Protecting endangered species
Since humans first inhabited Mauritius Island in the early 1600s, the region has lost as much as over 95% of its natural habitats. The destruction and weakening of these ecosystems are the result of agricultural and forestry operations, a depletion of natural resources, and urban development. The spread of invasive plant and animal species introduced to the area has also contributed to the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. Along with Madagascar, the islands of the Republic of Mauritius represent a "hotspot" of biodiversity unlike any other, with one of the highest endemism levels in the world.
Thanks to the introduction of environmental public policy and the strides taken over the last 15 years, considerable progress has been made, but the Mauritian island ecosystems remain at great risk: 267 of the 750 species of vascular plants found on the island today are endemic, and of these native plants, 89% are endangered.
Since the 1970s, the Conservatoire Botanique National de Brest houses a large proportion of the endangered plants of the oceanic islands, especially the Mascarene islands. It is the largest collection in the world in terms of the number and rarity of taxa originating from these islands. This collection effort is often critical and helps protect a number of plant species which would have otherwise disappeared. Since 2007, the Conservatoire has launched a number of conservation initiatives and collaborative projects with various local partners. Today, the project carried out in collaboration with the Klorane Botanical Foundation represents a new dynamic approach that focuses its conservation efforts on those species of the Mauritian flora that are most at risk.
Participants from Mauritius and Brest during the first project workshop: