Discover the Biosphere



Km of Paris


& more than 290 000 inhabitants


Mammalian species!


Beetle species!

Fontainebleau & Gâtinais Biosphere

Fontainebleau’s & Gâtinais’s Biosphere; sustainability in service of biodiversity!

Iconic forest of Fontainebleau, agricultural territories, historical and cultural heritage; Seine and Essonne shores… our perimeter holds unique biodiversity constantly challenged by human activities.

Thanks to the Biosphere, we have the power to reconsider the Human-Nature relationship. We are pillars of a respectful and sustainable world.

More than 20 years at your service!

Created in 1998, Fontainebleau-Gâtinais Biosphere is part of UNESCO’s global nature reserves network.  We are the only Biosphere Reserve in Île-de-France.

Founded by the departments of Seine-et-Marne and Essonne, the National Forestry Office (ONF), the regional parc of Gâtinais, de engineer school école des Mines, and the National Museum of Natural History, the Fontainebleau-Gâtinais Biosphere gathers different participants all aiming towards sustainability.

Our goals: actions to preserve, developpe, and innovate!

Our biosphere focuses on three objectives:

  • To save the biodiversity of a unique environment
  • To developpe sustainable economic solutions taking in account sociocultural and environmental factors
  • Logistic and scientific support, research, raising awareness


Fontainebleau & Gâtinais’s biosphere association

Our missions are coordinated by Fontainebleau-Gâtinais Biosphere.

 The association may provide scientific support and organize talks between the different structures if needed.

Biosphere Reserve perimeter in 2022

The MAB’s program implies that a Biosphere is made up of three areas. Often, they are all linked:

  • a core area; comprises a strictly protected zone that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species, and genetic variation
  •  a buffer zone; It surrounds or adjoins the core area(s), and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training, and education.
  •  a transition area;  where communities foster socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable economic and human activities.

Reviewed in 2022, The Fontainebleau-Gâtinais Biosphere ‘s perimeter takes into consideration all the already established structures prospering in our territories. 

This diversity of arrangements is an asset as it allows effective protection measures to be adapted to local contexts and different conservation objectives.

The many existing structures on our ground help us regulate the rapid urbanization of the territory (due to the proximity to Paris) or any unsustainable projects.

The different structures working towards sustainable biodiversity revealed four main zone each with their own challenges:

• The Forest of Fontainebleau
• The Valley of Loing and Orvanne
• The Valley of Essonne
• The Calcareous grassland of Gâtinais

The Biosphere municipalities

Achères-la-forêt – Amponville – Arbonne-la-Forêt – Avon – Bagneaux-sur-Loing – Barbizon – Bois-le-Roi – Boissise-le-Roi –  Boissy-aux-cailles – Boulancourt – Bourron-Marlotte – Burcy – Buthiers – Cély-en-Bière – Chailly-en-Bière – Champagne-sur-Seine – La Chapelle-la-Reine – Chartrettes – Château-Landon – Châtenoy – Chevrainvilliers – Dammarie-les-Lys – Darvault – Dormelles – Faÿ-Lès-Nemours – Flagy, Fleury-en-Bière – Fontainebleau – Fontaine-le-Port – Fromont – Garentreville – La Genevraye – Grez-sur-Loing – Guercheville – Héricy – Larchant – Livry-sur-Seine – Madeleine-sur-Loing – Montcourt-Fromonville – Montigny-sur-Loing – Moret-Loing-et-Orvanne – Nanteau-sur-Essonne – Nanteau-sur-Lunain – Nemours – Noisy-sur-Ecole Nonville – Ormesson – Paley – Perthes-en-Gâtinais – Poligny – Pringy – Recloses – Remauville – La Rochette – Rumont – Saint-Fargeau-Ponthierry – Saint-Germain-sur-Ecole – Saint Mammès – Saint-Martin-en-Bière, Saint-Pierre-lès-Nemours, Saint-Sauveur-sur-Ecole, Samois-sur-Seine, Samoreau, Souppes-sur-Loing, Thomery, Tousson, Treuzy-Levelay, Ury, Le Vaudoué, Vernou-la-Celle-sur-Seine, Villecerf, Villemaréchal, Villemer, Ville-Saint-Jacques, Villiers-en-Bière, Villiers-sous-Grez, Vulaines-sur-Seine, Auvernaux, Auvers-Saint-Georges, Ballancourt-sur-Essonne, Baulne, Blandy, Boigneville, Bois,-Herpin, Boissy-le-Cutté, Bouray-sur-Juine, Boutigny-sur-Essonne, Bouville, Brouy, Buno-Bonnevaux, Cerny, Chamarande, Champcueil, Champmotteux, Chevannes, Coudray-Montceaux, Courances, Courdimanche sur Essonne, Dannemois, Echarcon, La Ferté Alais, Fontenay-le-Vicomte, La Forêt-Sainte-Croix, Gironville sur Essonne, Guigneville sur Essonne, D’Huison-Longueville, Itteville, Janville-sur-Juine, Leudeville, Maisse, Mennecy, Mespuits, Milly-la-forêt, Moigny-sur-Ecole, Mondeville, Nainville-les-Roches, Oncy-sur-Ecole, Ormoy, Orveau, Prunay-sur-Essonne, Puiselet-le-Marais, Roinvilliers, Saint-Vrain, Soisy sur Ecole, Valpuiseaux, Vayres-sur-Essonne, Vert-le-grand, Vert-le-petit, Videlles, Villeneuve sur Auvers

