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Environmental Zoning and Urban Development: Natural Regional Parks in France


  • Julien Salanié

    (Jean Monnet University, Saint-Etienne)

  • Thomas Coisnon

    (AgroCampus Ouest, Rennes)


This study provides an empirical analysis of the effects of environmental zoning on urban development. It focuses on the case of Natural Regional Parks (NRPs) in France. Of the environmental zoning instruments used in France, NRPs extend over the widest physical area. The analysis uses a quasi-experimental empirical approach (difference-in-differences) to evaluate the effects of NRPs on urban development at the municipality level. Three potential side-effects of NRPs on urban development in the regulated area are investigated. First, the long-term effects of environmental zoning on housing and population flows are analysed using French National Census data in the period from 1968-2011. Second, annual data on building permits granted in the period from 2003-2012 are used to estimate the short-term effects of NRPs on housing supply. Finally, the effects of NRPs on land-use in the regulated area using high-resolution geospatial data are evaluated. The results of the empirical analysis reveal that NRPs have had heterogeneous effects on urban development in regulated areas. Compared to development in neighbouring areas, some NRPs have discouraged urban development in the regulated area, in line with their intended objectives. However, in other cases NRPs have actually favoured urban development. In most cases, however, the policy had no significant effect on urban development within the regulated area.

Suggested Citation

  • Julien Salanié & Thomas Coisnon, 2016. "Environmental Zoning and Urban Development: Natural Regional Parks in France," OECD Environment Working Papers 110, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:envaaa:110-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5jlsk97vpwtd-en

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    Environmental zoning; Natural regional parks; urban development;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land
    • Q26 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Recreational Aspects of Natural Resources
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns

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