Our expertise helps public and private players in their decision-making. How do they measure the impact of a project on nature, monitor the quality of bathing water, ensure the sustainability of fish caught, or even insure a property? The Museum provides them with answers...
The State, local authorities and even private companies call on us to find out about the condition of nature, to learn how to preserve and restore it in the areas they administer or the land they manage, in mainland France and overseas. For four French regions (Centre, Champagne-Ardenne, Burgundy, Île-de-France), we rely heavily on data from the National Botanical Conservatory of the Paris Basin (CBNBP), which has been inventorying the wild flora as well as the natural and semi-natural habitats within these areas since the 1990s. It now has more than 8 million pieces of data from field observations and continues to add to them. The conservatory has become a key player in legal disputes and even in criminal cases. It has been called upon to identify a branch at a crime scene!
The fire brigade also has recourse to our expertise. Called to the rescue in a garden in the Paris region after receiving reports that a snake more than one metre long had been sighted, they had to identify the species concerned before releasing it. A few clicks and a photo given to one of our specialists at the Parc zoologique de Paris (Paris Zoological Park) allowed them to make the analysis. The reptile was a North American snake. Although not dangerous to humans, this illegally introduced exotic specimen could not remain in the wild because of the risk of invasion. It was placed with a breeder who is qualified to keep these animals in captivity.
As far as species conservation is concerned, we go so far as to recommend fishing quotas in the southern seas. Toothfish and lobsters are very popular dishes, at the risk of being overfished. Rest assured, we are watching over them. Our scientists observe, measure and evaluate the populations at sea using various means in order to issue recommendations to the fishing companies. They even monitor catches on board to preserve these resources. However, orcas and sperm whales should not get involved! In the wake of the trawlers, they can easily taste the fish on the lines. This 'fast food' of the sea is a major concern for researchers. What if these large mammals end up losing their 'natural behaviour'? Often, one expert study often calls for another...
Managers of aquatic, freshwater or coastal environments can also call on us. Their problem: choosing the monitoring methods to be put in place to ensure water quality and preserve the biodiversity that it harbours. The Museum's researchers have been working for several years on the functioning of aquatic ecosystems in relation to human activities. Their programme also includes controlling the development of toxin-producing cyanobacteria, which are responsible for irritation, pain and diarrhoea in bathers.
Lastly, in the context of development projects or strategies, private organisations are increasingly calling on us. This is the case for insurance companies who wish to better evaluate certain risks. For example, an expert report was conducted in partnership with the SCOR Foundation for Science on the erosion of biodiversity. Imagine, for example, a house located along a tropical coastline exposed to devastating storms. Coral reefs and mangroves provide protection from the waves and wind, but if these are gradually lost, there is a greater risk that the house will be wiped off the map. Other missions concern the preservation of biodiversity in the context of golf courses, quarries, airports, or even sites where gas pipelines pass.
The Museum is therefore involved in civil society. More than ever, the preservation of our environment needs all our energies!