46 years after the 1960 law founding National Parks in France, a new law was passed in April 2006. The implementation order for this law, published in July 2006, renamed and redefined the notions of Central Zones and Peripheral Zones, which are now known as Core Areas and Buffer Zones respectively. These areas can be found in each of the National Parks. As before, these areas are subject to special measures to ensure the protection of the natural heritage and diverse physical environments within their boundaries. In addition, cultural and landscape heritage is now also taken into account.
The Vanoise National Park can accordingly be divided into two distinct zones: the Core Area (former Central Zone) and the Buffer Zone (former Peripheral Zone), which together cover those municipalities that are signatories to the National Park’s charter. This charter is a useful tool for the National Parks, as it constitutes a plan of solidarity between the Core Area and the surrounding areas. It defines the tasks and missions associated with each of the two zones.
What is the Core Area?
The Core Area of the Vanoise National Park covers an area of 528.39 km². In this zone, the emphasis is placed on preserving the natural environment and educating the public. Human activity is strictly regulated. There are no permanent inhabitants in the Core Area of the Vanoise National Park.
The Core Area plays a role in the protection of natural, cultural and landscape heritage; it is in this zone that National Park regulations and associated procedures are applied.
What is the Buffer Zone?
This is a demarcated zone around the Core Area that incorporates a number of municipalities. In the case of the Vanoise National Park, this zone extends over 28 municipalities. Its responsibilities include:
- highlighting the natural and cultural richness of the local area,
- enhancing activities associated with agriculture and tourism,
- generating interest in the area, and informing and educating the public.
The Buffer Zone plays a role in implementing measures to ensure the protection, promotion and sustainable development of the National Park.
Saint-Bon Courchevel: one of the Park’s municipalities
Saint-Bon Courchevel is one of the 28 municipalities in the Vanoise National Park, situated partly in the Core Area (former Central Zone) and partly in the Buffer Zone (former Peripheral Zone). The Core Area, a protected zone, covers 8% of the municipality’s land area. It is bounded by four mountain passes ("cols"): Col de la Platta, Col de Chanrouge, Col du Fruit and Col de Chanrossa. The remaining 92% of the municipality is part of the surrounding Buffer Zone.
The Vanoise National Park is also home to 5 nature reserves. Four of them are managed by the Park Authority, while the last is managed by the ONF (the French forestry commission). They are all situated on the edge of the Park’s Core Area in order to preserve the diversity of the natural environments present in the Vanoise.