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Restoration of the Camargue's Former Saltworks

: The former saltworks restoration project can serve as a good example of how humans can help reverse a disturbance through adaptive restoration until nature can regain its functionality and restore its resilience. As the site is adjacent to a large wetland complex including the National Nature Reserve of the Camargue, this restoration project has set crucial management objectives to improve the connectivity between the lagoons and the sea. In particular, the restoration is based on reconnecting natural water flows (thus diminishing the salt concentration) and allowing spontaneous colonisation by wildlife. (Tour du Valat, 2018).
: France
: Arles
: Camargue Natural Regional Park
: 2011
: No Data
: Ongoing
: Yes
: Conservatoire du Littoral (owner), Camargue Natural Regional Park (coordinating manager), Tour du Valat and Société Nationale de Protection de la Nature (co-managers)
: 43.5419
: 4.5829
Increased infiltration, water retention and flood protection
Yes, this site plays an important role as a buffer zone against flooding from the sea. The creation of a buffer area contributes to a broader strategy (including dike adaptation and consolidation further inland) to mitigate flood risks. (Tour du Valat, 2018).
Biodiversity conservation or increased biodiversity
Yes, development of fish nurseries (through increased connectivity between coastal lagoons and the sea). This site hosts important biodiversity and is progressively becoming a more functional wild coastal wetland that reconnects with surrounding aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems within the Camargue Natural Park. (Tour du Valat, 2018).
Ecosystem restoration and/or improved ecological connectivity
Yes, through adaptive restoration. In this case, reconnecting water bodies leads to the eventual reshaping of water paths in a natural way (e.g. after a few storms). Newly emerged soils and restored waterways produce “new” homes for vegetation, fish, birds and other wildlife populations. Fish migration is progressively restored. Abandonment of the sea-dike along the coastline leads to the restoration of sediment transfer, contributing to the restoration of natural sandy coastlines. Wetland reconnection and restoration considerably improve water-spreading, thus mitigating the effects of sea surges. These coastal ecosystems become more resilient to better face the impacts of climate change. (Tour du Valat, 2018).
Increased quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
Increased social interaction and inclusion
The lagoons and marshes of the former Camargue saltworks can serve as a place for socialisation or gatherings, and as a location for taking a stroll or engaging in sports and leisure activities in the open air. (Tour du Valat, 2018).
Provision of health benefits
Yes, by creating additional recreational activities (cycling, hiking, horse-riding, etc.) both for locals and tourists. (Tour du Valat, 2018).
Education, knowledge exchange and learning
The benefits of the restoration project for society include also new opportunities to improve scientific knowledge (research on coastal dynamics and biodiversity, and strategies to adapt to sea-level rise) and increased prospects for environmental education (school and information visits). (Tour du Valat, 2018).
Flooding risk
Ecosystem degradation
Good health and well-being (SDG3)
Climate action, resilience, mitigation and adaptation (SDG13)
Aquatic biodiversity (SDG14)
Terrestrial biodiversity (SDG15)
: Tour du Valat. 2018. The restoration of the former saltworks in the Camargue: a nature-based solutions to adapt to sea-level rise. Information obtained: 2020-11-17. Available at: