MEDAM est le pendant de MEDAMP, l’observatoire sur la protection de la biodiversité :


1. Damage to the marine environment

The destruction of the habitat is at the very summit of the hierarchy of damage to the biodiversity of the planet, ranking even above the impact of invasions of allogenic species, chemical or bacteriological pollution or the over-exploitation of living natural resources. The impact of major climatic changes will soon have to be taken into account in this ranking (Chapin et al., 2000).

2. The destruction of habitats in marine environment by coastal development

Damage to the marine environment that is underestimated

Each land reclamation from the sea destroys an underwater habitat by building over or enclosing a body of water. A high density of reclamations on small shallow bottom areas represents quantitatively a major form of damage to the underwater environment. The destruction caused is irreversible.


Assessment of the overall impact of reclamation from the sea has been undertaken on the basis of an exhaustive inventory :


An innovative impact assessment

Coastal development is generally assessed subjectively, by considering the integration in the landscape advantages of the reclamation, and pragmatically, by highlighting the economic advantages generated.

Ecological impact

The ecological impact is assessed by comparison of the areas reclaimed from the sea by construction with the original area of the coastal shallow bottoms (from 0 to -10 m, from -10 m to -20 m), the richest habitats in the marine environment. This assessment provides the basis for estimating rates of destruction of coastal ecosystems by bathymetric range. The negative impact outside the reclamation  area is not taken into account.

Impact on the landscape

The landscape impact is assessed by comparison of the artificialised coastline with the coastline prior to any reclamation (original coastline). This assessment provides the basis for estimating rates of artifialisation of the coastal area.


The MEDAM data base covers the whole of the French Mediterranean coast (excluding lagoons, except for the Étang de Berre). The Principality of Monaco, as an enclave within French territory, is included. All data are presented on the basis of administrative divisions: country (France and Monaco), Regions (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Corsica and Languedoc-Roussillon), départements (counties) (10) and communes (municipal or rural district) (183). The subdivision of the data on the basis of European water masses (50) (Framework Directive ‘Water’ of the European Parliament) is also given.



An image data base has been developed in order to present visually the changes in the coastline at the sites of reclamation redevelopment schemes.


784 photographs are available at this site, with ongoing updating of the image bank. The photographs may be recent or more historical (views of the coast prior to reclamation have been sought). Some are photographs taken from the air others at ground level (sea or land).


The images made available are of low resolution. The photographers are cited and may in some cases be contacted by e-mail (list of photographers). Any new photos or similar documents are welcome: contact us to upload them ! (aims, procedure, conditions)


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Access the cartographical data base to view the contour lines of all the reclamations and the contours of all the bathymetric and administrative limits.


Access data on the characteristics, description, year of redevelopment, illustrations and localisation of each reclamation > 100 m².


Access the historical record data base: the construction of each structure or part of a structure has been dated. This data provides the basis for showing on bar charts the progression over time of reclamations and their impact on the basis of administrative units (country, region, county ( département), municipal and rural district (commune) or ECD water mass).


For all French Mediterranean coasts (excluding Monaco and the Etang de Berre) (see ‘details’ for noteworthy regional or more local particularities).

MEDAM Inventory :

Original coastline : 2 062 km (> see details)

Surface area of shallow water bottoms prior to any reclamation (> see details) :

Between 0 and -10 m : 80 723 ha soit 807 km²

Between -10 m and -20 m : 88 046 ha soit 880 km²

Between 0 and -20 m : 168 769 ha soit 1 688 km²
Between -20 and -50 m : 330 030 ha soit 3 300 km²


Number of reclamations (>100 m²) : 1 002 (> see details)


Coastline ‘artificialised’ by reclamation : 228.57 km (> see details)

Surface areas reclaimed by these redevelopments (> see details) :

Between 0 et -10 m : 4 174.33 ha

Between -10 m et -20 m : 947.79 ha

Between 0 et -20 m : 5 122.12 ha


MEDAM Impacts :

Rate of ‘artificialisation’ of coastline (linear) : 11.11 % (> see details)

Rate of irreversible destruction of shallow water bottoms by reclamation (> see details) :

Between 0 et -10 m : 5.17 % 

Between -10 m et -20 m : 1.08 % 

Between 0 et -20 m : 3.03 %


Progression :
A step in the right direction: a clear slowing down of reclamation from 1985  (> see details).