Co-creating evidence-based business roadmaps and policy solutions for enhancing coastal-rural collaboration and synergies

Charente River Basin

Location and characteristics

The Charente river basin in South-West France is predominantly rural and covers an area of 10,500 km² linked to the sea by the Pertuis Charente River with a large tidal influence.

Agriculture represents the main hinterland activity (59% of the area but only 6% jobs), and major urbanization can be found in two cities Angouleme upstream and La Rochelle on the coast) and industrialization can be found at Port Atlantique-La Rochelle (8.49.5 million M tons handled per year of which 4 M tons of cereals).

The region is characterized by a contrast between the densely populated coastal fringe and the rural territory with a low population density.

Industrial activity is dominated by the agri-food and wine industry around the cities of Cognac and Angoulême. (204 M Bottles of which 97% is exported representing an annual revenue of 3,1 Billion €).

Tourism in the region is significant (currently, mainly in the coastal zone representing 6% of jobs on average and 10% in summer representing 25000 jobs). At the river mouth, the Charente river supplies fresh water to the oyster shellfish production basin of Marennes Oléron (Oysters marketed 50000 tons and mussels marketed 12000 tons). Freshwater is essential for shellfish farming, which depends on a sensitive balance between the temperature, salinity, and acidity of coastal waters, inland supply of freshwater and nutrients. The Marennes-Oléron bay is the first European shellfish farming center for spat production and for the number of shellfish companies (SMEs).

Charente-Maritime is home to three major marshes, the cultivation of which constitutes a risk of imbalance endangering the fauna and the flora. There is a high concern for diffuse pollution by nutrients and pesticides of surface waters and their influence on the drinking water supply. Most inland watercourses suffer from droughts and periodic low water levels, making water supply a challenge in the area. Thus the main policy issue for the region is the current and future supply and quality of the freshwater for different functions (drinking water, agriculture, industry, and shellfish farming).


How to reconcile rural and coastal business and development opportunities with environmental constraints particularly regarding the water resource while guaranteeing economic growth and employment?



  • To strengthen policies for sustainable development of the upstream, downstream part of the basin and the coastal zone
  • Through an integrated approach, coordinate opportunities for the economic development of coastal and rural areas while preserving the environment and in particular the water resource
  • Evolution towards a diversified, harmonious, sustainable territory that maintains the major economic activities (sustainable shellfish farming, agriculture, tourism),  population, and services both in coastal and rural areas while developing land-sea synergies.

The territory of the Charente river basin is characterized by a strong agricultural activity throughout the basin (cereals and Cognac vineyards) that have a strong impact on water resources and significant shellfish and tourist activities (depending on the quality of the water) on the coastal zone. Water is therefore a water issue for the development of this territory. Port infrastructures and marine energies also offer real opportunities for the joint economic development of the coastal and rural areas.


  1. Water managers and policymakers
  2. Agriculture and Agroindustry
  3. Shellfish farming, Aquaculture, and Fisheries
  4. Local authorities and managers, NGOs
  5. Ports, Infrastructure and Energy
  6. Coastal and rural tourism



French MAL Coordination:

Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement (INRAE)

Jean-Marie Lescot / e-mail:  / tel.: +33 (0)5 57 89 27 03

Françoise Vernier / e-mail:  / tel.: +33 (0)5 57 89 08 36

French MAL data management/webmaster:

Sandrine Sabatié / e-mail:  / tel.: +33 (0)5 57 89 01 60

INRAE websites:

Link to the INRAE website (English):  

Link to the French MAL website: (beta version)

Local partners of the Charente River Basin MAL