• The Sainte-Beaume Natural Park, and particularly the Signes plateau, faces many illegal deposits of waste.

  • On August 5, 2019, Jean-Mathieu Michel, mayor of Signes died, run over by the driver of a van who had illegally deposited rubble on a private road in the town.

  • As part of a plan to fight against these wild deposits, camera traps will be deployed.

It took a tragedy to draw attention to a problem well known to the inhabitants and elected officials of the 26 municipalities of the Sainte-Beaume Regional Natural Park, in the Var.

Two years after the death of Jean-Mathieu Michel, the mayor of Signes hit by a driver of a van while he was trying to oppose an illegal dumping of waste in the forest, elected officials and the administration of the Park have announced on Tuesday the deployment of a plan to fight against them.

Photo traps

The first part of this fight was to identify the various deposit points in this massif of more than 80,000 hectares.

“At this stage, nearly 140 depots have been listed, with geolocation and type of waste,” explains Perrine Arfaux, project manager and coordinator of these operations.

With, alas, still much to discover.

“Only the territories of 12 of the 26 municipalities have been inventoried,” she explains.

The Signes plateau, where Jean-Mathieu Michel died, is one of the hot spots.

Easy to access with the departmental road that crosses it, the forest is dotted with paths that can be used by car by which it is possible to unload discreetly.

Hervé Thébault, deputy mayor of Beausset and delegate for the Park, would like to close them to traffic but “about 80% of the woods are private”.

Obviously, that complicates things.

Then came the idea of ​​deploying camera traps, of the type used for the study of wild animals.

About ten of them will soon be deployed.

“To surprise”, hopes Alexandre Noël, the director of the Park, and hit hard “with very clear instructions given to the Var gendarmerie and the Draguignan prosecutor”.

Asbestos and palm trees

Beyond the number and extent of the deposits, the nature of the unloaded waste poses a problem. Among tires and plastics are asbestos fibers and palm trees. Asbestos, long used as an insulator, requires specific and expensive treatment. Impossible to deposit it in a conventional landfill. As well as the palm trees, which adorn many villas in the region, but which are appreciated by weevils, insects that feed on its wood. In fact, craftsmen and individuals have the temptation to evacuate them in nature at a lower cost, or rather to those of the community and the environment.

For this program, 60,000 euros have been committed, half provided by the Region.

A cost, to which must be added the mobilization of municipal officials and their technical resources.

"Today, we are heard," was satisfied Hélène Verduyn, the current mayor of Signes.


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