A plan to protect:

The borders of our territory were defined with an objective to resist against the soil artificialisation due to the rapid urbanisation of Ile de France. Certain key zones housing rare or interesting elements of biodiversity are directly being threatened by this urbanisation. The frontier between these two different areas  act as « resistance fronts » which need be armed to keep the integrity of the protect core zones.

The territory’s biological characteristics in a nutshell

Fontainebleau-Gâtinais Biosphere Reserve has many different landscapes, all interconnected. These landscapes create a rich ecosystem and make the survival of extremely diverse fauna and flora possible.

Forest environment

With more than 45 000 acres, the forest environment represents nearly 50% of our territory. The vast majority is made of Fontainebleau’s Forest. As part of Natura 2000, more than 18 ecosystemic interests are included.  The eldest woods located on high grounds are home to rich fauna and flora.

Sandy environment

The rocky and sandy environments are dry and mostly located within the forest. Some habitats constricted to these environments make them worth being Natura 2000, the growth of grass is the first stage of spontaneous forest dynamic. Fontainebleau’s sand is a well-known geological resource because it is pure silica. In some parts, quarries are still in function.


Firstly, shaped by aggregate (sand, grit, and gravel) extraction, then by artificial ponds, a varied fauna appeared in the marshes. With diverse local wildlife sheltered in the valley, humid environments are pivotal in the ecological discussion.  


Farming represents 43% of Fontainebleau-Gâtinais Biosphere Reserve territory.  Apart from the Plaine de Bière, in the North, dedicated to market gardening, agriculture mainly consists of cereal cropping.


Création à Fontainebleau
de l’UICN

(Union internationale pour la conservation de la nature)


Ensembles rupestres
& abris gravés


Millions de visiteurs
par an

Land of Man, Land of Nature, Land of History

Fontainebleau-Gâtinais Biosphere, a patchwork of ecosystem !


Per year; they are more 13 million travellers in Fontainebleau’s Forest.

Forest, desert, lands, calcareous grassland, pawns, swamps, Seine and Essonne, towns and villages, pathways and roads….. countless travellers walk the forest’s grown.  They explore and discover its plateaux, rocks, and many other geological distinctive features all inherited from the sea located in Paris Basin 30 million years ago.   

At first glance, this landscape looks natural but it has been heavily shaped by man since its existence. With more than 2000 engraved rocks, the biosphere is the vastest prehistorical site in Europe. Human interference on the forest can be seen by looking at the wide variety of tree species found in the forest.

History and land of kings and queens

Going from Robert II the Pious, who started the long-lasting construction of Fontainebleau’s castle, from Henri VI, who built the “route long”, to Louis XVI, the Sun King, who hunted regularly in this forest, this King’s land holds a natural and historical heritage.

The first measures to protect the environment were taken here, in Fontainebleau’s Forest. Napoleon III yielded to the pressure of Barbizon’s painters and created the first-ever nature reserve. In 1861, more than 1000 hectares were protected to allow painters such as Jean-Francois Millet, Theodore Rousseau, Jean-Baptise Camille Corot, and more to paint Fontainebleau’s landscapes.

In 1948, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was created In Fontainebleau. First-ever union on a world scale, it is the largest environmental network. It gathers more than 1300 states or official organizations.

The first-ever marked trail in the world!  

Claude-Francois Dénecourt(1788-1875), created the first walking trail in the world in 1842. After his death, the Colinets continued his work by adding 100km to the already existing 150 km trail. These trails are marked today by a blue paint stroke and are cared for by the ONF and AFF (amis de la forest de Fontainebleau).

Découvrir les sentiers bleus

The Biosphere’s trustees

Béatrice Rucheton is the president of our association. To support her there are many different actors, institutions, and associations, all located in our territory.

Scientist Council

Scientists from diverse domains ( ecology, biology, human/social sciences…) form the scientist council.

It is run by Odile Loison an ecology specialist and the principal manager of the “station d’ecologie forstiere” of Paris Diderot University and Richard Raymond, eco-anthropologist and researcher at CNR and LADYSS.


In 2022, our main patrons were Région Ile-de-France, Département de Seine-et-Marne and Département de l’Essonne.


In 2022, the Biosphere roughly gathered 50 eco-players, all travel agencies or independent professionals aiming toward a sustainable approach.

En savoir +

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