To Unesco home page

To sitemap

To MAB home page title2.gif (2287 bytes)
      Biosphere Reserve Information



© Photo: F. Bioret
  General Description   Iroise Biosphere Reserve, located on the coast of Brittany, comprises small rocky marine islands and islets and open marine areas to a depth of -20 meters with strong currents and a high tidal range. It is of significance from a biodiversity point of view since it encompasses a variety of habitats e.g. for more than 300 species of seaweed, large sea bird colonies and populations of basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and grey seal (Halichoerus grypus). The Isle of Ouessant reaches no higher than 60 meters in altitude and its landscape is one of meadows grazed by sheep and crisscrossed with stone walls and numerous hamlets.
The transition area of the biosphere reserve includes the islands of Ouessant and Molène with their 1,200 inhabitants (2001). With about 300,000 passengers on marine and air transports annually (2001), daily tourism is a significant element of the local economy, providing the basis for commercial activities on the islands. However, also fishing activities remain important. Numerous educational and training activities are carried out in the biosphere reserve, such as guided visits for school classes, exhibits, public information meetings and internships.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate broadleaf forests or woodlands (including coastal/marine component)
  Major habitats & land cover types   Islands; marine waters and sandy bottoms; marine algae communities dominated by Fucus spiralis, F. vesiculosus and Laminaria digitata; gravel, rocks and rocky bottoms (Zostera seagrass beds, Laminaria and kelp seaweed communities); sandy beaches; pebble beach communities with Beta maritima and Crambe maritima; rocky coasts and islets; coastal marshlands; coastal grasslands; dry moorlands; enriched pasturelands; scrublands (ferns, willows); mesotrophic backwaters
  Location   48°24'N; 4°58'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   20,613
  Core area(s)   48
  Buffer zone(s)   845
  Transition area(s) when given   19,720 (of which marine: 18,820)
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   -20 to +60
  Year designated   1988
  Administrative authorities   Syndicat mixte du Parc Naturel Régional d’Armorique (collectivité territoriale) Bretagne Vivante SEPNB
  Brief description   Stone and archeological heritage
Evolution of coastline
Inventory of historical sites undertaken in the 1980s; archaeological diggings since 1988
Succession of proto-urban habitants from Neolithic times to the Roman era; major European site for study of Bronze and Iron ages
Research and monitoring of petrel populations
Research and monitoring of vegetation of coastal grasslands
Ecology of lochs and impact of artisanal fishing on low tidal flats
Long term monitoring of nesting land birds in relation to changes in the island environment
Permanent study on migrations and other movements of birds
Study and monitoring of threatened flagship species, the chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) (biology, ecology, impact of tourists, effect of tests to restore habitats)
Permanent inventory of flora and fauna
Applied studies on conservation/restoration of biotopes and habitats (wetlands, classified coastal sites)
Research on the inter-tidal zone of the Molene archipelago: study of micro-habitats; changes in low tidal flats; impact of artisanal fishing on fauna/flora of tidal flats (study aiming to integrate results in a GIS using high resolution remote-sensed data)
Study under completion in the ecology and dynamics of the grey seal of the Iroise Sea
Study planned on the economy of fishing in the Iroise Sea
Research on visitation of islets by tourists and sailing boats
Sociological study on protected natural habitats and application to potential Marine National Park
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Habitat.
  Biodiversity   Biology, birds, coastal/marine, conservation, ecology, fauna, flora, freshwater/inland water, island systems/islands, mammals, methodologies, migrating populations/migration, population genetics/population dynamics, rare/endangered/threatened species, restoration/rehabilitation/redevelopment, temperate grassland, vegetation studies/plant cover, wetlands.
  Socio-economic   Archaeology/Paleontology, economic studies, fishery/fisheries, recreation, social/socio-economic aspects, tourism, traditional practices/ethnology/traditional knowledge.
  Integrated monitoring   Environmental change, geographic information system/gis, impact and risk studies/environmental impact, remote sensing.
  Contact address   Véronique Hetet
Réserve de biosphère d'Iroise - Parc Naturel Régional d’Armorique
15 Place aux foires, BP 27
29590 LA FAOU
  Telephone   (33) (0) 2 98 81 90 08
  Web site

Last updated: 23/02/2007

To topTo MAB home pageTo UNESCO