Soutenance de thèse: Emmanuel Faure

PhD defense: Emmanuel Faure

Faune sauvage et paysages dans les Alpes françaises : convoquer le réensauvagement pour penser les dynamiques socio-écologiques

Emmanuel Faure, sous la direction de Sandra Lavorel et Harold Levrel

15 décembre

À 14h dans la salle de conférences Écrins d’INRAE Grenoble (2 rue de la papeterie, Gières


For several decades, the expansion of wild ungulates and carnivores in the French Alps has coincided with the extension of forest cover onto land dedicated to pastoralism. In parallel, the emergence of “rewilding” within conservation questions the management of social- ecological systems: could this trajectory represent an opportunity to restore ecosystems with little human intervention?

During my PhD, I first mapped and quantified several indicators of this “passive rewilding” in the French Alps, and undermined their climatic and anthropogenic predictors through multivariate statistical models. Our results highlight the role of climate change and trophic relationships in the expansion of wildlife at high altitude, exceeding by far the impact of the human footprint, over the period 1996-2012.

I then focused on the pre-Alpine massif of the Bauges (73, 74), where a historical abundance of wild ungulates combines with the development of outdoor activities coming from proximate urban centers. Through a joint work with the Regional Natural Park and the French Office of Biodiversity, I modeled the trajectory of the herbivory feedback between chamois and vegetation by 2050, following several scenarios of disturbance by tourism and urbanization, and harvest choices for plants (forestry, pastoralism) and animals (hunting, predation by wolf).

In a final chapter, I examine the economic dimension of rewilding by conducting a systematic review of the associated scientific literature (257 articles in English). This literature is far from negligible; yet, it proves to be extremely disparate in the nature and depth of the economic analyses. I diagnose the causes of this treatment, and point several research avenues that could help rewilding scale up.

After exposing the conceptual tenants of rewilding, I draw on these complementary chapters to discuss to what extent the rewilding concept can apply to the trajectories studied in the French Alps. Eventually, I elaborate on the role of public policies in the coexistence between wildlife, human activities and the evolution of mountain landscapes.

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