International Dark Sky Reserve
7, route d’Aubusson
19290 Millevaches, France
Regional Natural Park of Millevaches in Limousin (PNRML, or Réserve Internationale de Ciel Étoilé du Millevaches in French) is recognized for its iconic landscapes of heather moors, peat bogs, wetlands, and old-growth deciduous forests, as well as for its unspoiled natural character. The topography of PNRML is marked by rivers, as 80% of the rivers of the Limousin region come from the Plateau of Millevaches. The effect of water on the territory is historical since the origin of the word “Millevaches” could come from the Occitan (regional language) word “Mille Vaca”, which translates to “the thousand sources.” The entire Reserve territory includes 124 municipalities, 9 intercommunalities, and covers three départments with Creuse, Corrèze, and Haute-Vienne, as well as the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. In total, the Reserve covers 3,350 km2 with 38,950 inhabitants. Indeed, the Milky Way can be observed with the naked eye throughout the Reserve, even in the most populous municipalities such as Meymac (2,322 inhabitants), with an average zenith night sky brightness measurement of 21.6 mag / arcsec². Visitors are always delighted to see how visible the stars are in the region.
Multiple partnerships, management plans, and resources were constructed and obtained to support the Reserve’s efforts. For example, the IDSR territory utilizes the program PETR (Pôle d’Équilibre Territorial et Rural), which aims to improve cooperation between rural areas and small municipalities. PNRML also has part of the territory treated by a SCOT (Schéma de Cohérence Territoriale), which is a framework document for planning towns coherently. Finally, there are four local energy authorities in the Reserve territory. Two in Corrèze (FDEE19 and Diège), one in Creuse (SDEC), and one in Haute-Vienne (SEHV). Their collaboration in the IDSR project is essential to improve the Reserve’s lighting in both the core and periphery, as the energy authorities manage and maintain all publicly-owned fixtures. Additionally, these energy authorities help advise municipalities on the luminaires to install, replace, or remove.
In search of energy efficiency, PNRML carried out a public lighting renovation project in 2015 in certain municipalities whose political wills converged with the Reserve project. PNRML supported these municipalities by obtaining and supplying funding from the CEE-TEPCV (Energy Saving Certificate – Positive Energy Territory for Green Growth) program. In addition to modernizing public lighting, the project renovated 1,063 individual fixtures, corresponding to an energy savings of 746 MWh / year across PNRML.
PNRML also partnered with the International Center of Art and Landscape of the island of Vassivière (CIAP) to organize two artists’ residencies associated with the IDSR process. This work aims to raise awareness of the stakes of the night, while working with actors of the territory, attract artists to the Park, enrich an artistic dynamic coming from the territory, and illustrate our nocturnal landscapes or what is inspired by them. By supporting the arts and depicting their culture in diverse mediums, Regional Natural Park of Millevaches in Limousin will ensure that their stories, legends, tradition, and appreciation of the night sky will continue to persist and inspire those who dare to look up.