Call for papers: thematic session to International Geographic Union (IGU) Regional Conference in Kraków


Preserving the nocturnal environment – issues and actions around dark sky protected areas.

A thematic session organized by the RENOIR Research Group (Rémi Benos, Samuel Challéat, Dany Lapostolle, Johan Milian), Universities of Toulouse 2, Paris 8 and Dijon (France). See the IGU RC conference sessions’ outline here.

Everyone planning to attend the 2014 IGU Regional Conference in Kraków needs to register and pay the registration fee. The registration is possible only via the on-line system, available at: Each registered participant may submit no more than 2 abstracts by January 15, 2014. Abstracts can be submitted only via the on-line registration system.

Since the end of 2000s, initiatives of certification of dark sky protected areas (DSPA) are growing worldwide. They stress an increasing concern about the problems of light pollution caused by the socioeconomic activities, the functioning of our infrastructures and the sprawling of the urban lifestyle.
Currently located in North America (major part of DSPA belongs to USA or Canada like the Mont Megantic) these initiatives are reaching Europe where exist numerous movements for creating DSPA designations (Beskydy the first “dark park” designated in 2013 at the border of Slovakia and the Czech republic, Northumberland in UK, Pic du Midi in the French Pyrenees, etc.).
Beyond the problematic of light pollution and its regulation, these initiatives stress other topics regarding geographical dynamics. Indeed, their arrival in much inhabited areas like western European countries point out their meaning. Are they equal, similar everywhere? Do they imply the same problematic?

In this session we aim to gather researchers who are interested by the mechanisms and effects of DSPA. More specifically we want to focus on the topics below:

1. Which kinds of territorial resources in rural areas?

We make the hypothesis that the night has become a territorial resource (Pecqueur & Gumuchian, 2007). We aim to stress the different ways people and territories use it in DSPA, and to understand what is the specificity of these resources:

  • For tourism practices: scientific tourism (starry night), nature-based tourism, cultural tourism
  • For technical practices: new ways of managing lighting and ruling housing environment
  • For educative and scholar practices, citizen science projects…

2. Building cross-cutting territorialities between urban and rural areas

Around DSPA initiatives, we could imagine that relations between urban and rural are no longer asymmetric. Indeed nocturnal environment preservation is also a territorial resource for urban areas. By this way, DSPA highlight the existence of crossing challenges between landlocked areas and urban cities:

  • Effects on the actors systems: do DSPA build inter-territoriality practices (Vanier, 2009) ie do they favor geographical, organizational or institutional proximities (Gilly et alii, 2004)? Does it act as go-between? How local society is involved in the process?
  • Concerning the practices of environmental governance: do DSPA have effects on urban policies? Do they play a retroactive role in process of land and urban planning?

Of course we can imagine other questions or analysis frameworks regarding these initiatives and their impacts on geographical mechanisms.


  • AUBRECHT C. et alii, 2010. “Lighting governance for protected areas and beyond – Identifying the urgent need for sustainable management of artificial light at night”. Earthzine.
  • BIDWELL RGS, 2010. « Scotobiology : the ecology and sociobiology of light pollution ». In BONDRUP-NIELSEN S. et al. Ecosystem based management: beyond boundaries. Proceedings of the 6th international conference of Science and the management of protected areas. 21-26 May 2007. Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia. S. Mockford and S. O’Grady (Eds.), pp. 425-428.
  • CALLON M., LASCOUMES P., BARTHE Y., 2001. Agir dans un monde incertain. Eds Seuil, 358 p.
  • CHALLEAT S. et LAPOSTOLLE D. « La préservation de l’environnement nocturne : les enjeux d’une controverse sociotechnique ». Working paper submited, Natures, Sciences, Sociétés.
  • GILLY, J.-P., LEROUX, I. & WALLET, F. 2004. « Gouvernance et proximité ». In PECQUEUR B. & ZIMMERMANN J.-B. (2004) Economie de proximités. Hermès Science Publications, 264 p.
  • NARISADA K. et SCHREUDER D., 2004. Light pollution handbook. Astrophysics and Space Science Library, Berlin/NY/London, Springer.
  • PECQUEUR B. et GUMUCHIAN H., 2007. La ressource territoriale. Economica, 254 p.
  • RENOIR (Ressources Environnementales Nocturnes, tOurisme, territoIRes) web site
  • VANIER M. 2009. Le pouvoir des territoires – essai sur l’interterritorialité. Economica, coll. Anthropos.

Samuel Challéat

Samuel Challéat est chercheur en Géographie de l'environnement à l'UMR CNRS 5193 LISST de l'Université de Toulouse 2. Il est l’auteur, en 2010, de la première thèse de Doctorat portant sur la problématique émergente de la pollution lumineuse. Ce travail, intitulé « "Sauver la nuit". Empreinte lumineuse, urbanisme et gouvernance des territoires », explore les mutations de la fabrique et de la gouvernance de l’éclairage urbain face aux nouvelles préoccupations environnementales et économiques dans les territoires à l’échelle nationale, et ouvre des pistes de recherche sur les notions d’empreinte lumineuse, de trame noire ou encore de paysages nocturnes. Depuis 2013, Samuel Challéat coordonne le Collectif de recherche RENOIR (Ressources environnementales nocturnes & territoires), démarche collective qui opère la jonction entre l’approche de la nuit par les sciences de la société et les approches de la pollution lumineuse par les sciences du vivant. Ses travaux actuels portent la focale – suivant le cadre d’analyse des socio-écosystèmes – sur l’environnement nocturne, qu’il s’attache à construire en objet de recherche interdisciplinaire.

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