Mayotte (France)

The French overseas department of Mayotte is located in the biogeographical area of the Comoros Archipelago, at the heart of the Mozambique Channel and close to Madagascar. Mayotte hosts a variety of land and marine tropical ecosystems which are of major ecological value, despite significant landscape changes due to the exploitation of first sugar cane and later rice. For its limited territory, Mayotte’s natural landscape hosts a vast array of rare biodiversity. Landscapes range from tropical forests located on summits and ridges, wetlands amid alluvial plains, bays covered in mangroves, coasts outlined by coral reefs and surrounded by marine flora.
Baobabs, Mayotte

Mayotte, a volcanic island more than 8 million years old, shares its flora with Madagascar and, at a regional level, it is considered as 1 of the 34 world’s biodiversity hotspots. Due to the subsidence of the island that gradually took place over the past 500,000 years, a large coral reef and lagoon surrounding the island emerged. These are exceptional for their size (1,000 km2) and for the rich biodiversity they host (more than 760 marine fishes of which 17 are threatened according to IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, 581 marine arthropod species, more than 450 cnidaria and 24 marine mammals).

In the most forested areas, the terrestrial fauna consists of several endemic and threatened species. It is important to note that Mayotte has recently been recognized as one of the 218 world’s endemic bird areas (more than 130 species recorded of which 2 are endemic, the Mayotte Sunbird and the Mayotte Drongo, one endangered species according to the IUCN Red List and the Malagasy Pond Heron). The Brown Lemur and the Fruit Bat are among the symbols of Mayotte’s fauna and are today protected by international conventions. Reptiles (20 known species of which 7 are endemic) and terrestrial molluscs (98 known species of which 49 are endemic to Mayotte and the Comoros) are also indicators of the significant diversity and uniqueness of the island.

The terrestrial and marine biodiversity of Mayotte deserves special attention not only for its uniqueness but also for the high fragmentation of its natural relict habitats. Although the importance of the island’s marine heritage has been recognized with the creation of a Nature Marine Park, there remains plenty of work to conserve and enhance the natural wealth of Mayotte. A BEST project is currently aiming at developing new protected areas.

Latest news

  • Fisherman, BEST, EU overseas Photo: Charly Andrault

    Start of a new BEST project


    A 3-year project 'BEST RUP' started on 15 January 2017. Its aim is to implement the pilot project 'inventory of species and habitats and environmentally sensitive areas in the French Outermost Regions (ORs)' submitted by the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Younous Omarjee.

  • Benara Mount Photo: Guillaume Viscardi

    Mayotte’s flora and forests – a threatened heritage


    Green and abundant. When visiting Mayotte you feel the ambiance of a "green island". Yet much of its forest is degraded due to very early human occupation of the island (end of the 8th century). The reduction in natural and secondary forest coverage between 1987 and 2002 concerned more than 12,000 hectares of land, according to estimations. This reduction still continues today at a pace ranging from 50 to 100 hectares per year, as urban and agricultural pressures increase and control measures are lacking.  

  • Manta ray, Mayotte Photo: Isirus

    Monitoring of biodiversity critical for Mayotte


    One of the key issues affecting Mayotte’s ability to prioritise conservation work concerns a lack of knowledge and understanding of the very biological diversity captured on and around the island. However, both IUCN French National Committee and Mayotte’s Department of Ecology are helping turn this situation around by updating inventories of the island’s species in order to provide more information for better conservation. 

  • Mangroves, Mayotte Photo: A.Bocquet

    Managing Mayotte’s under threat mangroves


    Ever since the mid 20th Century, Mayotte’s mangroves have steadily been in decline due largely to major development projects encroaching on these important biodiversity hotspots. Although measures are now being taken to rectify the situation, more action is required and this is exactly why IUCN is aiming to support Mayotte’s mangrove conservation efforts over the coming years.

  • Reef, Mayotte Photo: Isirus

    Supporting Mayotte’s Biodiversity Strategy


    Since June 2012, IUCN French National Committee has worked to help develop a Biodiversity Strategy for Mayotte. The process has involved the participation of numerous stakeholders and the organisation of several workshops to map out how the island’s rich biodiversity can be better protected. 

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