Wednesday 23 November 2016

Stopping hunting on your land in France

As this is another subject that keeps cropping up here is a little reminder that you don’t have to have the chasse trundling across your land or through your garden if you don’t want them there. 

It would take far too much space to write everything about the subject, so to keep it simple, we could say that after the revolution hunting became something of a free for all until the main law which relates to the situation now was passed in 1964, the so called “Law Verdeille” named after Fernand Verdeille the senateur who proposed it. This regularised the situation somewhat and gave rights to hunters to form Associations known as d'associations communales de chasse agréées or ACCA which have a contract with the commune, (renewable every 5 years), and gave the rights to hunt on all the territory within that commune in return for an indemnity to control species that cause damage to agriculture or forestry. The only alternative to this was for landowners with 20 hectares or more to create an area of private hunting.  There is also a requirement for an ACCA to “set aside” a minimum of 10% of “their” territory as hunt free zones, a rule which is frequently operated in a cynical manner placing these zones where no one would or could hunt anyway.  The  main flaw in this law was that it didn’t give the choice or right to landowners to withdraw their land from hunting completely.

This changed with the French bill n°2000-698 of 26th July 2000 which amended the rural code allowing owners opposed to hunting to withdraw their land from the ACCA, thus giving them the opportunity to create a "wildlife sanctuary" or hunt free zone. This change in law was brought about by a case brought before the European Court by a group of landowners and on 29th April 1999, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Law Verdeille was incompatible with the rights of a private landowner in a case that was defended and lost by the French State. This still doesn’t allow for someone who is not in principle against hunting but simply wants to prevent it taking place on their land to do so as they have to be willing to give up the right to hunt themselves anywhere in France, as a person using this law can not be in possession of a Permis de Chasse, (hunting permit).  

Should anyone wish to prevent hunting and hunters on their land see this link - Stopping hunting on your land in France


Monday 14 November 2016

Organic or Bio food in France

It would be negligent in the extreme to ignore the importance of Organic food production if we are to be serious about preserving our wildlife and the environment. All of the major French Bird and Wildlife Associations are now forming relationships and working closely with Organic farmers to enable them to be even more “Wildlife friendly” including installing ponds, hedgerows, bird and bat boxes. 

Although the consumption of organically produced food or Bio as it is known in France still only represents 3% of the total food consumed both the growth in demand and availability are increasing at an unprecedented rate with sales in 2015 reaching 5.75 billion euros which in itself is probably an underestimate. France itself at the end of 2015 had 28,725 certified organic farmers and 1.3 million hectares of certified land.

Of course a considerable amount of the organic food purchased in France isn’t actually produced in France but is imported from other countries. In some cases this is simply because the food in question couldn’t be grown in France, (Bananas, Coconuts, Pomegranates, Citrus fruits are good examples), or because France simply can’t or doesn’t produce sufficient quantities of some produce which can be for a number of reasons such as not having enough people or land in the given sector or because another country has a better climate and length of season providing greater productivity.

The issue of where the food is actually produced and how it is marketed is needless to say contentious and understandably so. Some people are of the opinion that all our needs should be met by buying local produce from a local producer and this is certainly something that makes good sense but there are limits to what can be purchased in this manner and at best will only supply a small part of a person’s diet. Much will depend on what local producers are present, what distance you would need to travel and when bearing in mind that people have work and other commitments. Many local producers do sell from home whether that be a farm, market garden or their house but frequently with fixed times and perhaps only for a couple of hours a week in addition to which they may be present at one local market a week.
Click photos to enlarge.
Fresh Organic produce from a local grower
Depending on where you live there may be a specialist organic or partially organic food /health shop within a relatively comfortable travelling distance and these will usually stock produce from a number of different local producers as well as stocking some produce from further away with dry and pre-packaged foods from other countries. These smaller retail outlets along with some of the growers often provide a more personal service and many will also take orders by phone or e-mail as a “box” service and may deliver to market.  Frequently these outlets will also perform other functions providing a place where people will connect socially or perhaps find information regarding alternative therapies and other less mainstream groups or events. 
Above: Monthly Organic producers market at an Organic farm.  
Above: Organic cheese producer Grégoire Masse with his marbled Goat and Cows milk cheese.

Then we have one of the major drivers of growth in the Organic sector, the Supermarkets that have really started to come into their own in France over the last couple of years and recently some such as Auchan are pushing forwards providing a great range of interesting produce. Many people have fundamental objections to Supermarkets but the reality is that they are of great importance making available to the consumer types of organic produce that they wouldn’t be able to source elsewhere which has to be good for both peoples health and the environment where production takes place.
Photo above: Organic Spelt bread mix that can be used either by hand or in a bread machine.

Above Left: Organic pure pomegranate juice.  Right: Organic rice milk

This gives us more or less three different supply lines to the consumer all of which have an equal role to play in providing people with produce that is both kinder to the environment and healthy to use or eat either of which should be a good enough reason to buy organic wherever possible.

It should be mentioned that an argument that is frequently made is that not everyone can afford to buy organic produce but this really isn’t the case and although it may not be possible to “go completely organic” it is well within most people’s budget to make a large proportion of their purchases organic. It may require some changes in lifestyle, perhaps trying different meals that use different ingredients and avoiding fast food. Reducing meat, poultry and dairy consumption will save money and provide health benefits as well as reducing the burden on land use.

With over 40% of consumers in France making some organic purchases every week and 10% on a daily basis in 2015 the signs are encouraging and hopefully this will continue to grow. With pesticides and industrial food production being the major causes of environmental destruction leading to both habitat and species loss it’s something where we can all make a real difference just by changing what we buy. 

Together we can make a difference.