This Biosphere reserve comprises three inhabited islands (Ouessant, Sein and Molène), as well as the Molène archipelago which consists of around twenty smaller islands, plus the waters between the islands.

All the major ecosystems of the Atlantic biogeographical region (island, coastal and marine) are represented: the marine environment, beaches, cliffs with Atlantic coastal vegetation, heathlands and grasslands.

Island communities have developed and maintained unique cultures, both on land and at sea. The Reserve’s exceptional landscapes and biodiversity are a popular destination for researchers, tourists and artists alike.

Administrative authorities: Armorique Regional Natural Park and Iroise Marine Natural Park

Located within the boundaries of the Armorique Regional Natural Park, the Biosphere reserve has been under the administration of this organisation since its inception in 1988.

As part of the MAB review process, the Reserve is currently in a reflective phase to redefine the initial project and its management methods. The challenge is to get a large number of natural area managers working together, and to integrate two complementary management systems: Iroise Marine Natural Park for the sea, and Armorique Regional Natural Park for the terrestrial parts of the inhabited islands. Also under consideration is an extension of the Biosphere reserve’s boundaries on the Île de Sein and its associated marine areas.

Number of municipalities3
Area    20,600 ha
DepartmentsFinistère (29)
Creation date1988


carte du territoire

Biodiversity on the islands of Ouessant, Sein and Molène is rich and unique. The importance of some coastal habitats is recognized by the European Union, and many species of high natural heritage value can be found there, including the Marsh Harrier, Dartford Warbler, Red-billed Chough, Land Quillwort, and Least Adder’s Tongue. The islands are a stopover and nesting place for sea birds (storm petrels). The beaches are home to a wide variety of algal and benthic species. A colony of grey seals and a sedentary group of bottlenose dolphins also call the Molène archipelago home.

The current challenge is to maintain balance in the various ecosystems of the Biosphere reserve, in the face of developing human activities on the larger islands and at sea.

On Ouessant Island, rural activities like small-scale cultivation and livestock breeding have almost disappeared. The Reserve strives to preserve its characteristic landscapes – moors criss-crossed with dry stone walls (which protect crops from the wind, sea spray, and from livestock left to graze freely on the hillsides over the winter months), and dotted with small stone shelters.
On  Molène and Sein islands, the tradition of commercial fishing remains small-scale.

Traditional algae production in the Molène archipelago has been modernized, and is the largest algae “field” in Europe harvested for use as raw materials in nutritional and cosmetic products.

Today, the main economic activity of the islander population is tourism. This results in significant population growth over the summer months, which has consequences for the environment.



Restaurer les milieux emblématiques des îles

Depuis 1998, un programme d’actions de lutte contre l'enfrichement et de restauration des milieux emblématiques est mené depuis 1998 sur les trois îles d'Iroise.

Encourager des pratiques touristiques respectueuses de l’environnement

L’archipel de Molène est une zone refuge pour un certain nombre d’espèces et d’habitats d’intérêt patrimonial et a également une forte attractivité pour des publics locaux et touristiques.

La responsabilisation des prestataires touristiques proposant des découvertes commerciales encadrées sur support nautique est une première étape dans la gestion de ces espaces sensibles. Elle est encadrée et concrétisée par la signature d’une charte des bonnes pratiques touristiques. Ce processus doit conduire à la sensibilisation, la formation et la mise en place d’engagements contrôlables ainsi qu’à une meilleure prise en compte environnementale de la part des prestataires.

Encourager une pêche responsable

Permettant une meilleure identification du produit, le label « Ormeaux de Molène » valorise une pêche responsable et encourage l’activité de pêche sur les îles. Il a été mis en place fin 2008 par le Parc naturel marin d’Iroise, en partenariat avec Normapêche, Bretagne Qualité Mer, le comité local des pêches du Nord Finistère et la criée de Brest. En 2009, plus de 2 tonnes d’ « ormeaux de Molène » ont été pêchées dans l’archipel.



Chargement légende

Experimental clearing site, Ouessant_PNR d’ArmoriqueBottlenose dolphins in the Molène archipelago_Parc naturel marin d’IroiseKayaking in the Molène archipelago_Parc naturel marin d’IroiseThe Black Stones lighthouse, Molène archipelago_Parc naturel marin d’IroiseThe village of Molène_Parc naturel marin d’IroiseLiving heritage: transmission of knowledge, Niou Ecomuseum_PNR d’Armorique
Living heritage: transmission of knowledge, Niou Ecomuseum_PNR d’ArmoriqueCréac'h lighthouse and Ouessant sheep_PNR d’ArmoriqueRestoration of an emblematic heritage, Molène_PNR d’ArmoriquePublic meeting, Iroise Biosphere Reserve_PNR d’ArmoriqueNature discovery tourism_PNR d’ArmoriqueThongweed algae, Himanthalia elongata_Parc naturel marin d’Iroise
Thongweed algae, Himanthalia elongata_Parc naturel marin d’Iroise