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Pombonne : a park to reconnect with natu

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Reconnecting with nature
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NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS AWARDS: existing completed examples
Project title
Pombonne : a park to reconnect with natu
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Pombonne is an original public landscaped park in Bergerac, designed as a mosaic of natural spaces and habitats to connect the people to a more natural environment. Its facilities combined with the ecological and sustainable management of the site and the creation of events and mediation workshops, have led to a multidimensional approach to the natural heritage of this unique park, based on affect, knowledge, citizen participation and transmission.

What was the geographical scope of your project?
Does your project address mainly urban or rural issues?
Mainly urban
Does your project refer to a physical transformation of the built environment or other types of transformations?
It refers to a physical transformation of the built environment ('hard investment')
Has your project benefited from EU programmes or funds?
Has your project won an EU prize?
Your project is fully completed?
When was your project implemented?
How did you hear about the New European Bauhaus Prizes ?
On whose behalf are you submitting the application?
As a representative of an organisation
Please provide a summary of your project

In 2000, an original public landscaped park was created in Bergerac, covering some fifty hectares, to replace vast fields dedicated to intensive monoculture cereals. The peri-urban agricultural plain of Pombonne will be transformed into a mosaic of natural spaces to connect the people to a more natural environment.

After planting numerous trees and shrubs, creating two ponds, one of which entirely dedicated to nature protection, reclassifying areas of meadowland, restoring several sections of stream, developing copses, hedges and borders and creating several dewponds, the site has become a real resource centre for biodiversity. The mosaic effect has favoured the development of diversified habitats to numerous plant and animal species, often ordinary but sometimes rare and threatened.
The Pombonne Park is open to the public all year round and for free. It combines eco-responsible leisure activities with educational and scientific activities highlighting the wild fauna and flora to raise people awareness of the need to save the biodiversity.

The creation of areas and facilities based on participatory works with associations, schools and families has contributed to the protection, restoration and regeneration of natural ecosystems, while promoting social inclusion in collective and sustainable projects.This is how a large nature interpretation trail, an educational pond, several eco-construction wildlife observatories (earth-straw-wood), a large agroforestry and permaculture learning garden, two educational land areas and a small nursery of local seeds were implemented in this park.

The actions developed in Pombonne create a feeling or experience of belonging to nature, a responsible awareness of the protection of our natural resources for the preservation of our living environment and that of future generations. As a privileged meeting place, the park has become over the years a source of solidarity between generations, activities, nature and environment.

Please indicate the main themes of your project with 5 key words
Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of sustainability (including circularity) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

From the outset, Pombonne Park was conceived as a sustainable park, a real green lung in the north of the city, whose objective was to reconnect the people of Bergerac with nature.The park's development was carried out using the site's materials (earthworks, using limestone gravel for the paths) and without cutting down any trees. Nearly 3,500 trees and more than 5,000 shrubs were planted, using native forest species, inspired by the surrounding hillsides. Several ponds were rehabilitated or created and two water bodies were created. Although the lakes had an impact on the time required for the construction work, they were designed in such a way as to multiply the aquatic ecosystems, in particular the southernmost water body, which is entirely dedicated to nature and acts as a biodiversity reserve. The second, further north, is dedicated to natural swimming and no-kill fishing. Floating gear is prohibited. The maintenance of the park is based on a highly selective and ecological management system (zero phyto, water saving, prior reconnaissance, late mowing, extensive eco-grassing). This responsible maintenance approach has served as a showcase for the redeployment of these techniques in other sectors of the city (maintenance of the banks of the Dordogne River by sheep, generalisation of the abandonment of phytosanitary products before the regulatory obligations). More broadly, this urban green lung has generated real benefits in terms of improving the living environment of the inhabitants and in terms of ecosystem services rendered, particularly due to massive replanting (improvement of air quality, carbon storage, water infiltration, etc.) and renaturation of this wetland. As a result, this "environmental mosaic" park has encouraged the development of diversified habitats, which are now home to numerous plant and animal species, some of which are rare threatened with extinction (European Pond terrapin, White-throated dipper, Spotted Salamander, Orchids, etc.)

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

The aesthetic dimension of the Pombonne project is undeniable. In contrast to the monotony of ploughing and intensive cultivation, today's landscape, requalified by man and nature, offers paintings of exceptional colours throughout the seasons. The winter frosts, the spring and summer blooms, the autumn foliage, but also the sunrises and sunsets and the floral or animal surprises within the various spaces constitute privileged encounters that express the beauty of nature that we would like to immortalise.

The renaturation of the site by man was lead progressively over more than ten years. For some years now, Mother Nature has taken over, becoming more and more productive, more and more creative. Wild orchids, which were never planted, have thus become very present in the park. The environment has diversified, become productive and enriched.

In this sense, it could be described as an experimental park: the restoration and even creation of different natural environments, the responsible use of the site, the laws of natural evolution and time have shown that this project is a positive and reproducible experiment.

Please give information about the key objectives of your project in terms of inclusion (equal opportunities, public participation, citizen engagement, co-design, universal design, accessibility, affordability, etc.) and how these have been met.
Please highlight how the project can be exemplary in this context

In order to allow everyone to benefit from the park and to raise awareness of the discovery and protection of nature, the Pombonne park is free. In the park, users are accompanied by a range of aids to improve their knowledge of nature : interpretation trails, observatories, etc.

