Biodiversity is under serious threat and hunters are often the first to see the effects in the status of wild game. That is why hunters in the French department of Vendée have been working on restoration projects for over 20 years. Many restoration projects, specifically planting and afforestation activities, were initiated after a large storm in 1999.
In 2022, 30,552 trees (of around forty different species) were planted in 58 locations in the department. These plantings represent 9.41 ha of afforestation and 14.71 km of additional hedges, which can be attributed to the hunters.
In 20 years, 512,000 trees and shrubs, financed by the Hunting Federation, have been planted in 679 sites, representing 374 ha of woodland and 96 km of hedges.
Under the European Green Deal, the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 commits to planting at least 3 billion additional trees in the EU by 2030 in full respect of ecological principles.
In the framework of the proposed Nature Restoration Law, binding nature restoration targets are set. Restoring EU’s ecosystems will help to increase biodiversity, mitigate and adapt to climate change, and reduce the impacts of natural disasters.
This project stands as an excellent example of how hunters are already contributing to the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the proposed nature restoration targets.
Whether it is linear plantations, afforestation, creating or strengthening existing hedges, the objective remains the same; to help improve biodiversity of their environments.
By providing heterogeneity in the landscape, this project benefits a large variety of wildlife, including farmland bird species which relies on tall hedgerows and bushes to shelter, nest and breed. Such environmental efforts provide many other benefits such as providing rich insect and fruits food to bird species. The tree, the hedge, the tall grass are all indeed the source of life.
The tree is a fixed element of the bocage landscape, providing habitat diversity, water, contributing to the fight against greenhouse gases and climate change. To hunters the tree is an agronomic asset. It is important that this lesson is spread to all stakeholders.