Biodiversity 10 min

For a sustainable forest, achieve a balance between wildlife and forestry

Would you like to know more about big game animals living in French forests, and how to reconcile both forest management and the presence of deer, roe deer and wild boar populations? Two videos explain the secret life of these animals and the cooperation between foresters and hunters. These videos illustrate results from the ReForest research project (2016-2021)*: Ensure the renewal of forest resources by achieving a balance between silviculture and hunting objectives.

Published on 11 October 2022

illustration For a sustainable forest, achieve a balance between wildlife and forestry
© Mårell Anders / INRAE

Wild ungulates essential inhabitants of the forest!

Red deer, roe deer and wild boar are animals that live mainly in the forest. They are grouped under the name of wild ungulates. These animals play a key role in the ecosystem. They contribute both to the proper functioning of ecosystems and to the maintenance of biodiversity. The first video “Wild ungulates, the unknown engineers of our forests” shows how ungulates interact with their environment. By grazing the vegetation of the undergrowth, they can modify the vegetation composition of our forests. Through the modification of the vegetation, among other things, they also contribute to the flow of elements such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in the ecosystem. By transporting seeds in their fur or through the feces, ungulates also participate to seed dispersal. It is called zoochory when animals disperse seeds of plants. Wild ungulates are also prey, for example for large predators such as wolves and lynx. Finally, all these interactions between ungulates and their environment have consequences for other groups of animals such as ticks, insects and birds.

Balancing the presence of wild ungulates to ensure forest sustainability

The presence of wild ungulates in the natural environment is not without consequences for humans and society. Wild ungulates pose a risk to human health and activities: collisions with road and rail transport, diseases transmitted to domestic livestock and humans, damage to agricultural crops and young trees in the forest. However, they also participate to the economic development of rural areas, particularly in connection with hunting. In the second video “Integrated management of big game animals and forests: an issue that concerns us all”, we explain how to achieve a balance between positive and negative effects for the benefit of our society and nature. We take as an example the balance to achieve between silviculture and hunting activities. Silviculture contributes to the sustainable management of forests: once the mature trees have been exploited, the owner has an obligation to renew the forest. During the renewal phase of the forest, ungulates can cause damage to young trees and make silviculture less profitable. Hunting, on the other hand, is a way of managing wild ungulate populations in order to reduce damage to the forest. By working together, foresters and hunters are able to sustainably manage forest and wild ungulate populations.

Both videos were produced by in collaboration with the EFNO research team as part of the ReForest project*.

The ReForest project and the production of the videos were funded by the Centre-Val de Loire Regional Council. The EFNO Research Unit of the INRAE Val de Loire research center coordinated the ReForest project. It mobilized the following partners representing interests of private and public forest:

  • the Regional Center for Forest Property [CRPF] of Ile-de-France and Centre-Val de Loire;
  • the French National Forest Office;
  • the hunters: Regional and Departmental Federations of Hunters of the Centre-Val de Loire;
  • the forest-wood sector:
    - the association of inter-professions of the forest-wood sector in the Centre-Val de Loire Region, Fibois;
    as well as representatives of:
    - the French Office for Biodiversity;
    - and an environmental enterprise, Geo-Hyd, Antea Group.

The ReForest project focused on the issue of managing the balance between forestry and deer populations. This balance consists of finding a good compromise between the benefits and the harmful effects that deer cause to the forest and to society. The work of the ReForest project has made it possible to identify key points that undermine a constructive dialogue between stakeholders in the Centre-Val de Loire region. In order to remedy these problems, the project recommends implementing five recommendations:

  • contextualize the objectives to achieve;
  • decompose decision-making;
  • experiment and innovate in terms of management practices;
  • systematize data collection and add new indicators to the current monitoring schemes;
  • make information accessible to all.  

In order to support these recommendations, the project has developed, in collaboration with the stakeholders, new stakeholder communication procedures put into practice in the test phase in one of the pilot territories in Eure-et-Loir. The project also developed a new decision support tool in the form of an interactive dashboard. The beta version of the interactive dashboard is accessible via a web interface

See the videos in motion design:

Ungulates, engineers:

Integrated management:

* To know more about the project:

Laurent CarioCommunication


Anders Mårell Ecosystèmes forestiers de Nogent-sur-Vernisson



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