• Agents of the Ile-de-France National Forestry Office (ONF) are increasingly victims of verbal and sometimes physical attacks, which create a “heavy” climate.

  • Faced with this phenomenon, the ONF launched an internal investigation and published a press release to "sound the alarm", in the words of Michel Béal, director of the Ile-de-France West agency.

  • For the latter, these altercations are often the result of people who are poorly informed of the functions of the NFB.

It is not the return of the wolf to the Ile-de-France forests that most worries the National Forestry Office (ONF).

But a more aggressive species, the vehement walker.

So much so that the Ile-de-France ONF came out of its undergrowth to publish a press release entitled “Aggression of workers in the forest: Ile-de-France foresters are very affected”.

At the end of March, the office had launched an internal survey “with its foresters to qualify and quantify the state of their relations with users of public forests”, according to the press release.

"We had 60% of respondents, which is a high rate and reveals that employees feel concerned", analyzes Michel Béal, director of the Ile-de-France Ouest agency of the ONF, for whom "the phenomenon has grown over the past five years.

According to this study, “88% of respondents say they have already witnessed or been victims of an altercation in the performance of their duties”.

45% of them have suffered verbal criticism such as “I would be ashamed to do your job” or “you are useless”.

Finally, 10% of respondents say they have "been physically taken to task".

Threats and flat tires

But sometimes it goes further.

Thus, Nicolas, head of the Fontainebleau territorial unit, cites the case of a forester who “this winter discovered that the tires of his company vehicle had been punctured, which raises questions in terms of safety”.

Or another officer who “calls to order people who are illegally cutting wood in the forest and who is told: 'Anyway, we know where you live, don't worry!'

"We also found nails driven into the felled trunks, which can be very dangerous if we don't spot them before sending the wood to the sawmill", warns Michel Béal.

But it is also “everyday reproaches like “You are going to shave the forest”” which produce a “heavy feeling”, points out Nicolas.

“It plays a big role in morale.

When we question the profession of enthusiasts, it is very heavy.

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“It is often the fault of people who are not well informed, believes Michel Béal.

They do not understand how the NFB works and are unhappy with the logging.

“The ONF indeed multiplies the hats without always that the general public does not know what it returns.

In Ile-de-France, the ONF manages 93,000 hectares of forests, mostly state-owned public forests, that is to say belonging to the State, but it also manages wood belonging to local communities.

Millions of visitors per year

In these woods, the ONF accomplishes three missions.

First of all, “reception of the public with parking spaces, marked paths, information panels”, list Michel Béal who puts forward the figure of 80 to 100 million visitors per year.

But the ONF must “preserve and improve the biodiversity of forests where there is a lot of fauna and flora”.

Finally, the office must "ensure that the forest is maintained, that there are all age groups and a good mix of species".

And that goes through cuts and "it's normal", assures Michel Béal for whom the main problem is to manage to "combine these three missions".

And to deal with these attacks, the ONF relies on communication and informing the public about its functions, without excluding "more contentious procedures", explains the director, citing the example of a complaint filed after the flagrante delicto of a serial tagger of NFB signs.

But reminds Nicolas, "very often, by talking a little, we easily defuse".

The discussion, there is nothing better.

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  • Paris

  • Ile-de-France

  • Forest

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