Within the Gorges du Gardon BR, there are 8 more or less developed canoeing sites, that were built without authorization, despite the designated area and water legislation. More than 1,000 canoes belonging to 5 professionals paddle in the gorges. Most of the trips are 8 km long, departing from Collias, and arriving downstream of the Pont du Gard. On peak days, there are nearly 3,000 boats on this part of the river.
A study of the issues related to canoeing and kayaking sites has been launched by the BR, in order to create good conditions for leisure activities on the river during summer, while respecting the environment.
Through this study, the BR has been able to:
- Identify the access points for canoeing activities, as well as their advantages and drawbacks (land control, regulatory framework, conflict over use, ecologically fragile areas)
- Ensure user safety and reduce poor-quality facilities
- Contribute to the economic and touristic development of the BR
A diagnosis of the organisation of river activities and their functioning was carried out in close cooperation with multiple partners (rental companies, French canoe and kayak federation, elected officials, local and regional authorities, inspector of the Gard designated areas).
Some on-site evaluations have shown the impacts caused by rental companies on landscapes and riverbank maintenance, which led to proposals to change their organisation, including the development or removal of some jetties.
Participatory local governance will be implemented to work on pedagogical information, sailing conditions and ecological issues. This could take the form of navigating scales according to river level and flow, the creation of no-stop zones around ecologically sensitive sites, etc., as well as training for rental companies and their staff in direct contact with customers on the ecological challenges and benefits of the gorges, so that they can fully understand their role as eco-actors in the area.