September 18th, 2015

The completion of the Life+ Cap DOM programme!

After five years of work, the Life+ Cap DOM programme, supported by the European Commission and…
August 31st, 2015

[Video] The STOC in French Guiana

Since 2012, GEPOG has been running a STOC (point count) survey in French Guiana, along with the…
August 25th, 2015

[Video] SEOR: a look back over the five years of the programme

A few weeks before the end of the Life+ Cap DOM programme, François-Xavier Couzi, Director of…


Biodiversity Hotspot

Population : 802,000 inhabitants
Area : 2,512 km²
Official regional languages : 1 (Réunionese Creole)
Highest point : Piton des neiges (3,071m)
Environments : Tropical rainforest (« colored wood »), semi-dry forest, highland wet prairies, lava rock, ravines

Formed three million years ago from the lava flows of the Piton de la Fournaise, the island of Réunion is located in the Indian Ocean in the Mascarene archipelago, 700 km from Madagascar and 170 km from the island of Mauritius. Réunion’s landscapes are steep, contrasted and strikingly beautiful.

Cilaos, Réunion National Park, M. Salamolard

Three cirques carve into the island’s land forms, born of the mountain’s collapse onto itself : Salasie, Mafate and Cilaos, down which torrents and waterfalls pour. These unique formations are dotted with hamlets known as îlets. In the ravines, on the slopes and ramparts, nature has been extraordinarily well preserved, thanks to its inaccessibility. Réunion mountain tamarins, low-altitude tropical rainforest, known locally as « forêt de bois de couleur » (forest of colored wood) and arborescent ferns cover the slopes. Forests are more or less dense depending on the altitude, exposure and humidity.

Like many tropical islands, Réunion is home to numerous endemic species : of the 850 plant species present, 230 are endemic, as are more than half of the 18 nesting bird species, including the tuit-tuit or Réunion cuckooshrike, the great-winged petrel and the Barau’s petrel. They are also among the most endangered species on the island and classified as critically endangered globally. In Réunion, it has been possible to study the populations of ancient birds in the written accounts of the first explorers (starting in the 16th century) and through research on sub-fossil bones. Since the arrival of humans on the island in 1665, and with them, of goats, cattle, cats and rats, 22 bird species have become extinct. The introduction of rats and cats in particular was catastrophic for native biodiversity, which was not adapted to terrestrial predators.

Urbanization and the indirect impact of certain human activities on habitats are also factors contributing to the decline of the natural heritage. The Réunion harrier or papangue, the only nesting raptor on the island, is threatened by poaching, the indirect impact of agricultural pesticides and aerial cables. It is a globally endangered species.

The new Réunion National Park, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2010, is proof of the will of the Réunionese people and national institutions to preserve and develop the island’s extraordinary biodiversity.

Keywords : Réunion