The subject is not simple but let us try to summarize it. In 2018, in his biodiversity plan, Nicolas Hulot, then Minister for Ecological and Solidarity Transition, used for the first time the expression Zero Net Artificialization (ZAN) whose objective is to slow down the rate of artificialization of soils, to thus limiting the consumption of new spaces and, if possible, returning to nature the equivalent of the areas consumed.
In short, to cope with galloping urbanization, and the proliferation of service or transport infrastructures such as commercial areas. And of course global warming. The figures speak for themselves: each year, 165 hectares of natural environments are artificialized, i.e.
6 times the area of Paris.
Law on land take, news
Why golf matters
The Climate and Resilience law adopted in August 2021 precisely sets two dates: – 2030 to halve the rate of land take compared to the 2011-2021 reference period – 2050 to achieve a net artificialisation that is zero.
That is to say so that any artificialized space gives rise to an equivalent space returned to nature. How is the development of golf, often a natural green lung at the heart of polluting urbanization, affected by this law and these objectives? Perhaps firstly because artificialization is “an object that is still poorly characterized”, explains a well-known expert.
“We understand that the impact on biodiversity is not the same depending on whether a forest is transformed into a tarmac parking lot or agricultural land into a green space! But the means of measurement are heterogeneous and the realities are often vague”.
Then, with regard to golf developments, it would be dangerous to equate them with urban developments that would waterproof the soil, which they do not do. This law added to the legislative provisions concerning wetlands and the filling of groundwater can lead to the sterilization of land projects such as golf courses.
The protection of wetlands is recorded in a regulatory manner in the law and the SDAGE (master plan for water development and management). Article 23 of Law No. 2019-773 of July 24, 2019 creating the French Office for Biodiversity amended Article L.211-1 of the Environment Code as follows: “by wetland land, exploited or not, usually flooded or waterlogged with fresh, salt or brackish water on a permanent or temporary basis, or whose vegetation, when it exists, is dominated there by hygrophilous plants for at least part of the year ‘year ” Examination of recent projects for the establishment of new golf courses has shown that the change of a single word “and” replaced by “or” has multiplied by a factor of more than 15 the so-called wet surfaces.
Thus, today a clay soil, whether located on a valley or on a hill, above a water table constitutes a humid zone or not. The almost constant absence of hygrophilous flora on these soils, over the course of a year, will cause them to be qualified as “poorly functional”, but they will remain classified as “wetland”, and their modification will always require compensation of 1 ha for 1 Ha.
In the event of destruction of a wetland surface, compensation is provided of 1 to 1 for poorly functional wetlands, based on a soil assessment, and more (often 2) for those considered functional, based on the presence hygrophilous vegetation.
Impossible establishment of new golf courses in France? This reductive assessment, unjustified from an environmental point of view, eliminates the possibility of setting up new golf courses practically everywhere in France.
If on the regulatory level, the clarification can be commendable, on the environmental level, which is the fundamental one, it brings constraints far removed from the initial objectives. In the case of golf courses, the grassing of the soil meets the three initial environmental objectives devolved to wetlands: “they constitute a reservoir for the biodiversity linked to this type of environment, they make it possible to naturally filter pollution from surface and underground water, and finally, they act as a carbon sink”.
Therefore, under no circumstances should the surface of a golf course be assimilated to a surface that destroys a wetland, including in the event of a change in its flatness, once it is vegetated again. Net Zero Artificialisation (ZAN) is a target set for 2050.
It requires territories, municipalities, departments and regions to reduce the rate of artificialisation and consumption of natural, agricultural and forest areas by 50% by 2030 by compared to consumption measured between 2011 and 2020. While the objective is laudable,
Leave a Reply