June 15, 2021

The Glorious Islands become a national nature reserve

Good news for green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and nested (Eretmochelys imbricata) who come to make their nests there, sharks and rays which pass by and a few others: long-beaked dolphins, whales, reef fish… The Glorieuses National Nature Reserve is officially created. She is 170e of France. The decree, dated June 8, was published in Official newspaper Thursday June 10. The Indian Ocean archipelago, located in the Mozambique Channel, north-west of Madagascar, therefore trades its title of simple marine park acquired in 2012, for a more protective status.

The classification of these atolls and these islands, which represent oases of life in the middle of the ocean, was a bit laborious. The first prefectural decrees aiming to limit the impacts on these ecosystems date back to 1975. The objective of the decree published on Thursday 10 June is to conserve biodiversity over its 4.3 km² of land and in its waters under French jurisdiction which extend over 43,700 km² around.

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Involve the riparian states

With the advice of a scientific council and an advisory committee of the reserve, the prefect administrator of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) has three years to develop a management plan capable of “Contribute to strengthening neighboring ecosystems in a context of strong anthropogenic pressures, in particular linked to illegal fishing and climate change”, says the decree, signed by five ministers. It is expected that the riparian states will be there “Associates”.

The archipelago and, overall, the islands of the western Indian Ocean constitute one of the 35 “hot spots” of terrestrial biodiversity. There are land birds like the Glorious Bulbul (Hypsipetes madagascariensis), a local passerine bird, six species of reptiles, two of which are endemic, insects and native plants too… But since the human settlement in 1882 on the island of Grande Glorieuse – France took possession of the place ten years later -, many colonies of seabirds have gradually disappeared. Scientists identify at least five species that were extinct between 1880 and 2004, due to hunting, collecting eggs and guano, disturbance caused by humans, cats and rats introduced there, but especially the destruction of the native forest, replaced by a coconut grove. Sooty terns (Onychoprion fuscatus) will now nest on the Ile du Lys.

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