The inventory of natural zones of ecological, faunistic and floristic interest (ZNIEFF) has been for more than 30 years a major program in biodiversity conservation and knowledge and a spearhead among the national inventory of natural heritage listed in the Environmental Code. The Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle is source of this project. It has been in charge of national framework and scoping (methods and validation) and diffusion of the ZNIEFF inventory, since its implementation. The methodology and the utility of the program have had many major evolutions over the time, they have never stopped adapting either to the needs and issues or to financial resources and existing skills. The ZNIEFF’s nature of inventory and zoning have sometimes been misleading as it’s neither a species inventory nor a wildlife park or a nature reserve. On the eve of the implementation of the new methodology for a permanent inventory, the evolution of the nature and the utility of the ZNIEFF inventory is here described, from the reason of its creation to its actual form.
expertise, inventory, natural heritage.