The primary forest on the island of Reunion is remarkable from every point of view. In its bosom there is an exceptional concentration of biodiversity and tropical forest ecosystems. The preservation of this earthly patrimony is a priority for the authorities.
The primary forest of Reuniion is a major biological gem in the western Indian Ocean. Its main attraction is that it has never been modified by man (we therefore call it “primary”). This fact gives it a concentration of a wealth of incredible natural ecosystems, and thereby a remarkable biodiversity. Over 1,000 rare, indigenous and endemic species have been recorded here. This makes it a reference for biodiversity worldwide.
The forest accounts for 30% of the island (as compared to just 5% of the neighbouring island of Mauritius). It is very diverse, and adapts perfectly to the constraints imposed on it by the climate, the terrain and the nature of the soil.
The high altitude moorland pushes up from the bottom of its cirques. Species like the Bois de cabri blanc, the bois olive and the bois bete are rare and under threat of extinction. Beween 1,500m and 1,900m in altitude, the forest is dominated by tamarinds. Just below these are the humid medium altitude forests (the “bois de couleurs des Bas” forest). This type of forest is concentrated on the east and south of the island and incluides a large number of rare and protected species. Lower down again (between 800m and 1,000m on the windy coast and between 1,000m and 1,200m away from the wind) we find the pluvial mountain forests (the “bois de couleurs de Haut”).
These lush forests are particularly well preserved in the high altitudes (they are 60% intact), but the forests lower down are threathened by human activity (only 1% are intact). The French authorities have established forest management systems adapted to the special requirements of Renuion, in order to protect these ecosystems from the dangers of the foresrtry, agriculrture and tourist industry.
These actions, led by the national forestry office and by the local government over the past number of years, have helped save a large part of these state-owned parts of the pluvial mountain forests. The forestry industry is controlled by different coersive measures and also by incentives like subsidies for replanting given to private entrepreneurs. Since 1981, the creation of biological reserves in Reunion have also helped save many hectares of forest under threat of extinction due to human activity.