Natural heritage with a strong identity
With cliffs, dunes, sandy and rocky beaches, and nature reserves, the Breton landscape is remarkably diverse. It is characterised by three types of vegetation: the wooded countryside, consisting of hedges usually located on an embankment surrounded by woods, moors and farmland; the heath, which is dominated by heather and gorse; the forest (mainly oak and beech), which covers 12% of the region.
Most importantly, however, Brittany consists of 2,730 km of coastline (a third of the French coast), which enhances the region's identity with 800 islands and islets, a large rocky foreshore and seabeds, offering a mosaic of exceptional habitats and promoting biodiversity. With 128 protected plant species, 78 species of wild mammal, including 18 marine animals (seals, dolphins, whales), and more than 260 species of bird, Brittany has a very rich natural heritage.
Natural parks, regional reserves and protected areas
From the Iroise Sea to the Monts d'Arrée, the Parc Naturel Régional d'Armorique (Armorica Regional Natural Park) was designed to preserve the natural heritage and present the richness of the flora and fauna in Brittany. Two new projects are currently underway, the Parc Naturel Régional du Golfe du Morbihan (Gulf of Morbihan Regional Natural Park) and the Parc Naturel Régional Rance Côte d'Emeraude (Rance Côte d'Emeraude Regional Natural Park). The first of its kind in France, the Parc Naturel Marin d'Iroise (Iroise Marine Natural Park) was created in 2007 and takes into account the features of Ushant, Molène and the Île de Sein.
Brittany also has 6 nature reserves, which aim to preserve the biodiversity of the sites and hence their remarkable landscapes.
Visit the site of Bretagne Environnement (an organisation providing information on the environment in Brittany)
Water, a precious heritage
Everyone, whether local authorities, farmers, industrialists or individuals, can contribute to better water management and restoring its quality, which has worsened in the past few decades. Programmes aimed at restoring the quality of water have been implemented in order to achieve the good ecological condition required by the European Union by 2015.
75% of Bretons believe that the coastline and the sea are the region's main assets. There are also many rivers, most notably the Vilaine, the Aulne, the Blavet, the Couesnon, the Rance, the Trieux, the Léguer and the Élorn.
Great potential in the area of clean energy
Significant energy dependence is one of the characteristics of Brittany. Only 5% of the electricity consumed is produced locally, most of which comes from the hydropower plants, particularly the Usine Marémotrice de la Rance (Rance Tidal Power Station) and the Barrage de Guerlédan (Guerlédan dam).
Renewable energy, however, is being developed to produce electricity and heat:
- Brittany has the 2nd highest wind potential in France, especially thnaks to Finistère. The use of this resource, which has so far been underutilised, is increasing significantly: it was estimated that 600 to 800 additional wind turbines would have been built by 2010. Currently, 36 wind farms are in operation.
- The region also has many assets in terms of marine energy (wind, wave, current, tidal). As part of the national programme IPANEMA (Initiative Partenariale Nationale pour l' Émergence des Energies Marines, a national partnership initiative for the development of marine energy), several projects are currently underway: the installation of a prototype wind turbine floating in deep water and the construction of a pilot tidal turbine farm off the island of Bréhat. In March 2008, the first experimental tidal turbine in France, named Sabella, was submerged in the sea in Bénodet, Finistère.
- Wood energy resources: the production of heat using wood chips covered between 5 and 15% of the energy needs in 2008. It has rapidly expanded over the past few years, and many wood-fired boiler room projects have emerged in different types of public, industrial, agricultural and commercial buildings, as well as multi-family housing.
Read a blog dedicated to marine energyVisit the site of Ademe Bretagne (Brittany's Environment and Energy Management Agency)Visit the site of the Association ABI Bois (an association for professionals who work with wood)
Breathe... Brittany is one of the least polluted regions in France, and the "air quality index" is good in 83% of Brittany's cities.
Approved by the Ministère de l'Écologie et du Développement Durable (Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development), Air Breizh is an organisation that monitors, studies and provides information on the quality of the air in Brittany. The regional network has 19 monitoring stations and around fifty analysers.