An exceptional heritage and its Observatory
01 September 2012 | Article
New Caledonia alone comprises of about 75% of the surface of reefs and lagoons of all French territories. Their inclusion in the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 2008 is an international recognition of their richness.
The tropical lagoons and coral reefs of New Caledonia are an outstanding example of high diversity coral reef ecosystems. They are home to 900 varieties of coral, a number of threatened fish, turtles and marine mammals, including the world’s third largest population of dugongs (Dugong dugong).
Last year, IUCN-led monitoring mission to the lagoons of New Caledonia in the Pacific Ocean archipelago looked at how the sites are managed, evaluated the impact of mining activities in the buffer zone and identified no-take zones.
This exceptional heritage requires proper management and preservation. Many public bodies and associations contribute with their actions to improve knowledge, raise awareness and preserve New Caledonia’s biodiversity.
An important tool to support biodiversity conservation is the Observatory for the Environment in New Caledonia (OEIL). The idea of creating a tool to monitor the state of the environment appeared very early in the Southern Province of the country. The growing impact of human, industrial and mining activities on New Caledonia’s environment generated the need for a true lighting tool, and decision support instrument - the Observatory.
The Observatory is closely linked to the South plant project and associated mine and the inclusion of South Grand Lagoon as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO and was initiated by the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD).
The Observatory developed 13 indicators for evaluating the state of the natural heritage, the existing pressures while providing at the same time answers to most of the biodiversity challenges coming from the most important New-Caledonian environmental actors. These indicators are meant to be a true support for researchers, managers, environmental professionals, decision-making processes but also for the broader public. The Observatory’s contribution to the implementation of biodiversity indicators were published in 2010 and the full report can be found here.