The chaine des puys – limagne fault is an official french
candidate for unesco’s world heritage list

An announcement was made on Thursday 24 January by Aurélie Filippetti and Delphine Batho, the ministers for Culture and the Environment, of the two applications to be put forward to the World Heritage Centre by France in 2013:
the Chaîne des Puys – Limagne Fault and the Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc

Delphine Batho visited the site on 11 January, and her strong support gave rise to great hopes. The government has just confirmed these by opting to follow the recommendations of the National Committee for French World Heritage Sites, which for the second year proposed forwarding the following sites to the World Heritage Centre:
The Grotte Chauvet – Pont d’Arc, cultural site
The Chaîne des Puys – Limagne Fault, natural site

The Chaîne des Puys – Limagne Fault is a key site of international importance in terms of volcanology and tectonics. This renowned geological site gained national status in 2000 for its aesthetic value, through classification under the national natural monuments and sites act. By gathering together in one area all the main elements of continental tectonics, it provides an impressive example of the range of volcanism and the various geological processes which have formed our planet Earth.

An application borne along by widespread support
This national decision, which marks the beginning of a long process to gain international recognition, is nevertheless crucial. Jean-Yves Gouttebel, the President of the Conseil Général of the Puy-de-Dôme, who initiated the project 5 years ago, and has overseen it since then, wanted “to thank the local people and the 41, 000 backers who signed the supporters list, as well as the scientists and politicians involved, and of course the Auvergne businesses which have committed themselves so fully to this major regional project through a foundation which was set up for the preservation and promotion of the site.” The Conseil Général of the Puy-de-Dôme and all those who have taken part in this application, notably the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park and the Universities of Clermont-Ferrand, are delighted by this recognition of the significant scientific work, the well-planned management, and the collective mobilisation behind this large-scale project, which unites 467 of the 470 communes in the Puy-de-Dôme department.

Long-term prospects for the whole region
From the outset of this application, the Conseil Général and its institutional partners (the Auvergne Regional Council, the Auvergne Volcanoes Regional Park, the representative State bodies in the Region) have anticipated a range of effects related to the protection of the site : increased profile for the region, local development, and scientific outreach. In concrete terms this encompasses:
establishing a coordinated management plan for the natural site ; while its existing national status has meant that it has been protected by regulations, these were not applied and managed from a comprehensive, multi-partner point of view;
preserving the clear profiles of the landscape through raising awareness of their importance, and supporting traditional activities such as summer pasturing to keep down the vegetation and maintain the quality of the land forms; anticipating the consequences of increased tourism, which must be managed to allow for sustainable and well-planned development to benefit the whole department, and further afield ;
ongoing research on the geology of the area, and the dissemination of this information to the general public.

What next ?
There are 18 months of international evaluation before the World Heritage Committee announces its decision in the summer of 2014. This intervening period will see the implementation of the coordinated management plan, and presentation at numerous public meetings to raise awareness for the site, in addition to ongoing scientific work on an international scale.
A delegation of experts commissioned by UNESCO will visit the site in the autumn of 2013 to evaluate the application. In the same context, an international conference will take place from 11 – 13 September 2013 in Clermont-Ferrand, on the management of inhabited natural heritage sites, organised by the Conseil Général of the Puy-de-Dôme in conjunction with the Centre for Research and Higher Education.
The Chaîne des Puys – Limagne Fault could become the first natural site from mainland France to be registered on the World Heritage List, since the other three existing French sites are all islands (Lagoons of New Caledonia, Gulf of Porto in Corsica, and Pitons, Cirques and Remparts of Reunion Island).

The project can be followed via :
The project internet site www.chainedespuys-failledelimagne.com ;
The Facebook page Pour que la Chaîne des Puys soit reconnue patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO ;
Twitter : @chainedespuys
and in various media in the Puy-de-Dôme which are dedicated to the protection and promotion of the natural heritage.