Édouard-Alfred Martel was 30 years old when, in 1889, he decided to explore the Gouffre de Padirac. The young, intuitive, and visionary explorer had already spent several months preparing for the unusual adventure: going down into one of the hidden faces of the Earth, one of the most mysterious chasms ever explored...
He doubtless did not know, at the time, that the adventure would lead to one of the world's most significant geological discoveries.
“ To seek consolation for human behaviour by studying and admiring nature.
With no self-interest, no self-ambition, loving and practising science for its usefulness. ”
Martel's interest was not limited to underground areas. After visiting Yosemite National Park in the USA in 1913, he published a study on national parks around the world. As a lawyer, he knew the value of a definition to protect a work.
This is what he set out: « "A territorial reservation with accurate boundaries, and within which appropriate legal provisions conserve and protect natural components, fauna, flora, picturesque sites, and in particular, geological and hydrological sites, against all destruction, deterioration, and disfiguration caused by humans.».
Thanks to that definition, the French authorities have been able to classify and protect several hundred sites in 70 departments.