Mascarene Islands


The Mascarenhas Archipelago east of Madagascar includes Mauritius and Reunion, which for their size are the two most biodiverse plant communities in the world. The islands, of recent volcanic origin, have been colonised by plant species from the African mainland, which under the special conditions that pertain in remote islands developed into 311 endemic species, of which more than half are critically endangered. Since the 1970s two NGOs, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, have been working with the National Parks and Conservation Service to restore the forests that once covered the islands, by propagation, weed removal and revegetation, much of the work based in the Black River Gorges National Park. The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew have been assisting in the compilation of a Mauritius seed bank as a hedge against future extinctions. As of the end of 2010, 29 of 50 plant species each with fewer than ten individuals surviving in the wild had been successfully propagated

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