On 27 January 2017, the French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) and the French Golf Federation (FFG), who have enjoyed a ten-year partnership, met in Paris with contributing organisations to discuss the National Biodiversity Study of French golf courses, which was launched in 2016. This first steering committee meeting reviewed the first year’s results from the study as well as the 2017 objectives, in a project that will run before, during and after the Ryder Cup 2018. The golf stakeholders at this meeting were The R&A, the European Tour, the Vidauban Golf Club Corporate Foundation, the French club managers, maintenance staff, and associative clubs and entrepreneurs’ associations.
Golf occupies an overall surface of 30,000 ha in France. The partnership’s target, long-term, is to implement a biodiversity action programme for golf managers and to raise awareness among club members and golf players.
Jean-Philippe Siblet, Director of the Centre of Expertise and Data on Nature at the MNHN, stated, “Human activities and nature can live together. In France, we have got quite a relatively low threshold of preserved natural areas. In addition, the existing preservation strategy under process is not sufficient and has to be fostered even further if we want to stop the erosion of biodiversity”.
The programme will assess existing biodiversity, placing golf in the context of national mapping. Aurélie Lacoeuilhe, Project Manager in Ecology at the MNHN explained, “The project will detail the various contexts, urban, agricultural, woodlands, etc, surrounding French golf courses, improve the knowledge about existing rare or protected species and identify the environmental challenges which are at stake on each course”.
This biodiversity support programme has already been implemented at Le Golf National at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, the venue for the Ryder Cup 2018.
A scientific tool that will be used to assess the health status of a golf course’s biodiversity, the Ecological Quality Index (IQE), was introduced at the meeting by Océane Roquinarc’h, naturalist at the MNHN. This index was used at Vidauban golf course in 2014 and more recently in 2016 at Le Golf National, where 351 different plants and animals were inventoried including some protected, threatened or rare species.