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Article: Protecting old forests

Protéger les vieilles forêts
News d'EDELI

Protecting old forests

One of the key eco-friendly commitments of the EDELI brand is to donate 1% of our sales to contribute to the protection of the great outdoors.

For all runners, the great outdoors are the ideal playground for running and trail running. That's why it has always seemed logical to us to want to protect them. And one concrete way of doing this is to invest 1% of our sales in projects aimed at preserving natural areas.

We decided to join the 1% for the Planet association right at the start of the EDELI SPORTS adventure. However, the question arose as to whether we should donate 1% to the association and let it decide how to use EDELI SPORTS' contribution to a specific project, or whether we ourselves should choose a meaningful project that was particularly appropriate for our brand and its philosophy and values. This search for a meaningful project led to our partnership with the Conservatory of natural areas in Auvergne and their project to protect old forests as part of the Sylvae programme.


Why this project to protect old forests?

First, the choice of a project to protect old forests seemed appropriate to us in more ways than one. Forests are one of the favourite places for runners. Running in the forest means being in contact and establishing a direct link with nature. When we run in the forest, we're surrounded by trees and vegetation, often on paths that are great for running and gentler on the joints than roads or tarmac.

The forest is also a precious ally in the fight against global warming, since trees play a major role as carbon sinks. Through the process of photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce oxygen. Carbon storage in forests happens in different places: more than half on the ground, around a third in the above-ground biomass and the rest in the below-ground biomass.

Contributing to the protection of old forests that play this natural role of carbon sinks seemed to us to be a great complementary action to our eco-friendly approach aiming to reduce our carbon footprint by producing in Europe. Reducing the carbon footprint associated with the production of our technical running clothing and protecting the natural carbon sinks that are forests are part of the same eco-friendly approach to protect the environment, albeit by different means.

Supporting the Conservatory of natural areas in Auvergne also enables us to forge a link with our brand's home region, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. For a first project supporting an association for the protection of the great outdoors, it seemed logical to start in our home region, even if it meant extending our support to other projects in other regions later.

Finally, we chose to support a programme to protect old forests because these mature forests, more than young forests, are reservoirs of biodiversity as well as being carbon sinks. In mature forests, there is a greater presence of dead wood. And many species depend on the presence of this dead wood. Old trees are also places of reproduction and shelter for many species.

In France, old forests (those that have existed for more than two hundred years, with a presence of old wood, large wood, and dead wood) represent less than 5% of the forested area in the mountains and less than 1% in the plains. It is therefore important and urgent to protect and preserve them.


What is the Sylvae forest protection programme?

The philosophy behind the Sylvae programme is quite simple. It involves acquiring plots of forest and leaving them to evolve freely. It is therefore essentially a programme for acquiring forest and protecting it (protection in the sense that no human intervention is carried out in the area) to allow the natural biological cycle of a forest to unfold. The natural biological cycle of a forest is counted in hundreds of years (from young seedlings to growing trees, mature trees, ageing trees, dead trees, and finally dead wood on the ground).

The Sylvae project originated in Auvergne and is now a national project of the network of Conservatories of natural areas. It is also part of an EU 2030 European strategy to protect Primary and Old Growth Forests.

At the end of December 2022, the Sylvae network in Auvergne covered 210 hectares of old growth forest.


What is the role of the Conservatories of natural areas ?

As we have chosen to establish a partnership with the Conservatory of natural areas in Auvergne, this article is also an opportunity to present the network of Conservatories of natural areas.

Let's start with a few figures: there are currently 23 Conservatories of natural areas and together they manage a network of 4,100 natural sites covering 270,000 hectares in France (metropolitan and overseas). The Conservatories of natural areas are not-for-profit associations. They have 1,100 employees and are grouped together in a national federation: the federation of Conservatories of natural areas.

The Conservatories of natural areas have defined 5 key missions for the entire network: knowing, protecting, managing, raising awareness and supporting.

- Knowing: scientific and technical expertise is one of the pillars of the work of the Conservatories of natural areas in partnership with the French Office for Biodiversity, National Botanical Conservatories, Regional Nature Parks, Nature Reserves, the National Forestry Office, naturalist associations, etc.

- Protecting: the protection of a site is essentially achieved through land control (acquisition of property, as in the Sylvae programme) and use control (through contracts with owners and management agreements). The network of Conservatories of natural areas is the leading network for the protection of natural environments in France.

- Managing: management objectives are defined according to the issues identified on each site and translated into concrete actions in site management plans validated by the Scientific Council. Management plans already exist for more than 3,000 sites.

- Raising awareness: the Conservatories of natural areas also have the task of raising public awareness of the risks and threats faced by natural areas and the species they host, for example through activities in schools or volunteer work to restore or manage sites.

- Supporting: supporting and coordinating public policies on biodiversity, water and agriculture are also part of the mission of the Conservatories of natural areas, to contribute to the sustainable development of these areas.

Taking part in the protection of old forests thanks to this partnership with the Conservatory of natural areas in Auvergne, not only makes us more aware of how lucky we are as runners to be able to run in the middle of nature, and especially in forests, but also allows us to make a concrete contribution to their protection and preservation.

We were looking for a meaningful project, in line with the philosophy of our brand and as runners. We've found it, and I hope we can make a lasting contribution to the development of the Sylvae programme.

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