The histogram presented under the tab Progression, concerning the progression of the number of reclamations from the sea along the French Mediterranean coast  (see corresponding histogram) shows a period of tripling of reclamations between 1960 and 1985, then a distinct slowing down of these redevelopments between 1985 and 2010.
This slowing down is to a large extent the result of an Act (arrêté) banning the destruction of marine phanerogams (Posidonia oceanica and Cymodocea nodosa). (Arrêté of 19 July 1988).


herbier posidonia oceanica

The Posidonia (Posidonia oceanica) seagrass meadow is the sub-sea equivalent of the forest. The Posidonia are flowering plants (phanerogams). They extend between 0 and -38 m depth. This plant has been strictly protected off the whole of the French Mediterranean coast since 1988. (Photo : A. Meinesz)

prairie cymodocees

Meadow of Cymodocea (Cymodocea nodosa). These are flowering plants (phanerogams). This species, which mainly develops between 0 and -20m, has been strictly protected off the whole of the French Mediterranean coast since 1988. (Photo : A. Meinesz)


Several tens of harbour construction (for pleasure boats) or landfills (for road extensions or car parks) have been cancelled because of the presence of these plants on the planned site of these reclamation schemes. The scope of this legislation has been strengthened by the European Council: these plants figure on the list of species that are strictly protected (Berne Convention, September 1979, a list adopted at Strasbourg on 5 December 1997). This list has been validated by a decree of the French ministry of foreign affairs dated 7 July 1999. This is how the harbour projects (or harbour extension projects) planned during the decades 1980 to 2010 at Menton, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Nice (extension of the shipping port), Cagnes-sur-Mer, Antibes, Saint-Tropez, Six-Fours-Les-Plages, and so on, despite being more or less completed, came to be abandoned.
From 1985 to 2010, it was mainly sea defences that were constructed (jetties, groynes: see corresponding histogram), and these types of construction take up little space along the coast (little coastline artificialised: see corresponding histogram) and little built-over surface area (see corresponding histogram).
Nevertheless, taking into account the various scenarios for the rise of the sea level in the coming century (GIEC 2007 : 4th report of the intergovernmental group of experts on climate change, see www.ipcc.ch), it is clear that the artificialisation of the coast will be on the increase in order to protect the resources that have been accumulated along the coasts (sea defences for the protection of roads, railways, agricultural land or urban areas on low-lying coasts).
It is therefore all the more important, in terms of sustainable development, to preserve, today and lastingly, extensive areas of still natural coast (not yet artificialised coastline). Following the example of the green spaces where agricultural or natural areas have been preserved (in town planning projects), which break the tentacular expansion of the great conurbations, the same principle should be applied to our coasts.