Workforce development for a conservatory orchard

Parc National de Port-Cros (Port Cros National Park) is acquiring the specialized tools it needs for the activities of a workforce development project managing and enhancing the collections of fruit trees of the conservatory orchard of the island of Porquerolles.
Parc national de Port Cros

Environment and Biodiversity

Porquerolles, France

Paul-Émile Roblez

€15,000 to the Selection Committee at 2014/10/17

Project leader

Parc national de Port Cros

"The Copains project is run in an area where Veolia Water is very active, running the Porquerolles pollution control station via an innovative lagooning system that irrigates the Conservatoire du Littoral plots where the project is located. The Foundation's participation will also help enlist employees in the project by providing their skills."

Paul-Émile Roblez

Parc National de Port-Cros, created in 1963, is a public administrative entity that specializes in managing protected species and welcoming the public on the islands of Port Cros and Porquerolles, including their marine fringe up to a distance of 600 meters, as well as a number of natural spaces acquired by the Conservatoire du Littoral on the Giens Peninsula and at Cape Lardier, together with the communes.

A major challenge for the future

As part of its societal commitment, Parc National de Port-Cros is developing a new workforce development project aimed at reconciling human presence, conservation, and the enhancement of a unique natural and scientific heritage: more than 150 varieties of olive trees, particularly representative of the olive heritage of France, Italy and Spain, 312 varieties of fig trees including 102 genotypes originating throughout the Mediterranean basin, and 50 varieties of mulberry from across the world. This set of conservatory orchards, a score of hectares large, is located on the island of Porquerolles, and constitutes a common baseline of the living heritage, a genetic capital, and a basic research laboratory.

Conserving this unique genetic heritage is a major challenge for the future: the maintenance of the genetic heritage of heirloom species represents the only solution for obtaining new varieties adapted to the new circumstances, particularly faced with climatic upheavals.

These collections of heirloom varieties of Mediterranean fruit trees also offer a splendid opportunity for workforce development with the acquisition of knowhow, the enrichment of experience, and involvement in the life of the territory, its memory and its tradition.

Three partners for a comprehensive open-ended project

Parc National de Port-Cros, the landowner/developer, Conservatoire Botanique Méditerranéen, historically responsible for the assemblage and tracking of the collections, and Association Sauvegarde des Forêts varoises (ASDFV), the operator of the workforce development projects, have joined hands to set up the "Copains (Buddies)" project. It provides a workforce development program for long-term jobseekers, via the upkeep and operation of the orchards of Porquerolles. The project also aims to enhance the unique heritage and open it up for discovery by the flood of tourists. The use of these organic crops as supports for processed products (olive oil, preserves, etc.) is also planned. Their marketing will benefit the cash flow and self-sustainability of the activity. This will enable the beneficiaries to acquire new expertise and reinforce the skills and professional character of the proposed back-to-work program.

Ambitions at once social, environmental and naturalist

Back-to-work employees are recruited in partnership with the national employment agency Pôle Emploi, the General Council of the Var District, and the local missions. This prioritizes adult candidates living in the employment area of Hyères and the potential area adjoining the national park, and having problems finding a job (welfare recipients, unskilled youth, inhabitants of disadvantaged neighborhoods, etc.). Eight back-to-work positions are open, serving to accommodate and train 10 to 12 persons per year, or 50 to 60 over five years.

Organic farming of the fruit trees also enables the project to join the Réseau Cocagne (organic farming network) with the "Cocagne Innovation" label, which guarantees its methodological, social, environmental and economic quality. Located in a vulnerable area, featuring an exceptional biodiversity, the project includes an environmental education aspect for the teams that can themselves inform the many visitors.

Workforce development for a conservatory orchard

Alongside Fondation du Patrimoine, Fonds Agir pour l'Emploi, TLV and the regional council of Provence Alpes Côted'Azur, the Veolia Foundation is sharing in the investments needed by the project (farming equipment and tools, irrigation systems, furnishing of the premises).