“I was afraid it would be loud”: in training with people from Charentes who have committed environmental crimes

As a symbol, the rain did not let go of the repentants. This Tuesday, May 14, Mother Nature may have even wanted to give back the ten or so environmental delinquents led by the Angoulême public prosecutor’s office in the protected natural area of ​​Brandes de Soyaux, a former military site by the past confused with an outdoor recycling center.

” It feels good “

This internship is a first. Rather than a type 5 fine, these eight men – one woman – were offered this unprecedented measure, the result of an agreement between the Charente justice system and several environmental stakeholders in the region, the French Biodiversity Office (OFB) , the Charentaise Fishing Federation, the Conservatory of Natural Spaces (CEN), the gendarmerie and the Association for Investigation and Mediation (AEM).

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After three theoretical hours in the morning, the nine culprits found themselves in the parking lot of the Mégarama de Garat. Awareness is first exhaustive. Discusses “fern management”, looks at the question of “reopening ponds”, between two digressions on the presence of “a beetle” or “around fifteen dragonflies”.

I was asked to do it, I’m doing it…

So many points raised by the CEN facilitator, Luc Pineau, and supposed to stir up the green spirit of the culprits. Without losing sight of the host of possible offenses in a protected area like the Brandes: “Here you can’t go there on motocross”, cites the trainer as an example, a clear reference to the destructive comings and goings of 4x4s on the site.

His assembly knows about infractions. Fishing at night and without a license. Wild deposits. Agricultural pollution. Attacks on protected species: “The most serious offense on this course was this participant who picked up a dead falcon to make a hunting trap,” explains Mathieu Rhoné, head of department at OFB Charente.

The course takes place in the Brandes moors. “I was afraid it would be a bit boring but in the end it feels good because we are not always aware of the standards, of the work of these people who protect the environment,” confides Joël Verneuil, a happy repentant. This Couronnese ambulance driver convicted of “depositing rubbish” between his work and his former place of life also recognizes this: “This internship (Editor’s note. Billed €220) also saves me from paying more, between €500 and €600”, he believes.


Luc Pineau works for the Conservatory of Natural Spaces of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. One of its missions: to “see what public money is for” in the event of environmental degradation.

Quentin Petit

At his side, “the offenses [NDLR. Contraventions et délits] are very much the result of inattention and negligence. Thierry, a carp fishing enthusiast, had parked too close to the shore at Mas Chaban Lake. Three OFB agents didn’t miss it. “As all the local fishermen park in the same place, I first thought it was a hidden camera,” is still surprised by this fifty-year-old from Cognac who travels the world for his work.

Explosion of procedures in 2023

To atone for the mistakes, the CEN also thought it useful. Since the Brandes moors are still littered with waste, we might as well have the culprits continue to collect. The little troop does so. Between enthusiasm and weariness. “I was asked to do it, I’m doing it…” grumbles one participant. Another carries an earthenware kettle under his elbow. Everyone participated. But two absentees will be summoned again by the courts, having not seized the pole extended by this alternative measure.

Nature is our mother. If we don’t respect our mother, we don’t respect much anymore.

This awareness is part of the news. In Charente, environmental attacks have jumped: + 27% in one year, 438 legal proceedings in 2023 compared to 344 in 2022. “The objective is to raise ethical awareness,” explains Mathieu Rhoné, of the OFB Charente. “It’s telling the participants that there are no small violations. » Given the scale, is this course sufficient? “It’s short but we make do with it,” also said the manager. An observation heard by the gendarmerie, who had dispatched one of its environment and animal abuse trainers. On a daily basis, 20 military investigators work on the matter in Charente.


On Tuesday, the punishment of these nine offenders was to collect waste. Ultimately, offenders sentenced to correctional facilities could also participate.

Quentin Petit

End of collection. Five theoretical questions are asked in writing. His questionnaire returned, Thierry asks for more and wants to know the next volunteer collections at Brandes.

Jean-Paul, a farmer from western Charentais condemned for forgetting a soil analysis in one of his fields, philosopher: “Nature is our mother. If we don’t respect our mother, we don’t respect much anymore. The problem is man. As long as we don’t make him understand, we will end up killing our mother…”. To the following.

A regional specificity

The deputy prosecutor of Angoulême, Mathieu Auriol, imported this system which he had helped to create five years earlier in Charente-Maritime. An innovative system, of which the OFB is only aware in Haute-Vienne, and which aims to be sustained in Charente, at the level of two to three sessions per year. Next course in the fall.

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