of biodiversity preservation initiatives. Its six nature reserves, both marine and coastal, cover close to 200,000 acres.
The island’s western coast features an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Gulf of Porto (itself part of the Corsica Regional Nature Park), encompassing Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata and Scandola Nature Reserve.
The northeastern part of the island harbors Biguglia Lagoon Nature Reserve, a Ramsar-listed wetland site. Its management goals combine river-basin conservation and the sustainable economic development of an agricultural and residential coastal plain.
These various protected areas provide shelter to distinctively Mediterranean species of fauna and flora, such as posidonia meadows, red corals, groupers and giant limpets. They also contribute to the region’s economic development by safeguarding traditional industries, like small-scale fishing, and encouraging new activities that respect natural habitats, such as wildlife tourism.
Efforts to develop the island on a sustainable basis were reinforced in 2002, when a legal review gave the Corsica Territorial Collectivity new responsibilities for creating and managing nature reserves, leading to the forging of closer links with the Agence des aires marines protégées (French Marine Protected Areas Agency).
Extending out from the island’s southern tip, the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation - International Marine Park of the Strait of Bonifacio (EGTC-PMIBB), between Corsica and Sardinia, breaks new ground by applying the EGTC legal instrument to the cross-border management of marine protected areas.
The EGTC-PMIBB, created on Dec. 7, 2012, in Bonifacio, brings together French and Italian players. On the French side, they include the Office de l’environnement de la Corse (Corsica Environment Office, which oversees Strait of Bonifacio Nature Reserve, the largest on the island), adjacent land managed by the Conservatoire du littoral (agency responsible for the preservation of the French coastline), and Tre Padule de Suartone Nature Reserve. The Italian side is represented by Maddalena Archipelago National Park.
Corsica also stands at heart of Pelagos Marine Mammal Sanctuary. Another case of cross-border cooperation, it extends from the northern tip of Sardinia all the way to the coastline of mainland France, Italy, and Monaco.
The Sanctuary was created in 1992, based on the observation that while the area shelters dense populations of marine mammals, they stand under increasing pressure from human activities. Stress factors include fishing, urbanization, collisions with ships, pollution, and whale watching.
The Sanctuary monitors the evolution of marine mammal populations and of their habitats, while promoting respectful behaviors among all those who use the sea.