New Caledonia

New Caledonia, a French territory in the Southern Pacific, is an archipelago with an exceptional animal and plant biodiversity in a high variety of habitats and landscapes. The rate of endemism on these islands located about 1500 km from the Australian coast is particurlarly high. Endemic species (i.e. that occur only in New caledonia) include 3380 plants, 23 birds (among them, the emblematic "cagou"), 11 sweetwater fishes and an impressive number of insects ant other invertebrates, some of them still to describe. Around Hienghène, the eastern coast of the northern province features wet highland forests, a multitude of rivers, estuaries and beautiful lagoons. Precious habitats are linked to each other from the Mount Panié summit (1600 m) to shallow coral reefs. Those precious ecosystems are endangered by bushfires, erosion, mining activities and alien invasive animals and plants. Invasive animals as rats, dogs, rusa deer or so-called "electrical ants" compete with local species and can lead to their extinction. Bushfires destroy the primary vegetation and facilitate colonisation by invasive plants as well as erosion. Man can fight against these factors which endanger the precious kanak natural heritage. It goes without saying that awareness-raising of coast and mountain dwellers, which are linked to each other by a chain of ecosystems, is of primary importance.

« Knowing about something helps to protect it ». The sensibilisation of young people and adults from different villages is the key for success in the daily fight for the protection of this exceptional natural heritage.