The park acts as an educational, technical and scientific resource centre. Numerous actions have been set up to enable public participation and co-design projects of collective interest:

- Educational land workshops: in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO), two areas of the park (the big garden and the natural water body) are used by schools to develop projects to protect biodiversity.

- The big garden, co-constructed with the Heliantis Humanis association, mobilises the residents to learn about responsible gardening. Inspired by agroecology and permaculture, it is a place to explore all the possibilities in terms of natural gardening. It offers a traditional organic garden (test garden for self-sufficiency in food for a family of 4), a medicinal garden, a forest garden, a water garden, a "lazy man's garden" and a permaculture garden.

- The collection greenhouse and nurseries : located next to the big garden, they are part of this large mediation complex. Exotic plants are compared to the wild plants of the park and allow the public to become aware of the different species present on the planet.

- The 4 observatories in the park were created by young people during international solidarity workcamps and by people who had dropped out of school and work. The last of them was designed in clay and lime (super adobe).

- The Arboretum area is dedicated to the knowledge of the trees in the park and allows everyone to identify the local natural species.

- The maintenance of the park involves high school students (learning selective site maintenance) and integration companies (eco-pasturing and rearrangement of banks, etc.).

Please explain how these three dimensions have been combined in your project.
Please highlight how this approach can be exemplary

Aesthetics allow for inclusion. Indeed, the park's landscape aspect makes it attractive and makes it possible to mobilise the various actors and users of the park, and even the population in general, on the interest of designing sustainable urban developments as well as on the challenges of protecting nature and biodiversity.

The quality of the landscape makes people aware of the great biological diversity that surrounds us, but also of its fragility, its usefulness and the urgent need to protect and conserve it for ourselves and for those who will succeed us. It conveys notions of ecology and raises awareness of responsible behaviour. The exemplary nature of the site encourages eco-citizenship and the implementation of similar projects in other parts of the city.

Please give information on the results/impacts achieved by your project in relation to the category you apply for

The number of visitors to the park continues to grow year after year: Pombonne has become a place where the people of Bergerac can go for a walk all year round and is very popular in the summer, particularly thanks to the lake dedicated to swimming (it is still not possible to swim in the Dordogne River).

The school community has completely taken over the site, so much so that the town has created additional jobs to develop mediation around issues of biodiversity and sustainable development.

Local and national associations are involved in the development of the site, which is proving to be an important testing ground: creation of new thematic interpretation trails, forest arboretum, flowering labyrinth, educational pond, ornithological trail, touch tank, unwanted plants circuit.

The site has become a reference for the LPO as well as an active research centre (ornithological and botanical inventories, specific tree worshops, etc.).

Please explain how citizens and civil society were involved in the in the design and/or implementation of the project.
Please also explain the benefits that derived from their involvement.

The Pombonne Park is exemplary in terms of citizen participation.

The initial project was designed by and for the inhabitants: it was the result of collective reflection and participatory workshops.

The project began with the reforestation of the site and was launched with the "one baby, one tree" operation. A thousand trees were planted with the families of Bergerac.

All of the park's landscaping was also carried out with vocational high schools and through educational workcamps. Other examples: the vegetation of the ponds and some flowered areas planted by the schoolchildren ; the big garden, co-constructed with local associations; the health trail (active design), created with rehabilitation centres and structures working on disabilities; or the wooden games, thought out and designed with the young people of the municipal youth council (apparatus, zip line and games to improve psychomotricity).

The benefits are manifold: the site has been appropriated by the families (sponsorship of the trees) and the design and creation of elements in the park by the population has helped to develop a collective global awareness of sustainable development.

Please explain what kind of global challenges the project addressed by providing local solutions

On its own scale, the project has made it possible to respond to the major global challenges linked to the preservation of our ecosystems: decarbonisation, biodiversity, inclusion of inhabitants in the life of their city, preservation of wetlands, limitation of intensive agriculture, knowledge, permaculture and food self-sufficiency, return of nature into the cities.

It has also allowed us to give future generations a place of quality and added value compared to what it was before. What benefits!

Please highlight the innovative character of the project as compared to mainstream practices in the field of the project.

This project, initiated 20 years ago, was very innovative at the time because it was based on renaturation and experimentation. This project philosophy continues, with the growing development of the park, which will soon host a new nursery. This nursery aim is to produce local seeds and plants in order to perpetuate the local wild flora. A seed library will allow the storage and exchange of local seeds between hosts and collectors. Theses plants and seeds will be reused to develop other sites in the city, such as the Caudeau green corridor (restoration of a biological corridor linking the Pombonne park to the Dordogne River : green, blue and black framework).

Please explain to the potential of transferring the projects’ results or learnings to other interested parties and contexts.
Please provide clear documentation, communication of methodology and principles in this context.

It is possible to replicate projects of this type in other territories. There are several lessons to be learned:

- start from the expectations of the citizens,

- co-construct developments using local resources (natural and human) to involve the population, especially young people,

- take advantage of a development project to educate people about biodiversity and the environment,

- communicate regularly (via social networks in particular) on the life of the park (new species, births of lambs in the context of eco-nursing, etc.) and projects (the big garden) in order to create a feeling of belonging and to popularise scientific knowledge

- let nature do its thing and trust it!

This project will be presented in a forum of twinned towns organised by the town of Bergerac (it will involve the towns of Faenza (Italy), Ostrow-Wielkopolski (Poland), Hohen-Neuendorf (Germany), Repentigny (Canada) and Kénitra (Morocco).

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