4,853 km
480,104 km2

Northern France shares a coastline with the English channel and the Atlantic ocean where as Southern France leads on to the Mediterranean Sea resulting in a range of different birds inhabiting these two different areas. The waters around France support rare species such as the Yelkouan Shearwater (VU) in the Mediterranean and the Balearic Shearwater (CR) off both costs. Other priority species including the Audouin's Gull (NT), Slender-billed Gull (LC), Cory's Shearwater (LC), Common Tern (LC), Little Tern (LC) , Sandwich Tern (LC) and Mediterranean subspecies of european Shag (LC). In 2007 the National Agency of Marine Protected Areas contracted BirdLife's French partner, LPO, to identify marine IBAs in order to designate them as SPAs. Data from boat and aerial surveys in the Bay of Biscay (2001-2002), data about foraging areas around breeding colonies and data on the coastal staging locations of Cory's Shearwaters and Balearic Shearwaters have been exploited in this study. Further programmes (FAME conducted by LPO, PACOMM conducted by Agency of MPA) are currently running in order to document existing SPAs and designate further SPAs, especially offshore. Today LPO also co-ordinates coastal seabird censuses, participates in seabird colony monitoring and
coordiantes a network of conservation NGOs who contribute to SPA monitoring: mostly of breeding colony and major migratory sites.

Key threats to French seabirds need further assessment, but include:
o Habitat loss through development of human activities at sea and on land
o Fisheries (interaction with fishing gear, bycatch, overfishing)
o Climate change (change in resource distribution)
o Pollution (oil spill, plastic waste, pollutants)
o Introduced species

National priorities
o Collect more data to identify and document off-shore marine IBAs which meet criteria of international importance.
o Collect more data on existing IBAS identified through the Interreg Atlantic IV project on the Future of the Atlantic Marine Environment.
o Development of more effective management plans for existing and future SPAS.
o Monitoring of seabird population at marine SPAs.
o Analysis of threats at marine sites.
o Lobby for a better designation level of marine IBAs, notably in the Mediterranean sea.
o Strengthen international cooperation on marine IBAs which extend into Spanish, Italian and North African waters, especially for sheawaters.
o Better harmonization of protocols and data format to facilitate data sharing.

Government's support/relevant policy
A European Commission assessment of the marine SPA network in France concluded it was largely incomplete. Unfortunately as of March 2010 the French Ministry of Environment does not consider IBA criteria scientifically sound for use in identifying marine SPAs.
LPO expertise suggests further designation is needed based on already identified IBAs, and that precise data is missing for a few SPAs. Moreover management in some SPAs can also be improved, in particular incorporation of biological requirements of trigger species into management plans. However, since the designation and management of the marine sites is under the authority of Agency of MPAs the work of LPO on marine IBAs will depend upon the MoU with Agency of MPA. Please see policy tab for list of agreements that this country is party to.

Petrels and shearwaters

Gulls and terns
Ducks, geese and swans

IUCN Red List Status

9 (22nd)
15% (43rd)

The numbers in brackets refer to the country's rank when compared to other countries and territories globally.

o Deceuninck B. and Micol T. (2008). Identification des sites marins prioritaires pour les oiseaux marins et les oiseaux d'eau. LPO
o Cadiou B., Pons J-M. and Y

France at a glance

Land area

643,801 km2

BirdLife Partner

Ligue Pour La Protection des Oiseaux


Total number of birds 359
Globally threatened birds 19
Country endemics 1

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas

Number of IBAs 275
Total IBA area 100,768 km2
IBA area as % of land area 16%

Endemic Bird Areas

Number of EBAs 1

Recommended Citation
BirdLife International (2023) Country profile: France. Downloaded from on 03/10/2023.