FRANCE

The Maurienne valley in the French Northern Alps was chosen for its diversity of land use activities, i.e., conservation, farming, tourism, hydro and the range of social, economic, political, and environmental pressures it faces. It presents an emblematic example of an area where competing priorities such as environmental protection and economic livelihoods meet directly at the interface of human society and nature- the cultural landscape and its use.

Maurienne is the largest intra-alpine valley in France with a length of 120 km and an average altitude of 2000 m. It is located in the Savoie department and is home to about 40,000 inhabitants. As everywhere in the Alps, the valley has a strong agro-pastoral history which has led to the creation of the current landscape of the valley, characterized by a mosaic of Alpine pastures, meadows and forests.

The valley has undergone major changes over the last few centuries: first of all, there has been extensive industrialization since the end of the 18th century due to the development of hydroelectricity in the area.  Then, at the end of the 20th century, a decline in industrial activities and a strong tourist development with the construction of numerous ski resorts. Today, the agro-pastoral system is maintained by the establishment of a low input, high quality, cattle cheese “Beaufort”. This cheese carries the “protected designation of origin” (PDO) label of the European Union.  

There are many dynamic interactions between the agro-pastoral system and the tourism system.  The maintenance of the open landscape by pastoralism reinforces landscape beauty, while the seasonal employment opportunities of the tourism sector provide an additional income for farmers. Further the local cheese producing cooperatives benefit from the regular inflow of tourists as a relevant key market.

Maurienne

The management of the many risks inherent to mountain areas and the way in which the valley's ecosystems help to reduce them is also of crucial importance for the valley.

Our study proposes to understand how nature's contributions to people have helped to sustain value-producing subsystems in the valley. Our analysis aims, to analyze the transformations that may have taken place on our site between the 1950s and today through by studying the landscape evolution. Second, we compare the changes in quality and quantity of NCP provided by the ecosystems between the 1950s and today.

 

Based on our understanding of the past we propose future scenarios for the valley by modelling the possible consequences of climate change on the socio-ecosystems of the valley. Further we examine the role of society in the co-production of these NCP by taking into the account the historical legacies. By qualitatively analyzing associated actors dynamics we strive to understand the current governance of NCP –co-production.

Source: Bruley et al., forthcoming

Trajectories of Social-Ecological Systems in Latin American Watersheds

Research project ANR-CONACYT