The natural reserves are protected natural spaces of national or international importance. Although their surface is limited in France, they protect very specific environments and form a network representative of the richness of the territory.
A natural reserve is a legal tool allowing an effective and perennial protection of a fragile and remarkable natural space. It is also an instrument of management able to ensure the conservation and the maintenance of the inheritance. The statute of "natural reserve" is one of the strongest statutes of protection in France.
The objectives of conservation of the natural reserves are enumerated by the law. It is in particular:
- the safeguarding of disappearing animal or vegetable species and habitats.
- the safeguarding of remarkable environments.
- the safeguarding or the constitution of milestones along the migration paths of wild fauna.
The natural reserves are created by the government and under its responsibility. The Prefect is the responsible authority at the local level. He is advised by a "Consultative Committee of management" which he chairs, gathering the elected officials, administrations, scientists, environment protection associations, users associations and the representatives of socio-professional structures. The prefect chooses one (or many) manager(s) in charge of the monitoring, the management and the animation of the site.