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ENVIRONMENT

New rooftops to go green all over France

Rooftops on new buildings built in commercial zones in France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels, under a law approved on Thursday.

New rooftops to go green all over France
A beekeeper sprays a beehive on the green vegetated roofs of the 'Beaugrenelle Paris' shopping mall during their inauguration on April 4, 2013 in Paris.Photo: AFP

Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer.

They also retain rainwater, thus helping reduce problems with runoff, while favouring biodiversity and giving birds a place to nest in the urban jungle, ecologists say.

The law approved by parliament was more limited in scope than initial calls by French environmental activists to make green roofs that cover the entire surface mandatory on all new buildings.

The Socialist government convinced activists to limit the scope of the law to commercial buildings.

The law was also made less onerous for businesses by requiring only part of the roof to be covered with plants, and giving them the choice of installing solar panels to generate electricity instead.

Green roofs are popular in Germany and Australia, and Canada's city of Toronto adopted a by-law in 2009 mandating them in industrial and residential buildings.

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ENVIRONMENT

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.

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