Like any French National park, the Parc du Mercantour has a park core (formerly the central zone) and a buffer zone (formerly the peripheral zone).
The core spreads over 68,500 hectares. The role of the Park is to improve knowledge and protection of nature; just a few traditional hamlets are inhabited in season. Boasting an extraordinary heritage, this area is subject to regulations that everybody is required to respect to participate in its conservation.
Its “buffer zone”, for its part, currently covers 136,500 ha, but will undoubtedly change with the new law. It has around 18,000 permanent residents distributed among 28 communes, o/w 22 are in the Alpes Maritimes. The Park encourages economic development, but always with the constant desire to harmonise the impact of human activities and environmental protection.