The management of protected natural areas in Hérault (France)

Protected territories called “The Sensitive Natural Areas” (ENS) constitute the foundation for the preservation and development of the Department's natural heritage, landscapes and biodiversity.


As part of preventive approach, Hérault has played a key role in classifying its entire natural and agricultural territory within this policy, from the beginning of the 1980s. This act, unique in France, allows the Department to preserve more than 8000 hectares of natural areas. Thereby, visitors can benefit today from very rich natural and cultural heritage.

These sites are in most cases equipped, open to the public and free of charge. They allow:

the preservation and improvement of biodiversity and landscapes;

the practice of outdoor activities;

the maintenance of traditional pastoral activities;

preservation against fire and urban extension;

preservation of wetlands, water resources, natural flood expansion fields and flood control.

This policy also made possible to set up and manage 530 kilometres of the Green Network®, which is a hiking, horse riding and mountain biking route developed and maintained by the Department.