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Project Description
Project Description
1.1 Project Summary Mauritius has a biodiversity rich in endemic species, which have evolved in the eight million year history of the island. Since the human colonization in the 17thC there have been high rates of plant and animal extinctions and many species have become threatened. Conservation programmes have achieved significant progress in halting and slowing biodiversity loss. These include the recovery of the populations of the formerly Critically Endangered and endemic Mauritius Kestrel Falcopunctatus, Pink Pigeon Nesoenasmayeri, Echo Parakeet Psittaculaeques, and increases in tens of plant species including the Critically Endangered Dombeyamauritiana, Hyophorbelagenicaulis, Psiadiacataractaeand Elaeocarpusbojeri. In parallel with the species recovery there has been restoration of habitats in the Black River Gorges National Park, and the rebuilding of ecosystems on islets, especially Round Island and Ile aux Aigrettes. Some of these programmes have become text-book examples of species and ecosystem restoration, putting Mauritius as one of the countries in the forefront of saving biodiversity. The total forest land in Mauritius is 47,181 ha. (2.5% of the island); 47% of this forested land is state owned, the remainder is free-hold or leased to the private sector by the state. The extent of native forest is however very small and areas with more than 50% native plant cover is about 2,600 ha., less than 2% of the total area of the island (186,000 ha.). This good quality native forest is mainly in the Black River Gorges National Park and in the Bambous Mountains in the east of Mauritius. None of these native forests are safe from degradation since they are being affected by invasive alien species such as rats Rattusspp., deer Cervustimorensis, pigs Susscrofa, Indian Mynah Acridotherestristis, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotusjocosus, Strawberry Guava Psidiumcattleianum, privet Ligustrumrobustum, and Traveller s Palm Ravenalamadagascariensis. Strategies to save native biodiversity need to include the private sector since much of Mauritius wildlife survives on private land. One of the largest and most important areas of privately owned land for native wildlife is the Ferney Valley (approximately 600 ha.) in the Bambous Mountains. The valley is owned by the Mauritian Company, Ferney Ltd. In 2008 a core conservation zone of approximately 175 ha. was created and the Vall e de Ferney Conservation Trust, with a duration of 25 years, set up to manage this area. The Bambous Mountains cover an area of 4,754 ha, of which a significant proportion is privately owned or managed (Appendix 5). These mountains have been identified as a priority area for expansion of the Protected Area Network (PAN) project for the Republic of Mauritius, funded by the Government of Mauritius and the United Nations Development Programme.Ferney will be the first site in the Bambous Mountains to benefit from the three-year funding period under the PAN Project and will enable additional areas of forest to be restored. Conservation in the Ferney Valley, and the involvement of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, began in 1987 when Mauritius Kestrels were reintroduced to the valley, and later to the whole of the Bambous Mountains. The Ferney Valley had traditionally been a deer hunting estate but the whole area was threatened by a proposed highway, and in 2004 a protest was launched to stop the development, and the destruction of the wildlife that would have been caused. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation was a key player in this, providing information and advice to decision makers and contributing to stakeholder meetings. In October 2005, the Government halted the road construction based on the high biodiversity value of the area and especially because of its Mauritius Kestrel population. Critically Endangered species of plants had been discovered along the proposed road track including Pandanusmacrostigma, P. iceryi, Eugenia bojeri and Olaxpsittacorum. In early 2006, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation developed a strategic document, called the The Ferney Valley A Vision for the Future and worked with the Valley de Ferney Ltd advising on nature trails and training conservation staff and eco-tour guides. The valley was opened to the public in November 2006, and officially opened by the Prime Minister in August 2008, when the Vall e de Ferney Conservation Trust was also launched. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has continued to work closely with the Vall e de Ferney Conservation Trust to monitor and manage the biodiversity and to advise on ecotourism. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2013 between the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Vall e de Conservation Trust to continue and develop the conservation management of the valley and its endemic species. The following ten priorities have been identified and it is for these that we are seeking funding: Train twelve Vall e de Ferney Conservation Trust restoration staff in the principles and techniques of habitat restoration. Train twelve Vall e de Ferney Conservation Trust staff in nursery practice to facilitate the increase in its native plant production from 3,000 to at least 5,000 seedlings annually. Most of these will be planted into managed areas of forest. Increase the number of searches for rare plants to look for new populations. Seeds and cuttings of the rarest will be harvested to propagate the species in the nursery. Restore 9 ha. of forest in the valley, providing hab
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