Vieux Salins of Hyères

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The site of the Vieux Salins was purchased by the Conservatoire du Littoral in 2001. The protected area covers 365 hectares (900 acres), which makes it a major protected natural area in the Bay of Hyères. With the Salin des Pesquiers, it is a testimony to the ancient salt farming activity which represented a pillar of the development of the harbour of Hyères. The governance of the site is animated by the Conservatoire and its partners (the Urban Community Toulon-Provence-Mediterranean (TPM), the municipality of Hyères and the National Park of Port-Cros.

The current management plan organizes a hydraulic management of the site similar to the functioning of the old salt works, in order to preserve the ecological and ornithological qualities of the site. However, this configuration is challenged by several phenomena including the erosion of the dune bar in the south: coastline retreat, disappearance of the Aleppo pines and shaded areas, erosion of the beach, threats on the hydraulic structures of the site.

The rip-rap revetment on a part of the site limit erosion locally but it disturbs the hydro-sedimentary process in the bay.

Studies conducted by BRGM and the University of Aix-Marseille have shown that this coastal wetland is a favourable place for the implementation of adaptive management actions of the coastline and natural areas such as the demolition on the rip-rap in a perspective of regeneration.

In 2017, following a first phase of demolition on a stretch of 100 meters at the western end of the structure, the site manager TPM launched a study for the definition of a coastline management strategy (Artelia). This study analyses the following solutions:

  • a protection scenario (hard engineering management with dykes…),
  • a scenario to accompany the evolution of the site according to the risks,
  • a coastline regeneration scenario with a natural readjustment,
  • a non-intervention scenario.

The works and the project for this site are part of two projects with financial support by the European Union: Marittimo (Franco-Italian Interreg 2017-2019) and adapto (2017-2021).

Project for the site

The overall project is to restore a natural dynamic to the dune-beach system that connects the sea and the wetland. The plan is to demolish the rip-rap structure and readjust the hydraulic structure and the access according to the evolutions of the environment.

The adapto project will focus on organizing the actions following the structuring works carried out within the framework of Marittimo (demolition of the rip-rap). It will consist in restoring the continuity of the coastal path and following the evolution of the lagoon ecosystem, including the posidonia meadow that fringes the beach.

More generally, the project will develop actions towards users, inhabitants and elected officials in order to clarify the misunderstandings entailed by the unstable situation, and to plan with them the future evolutions.

Site chronicle

February 2019: Choice of a contractor for the footpath construction and for the rehabilitation of the dune bar and the demolition of the rip-rap revetment.

April 2019: Exhibition on the project carried out as part of the pedagogical action of the CPIE Côte Provençale.

Timeline

Middle Ages From the 13th to the 15th century, the Salins of Hyères supplied salt to Provence and the south of Italy.
1856 The Salins, until then exploited by many salt farmers, were bought by the Compagnie des Salins du Midi.
1967 The Compagnie des Salins du Midi bought the site of the Salins des Pesquiers and stopped the exploitation of the Vieux Salins. The site was briefly reused, but salt production completely ceased in 1995.
2001 Purchase of the Vieux Salins by the Conservatoire du littoral.
2004

Definition and implementation of a management plan for the two former salt farms of Hyères with the aim of regenerating these former industrial sites.

2004-2017

Preliminary works to Marittimo and adapto projects, coastline retreat and demolition of the rip-rap on a stretch of 100 meters.

2017 Launch of adapto and Marittimo projects.
Early 2017 Launch of the public procurement procedure for the conduction of the study and notification of the consultant ARTELIA by TPM in May 2017.
6th July 2017 Steering committee of the first study.
February 2018

Upon elected officials’s request, a joint decision is made by TPM and the Conservatoire du littoral:
- dismantle only the western part of the rip-rap in order to avoid the breach in the coastline in the most strategic sector of the Salins (feeding channel) with a risk of rising water in the village of Salins;
- maintain the rip-rap to the east to stabilize the outlet of the Gargatte canal.

Spring-summer 2018

Application for regulatory procedures:
- case by case file sent to the  National Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CGEDD) within the French Ministry for Environment.
- law on water declaration,
- protected site file, Natura 2000 impact study, authorization to carry out work on maritime public property.

13th July 2018 The CGEDD concluded on a positive impact of the post-construction regeneration project and does not subject it to an environmental assessment.
September 2018 During the site commission at the Préfecture of Toulon, the examination of the project was postponed because of too much disagreement.
19th December 2018 The project was finally examined in the presence of the mayors of Hyères and La Londe. Thanks to a pedagogical work of the DREAL and a presentation in committee by the PACA Region delegation, the project received a favourable opinion and the works were authorized. The stretch of rip-rap to be demolished was reduced to 250 meters.
February 2019 Reception of a petition against the demolition of the rip-rap of the Vieux Salins of Hyères (50 signatures).
April 2019 Start of coastal restoration works
13 avril 2019 Présentation de l’exposition du CPIE et découverte du chantier de renaturation du site en présence d’une trentaine de personnes.
13 avril 2019 - Visite du chantier des Vieux Salins d'Hyères
09 mai 2019

13 avril 2019 - Visite du chantier des Vieux Salins d'Hyères

Découverte du chantier de renaturation des Vieux Salins d’Hyères.

Vieux Salins of Hyères in pictures

Vieux Salins of Hyères in pictures

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