French marine waters are home to a remarkable diversity of habitats. They host eight marine habitat types listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive, including two priority habitats for conservation (1120 - Posidonia beds and 1150 coastal lagoons). France has an important responsibility for all these habitats, due to its representativeness in terms of area and the presence of sub-habitats on the limits of their distribution ranges. The French marine Natura 2000 network of sites was recently expanded, but reef habitats are still considered insufficiently covered. To address this, studies were conducted and a network of offshore sites is under designation to achieve a sufficient coverage. The French marine Natura 2000 network is still in its early stages and far from reaching its conservation status objectives. There are considerable gaps in knowledge about the marine environment and the effects of human activities, which means that such activities cannot be taken into account properly.
The cross-cutting objective of the LIFE IP - MarHa project is to achieve or maintain a favourable conservation status for marine habitats listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive. To achieve this, while ensuring effective and transparent management of the sites, the integrated project has the following operational objectives: 1. Management and governance allowing for a coordinated implementation of the Habitats Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive and Water Framework Directive, while incorporating the connection between land and sea; 2. Improved capacities and tools for implementing Natura 2000 policy; 3. Integration of marine users and activities; 4. Effective, proven and disseminated conservation and pressure mitigation actions; 5. Assessment of the conservation status of marine habitats on a biogeographical scale and monitoring devices for adaptive management; 6. Recognition by society of the marine Natura 2000 initiative; 7. Long-term future of the IP actions ensured through innovative financing mechanisms; 8. Reinforced international cooperation; and 9. Optimised project management and responsibility from an environmental standpoint.
Expected results: The results expected at the end of LIFE IP - MarHa are an improvement in the conservation status for all French marine habitat types listed in Annex I of the Habitats Directive by 2025, with at least half the habitats having good conservation status and no habitats having an unknown conservation status. The result expected for 2040 is a favourable conservation status for all the habitat types. It is expected that the project will contribute significantly to the implementation of the Prioritised Action Framework (PAF) for Natura 2000 in France and, more specifically, to all the marine habitat actions being carried out. Furthermore, it is expected that the Integrated Project contributes to the management of terrestrial Natura 2000 network sites.
In addition to the IP budget itself,the project will facilitate the coordinated use of 48 757 820 of complementary funding from EAFRD, ERDF, and national funds.