Number of visitors: Tourists: approximately 1million/year
Protected island: yes Terrestrial protection status: at the heart of the Port-Cros National Park Marine protection status: at the heart of the Port-Cros National Park, Pelagos Sanctuary
Porquerolles belongs to the Golden Island archipelago, alongside with Port-Cros and Levant islands. Only 15 minutes away from the mainland, Porquerolles is a very popular touristic destination. It hosts a rare biodiversity, wild landscapes and a rich historical heritage (ancient ruins).
Porquerolles is one of the largest island of the Golden Islands archipelago. It is 3 km wide and 7 km long. The island’s highest point is at 142m above sea level, located at the semaphore level. Its East-West arched shape hosts large bays with sand beaches on one side, and on the other sharp cliffs forming narrow rocky inlets.
The presence of vestiges and wrecks on the Island’s coast and around testify of its strategic position and exploitation by the Etruscans, the Romans and the Greeks. It was also plundered numerous times by pirates. French Kings have successively commanded the building of several forts where they maintained defence forces.
In 1912, a Belgian engineer, Mr. Fournier, acquired the island. He is responsible for the island’s vineyards, vegetable crops and roads. He installed an electrical plant, a grocery store, a cooperative, a clinic, and he organised maritime transports in order to boost activities on the island.
Today, Porquerolles hosts the Mediterranean National Botanical Conservatory. In partnership with a local association that promotes professional reintegration, the project COPAIN was created. It aims to maintain varietal collections and exploit agricultural species on the island of Porquerolles while creating new employment.
Tourism is the primary economic activity, with up to 20,000 visitors per day in the summer. There are hence several small stores, restaurants and hotels. Some parcels are however specifically kept only for agriculture, and serve as firewalls. There are vineyards, fruit and vegetable crops. Wine produced on Porquerolles is labelled “Côtes de Provence”.
The Golden Island host numerous endemic and protected species. The National Park identified 602 terrestrial vegetal species, 500 algae species, 144 bird species, and 180 species of fish.
The fauna is mainly composed of forests (Aleppo pines and holm oaks) and scrubland (arbutus and arborescent heather). Rare and endemic species can also be observed, such as the Mediterranean broom (Genista linifolia) or the rock rose (Cistus crispus).
These small islands are home to very little terrestrial wildlife. Some species can be found, such as the Sardinian Discoglossus and the European lead-toed gecko.
Puffins and peregrine falcons nest on Porquerolles. Other bird species that can be seen on the island include the Eurasian scops owl, the common shelduck, the pallid swift… among many others!
The seasonal activity on Porquerolles is a source of threat because it adds pressure on clear and drinkable water resources, which are scarce (no connexion to the mainland and limited water stocks on the island). Ships transport clean water from the mainland in order to meet the water supply needs on the island, in particular in relation to the large tourist inflows and the various agricultural activities.
Tourism also poses the issue of waste management. Wastewaters are treated in a water treatment facility and discharged in a Lagoon system, before being re-used for the agriculture. During the high season, however, the water treatment facility capacity is usually exceeded.
Concerning waste, awareness-raising campaigns take place every year to encourage tourists to bring back their own waste to the mainland, and to promote waste sorting.
Despite the firewall-like plantations, the island is subject to sometimes strong winds and has a dry vegetation, which make it very vulnerable to fires.
The island is an important place for leisure-boating in the South of France. In order to preserve its sea grass meadows of Posidonia, anchoring boats is regulated in Porquerolles.