Country Profiles

Monaco - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

Monaco is located on the northern Mediterranean coast and bordered by France on its other three sides. It is the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world. This narrow strip of hilly and rocky land comprises 202 hectares only, of which 53 hectares have been reclaimed from the sea. This process of creating new land has resulted in the alteration or disappearance of a large portion of the country’s shallow coastal areas. There are no forests or agricultural development in Monaco. The country is almost completely urbanized although green spaces cover 42 hectares (20%) of the total territory.

Monaco’s coastline contains several limestone cliffs that are rare natural land areas still sheltering coastal and thermophilic vegetation. The cliffs of the Rock of Monaco overlooking the Mediterranean represent an area of remarkable floral diversity that appears relatively "wild" and preserved, despite being subjected to pressures from several invasive alien species. This area also serves as a refuge and breeding ground for a number of migratory and sedentary birds. Furthermore, the expanse and altitudinal amplitude of the limestone cliffs of Monaco’s Exotic Garden and hospital present a wide breadth of ecological conditions and plant communities. While recovery of this habitat’s vegetation remains low, fortunately threats are also low. Species of important heritage value, such as the endemic bellflower (Campanula macrorhiza), and rare species such as the seashore mallow (Lavatera maritime) and the tiny fern Asplenium petrarchae, are found in this habitat.

Monaco’s vegetation is dominated by thermophilic species such as olive, carob, mastic, Aleppo pine and tree spurge. A total of 347 taxa (species and subspecies) are currently present and distributed among 79 plant families. At least 49 taxa previously identified are now considered extinct in the territory. Exotic plants or xenophytes are particularly present. Terrestrial plant biodiversity is rich both in number of native species as well as in the important heritage value of many of them. Of particular note is that 6 endemic taxa have been identified sensu lato, representing 2% of the country’s flora.

In view of the country’s highly urbanized character, little space is left for wildlife in general. Sixty-two bird species have been counted, of which 4 are alien and 7 are threatened. The country’s most represented bird is the Yellow-legged gull (Goéland leucophée), known for its predation pressure on sparrows and micromammals, which has called for measures for managing this situation. Monaco has identified 1 fish species as endangered, and 17 fish species, 1 crustacean and 1 mollusk as slightly threatened. The dusky grouper and corb have been protected since 1993, and the bluefin tuna since 2011. In 2013, a new species of beetle (Troglorynchus) was discovered in Monaco, representing a major discovery for science.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The main causes of biodiversity loss are habitat degradation and loss, terrestrial and marine pollution, invasive alien species, and climate change.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

Monaco has not yet developed an NBSAP however its policy on sustainable development aims to preserve Monaco’s natural heritage and implement its climate and energy plan, among other objectives.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Monaco’s industrial sector comprises 100 small, non-polluting and high value-added industries.

Monaco has established a series of positive incentives relevant to biodiversity and the environment (e.g. grant for the purchase of a clean vehicle; grant for the installation of a solar thermal system; incentive for electrical production from photovoltaic devices).

Artificial reefs are one of many management tools used to preserve marine natural heritage. The immersion of the first such reef occurred over 30 years ago in the Larvotto Marine Reserve.

The noble pen shell (Grande nacre) is an emblematic and vulnerable Mediterranean species, known for its sensitivity to water quality. In this light, and in view of the fact that sizable development projects will be conducted in the immediate proximity of the Larvotto Marine Reserve, Monaco decided to establish a population of this species in the Reserve to serve as an indicator of the quality of the marine coastal environment.

Monaco completed an inventory of its marine and terrestrial habitats, on the basis of European classifications (EUNIS, NATURA 2000), which enabled an evaluation of their conservation statuses.

In 2010, Monaco entered into a partnership agreement with the National Union of French Apiculture. This has led to the establishment of 6 hives in Monaco and also supports the Charter of the Bee “Sentinel of the Environment” which Monaco signed in 2011.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

Monaco regularly updates its regulations to meet the requirements of international conventions. In 2011, Chapter 4 (“Exploitation of Living Resources”) of its Maritime Code was amended by ordinance to update the list of species protected within the context of the fisheries sector, with insertion of species contained in Annex 2 of the Barcelona Convention.

Monaco’s territory has two marine protected areas, totaling 35.5 hectares. Furthermore, all of its territorial waters are integrated into the PELAGOS Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals, classified by the Barcelona Convention as a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMI).

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation was created in 2006 for the protection of the environment and promotion of sustainable development on a global scale. The Foundation focuses its activities on 3 main areas: climate change, preservation of biodiversity and the fight against desertification.

Monaco’s financial contribution to international development within the context of biodiversity is around Euros 350,000 per year.

The Monaco Blue Initiative (MBI) was created in 2010. A meeting, co-organized annually by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco, has become a major event for sharing knowledge and experience regarding the protection and governance of the oceans among the world’s economic, scientific, political and environmental leaders. The Initiative’s main theme is the development, strengthening and financing of Marine Protected Areas.

The "Monaco Declaration" on ocean acidification was co-signed in 2008 by 155 scientists from 26 countries. Biennial workshops are now held, providing an interdisciplinary forum, including natural scientists and economic specialists, among others, to assess the state of knowledge on ocean acidification, set priorities for future research and make recommendations for policy-makers.

Monaco is supporting various small scale projects related to ecosystems recovery such as mangrove and related to species conservation. Ocean acidification, capacity building and adaptation to climate change are the key areas where Monaco is acting in particular in the Pacific region.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

Monaco conducts a series of scientific inventories and mapping of its territory on an annual basis to assess habitat quality and establish appropriate management measures. Issues related to the identification, management and eradication of invasive alien species are taken into consideration.