Ministry of environment and sustainable development




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MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT


Fourth National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity



Republic of Mauritius



August 2010


Acknowledgements
The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development wishes to thank the following organisations. Valuable inputs and information provided during the preparation of the Fourth National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity are gratefully acknowledged.


  1. National Parks and Conservation Service, Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security

  2. Agricultural Services, Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security

  3. Forestry Services, Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security

  4. Ministry of Fisheries and Rodrigues

  5. Rodrigues Regional Assembly

  6. Mauritius Meteorological Services

  7. University of Mauritius

  8. Food and Agricultural Research Council

  9. Agricultural Research and Extension Unit

  10. Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, and last but not least,

  11. Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

The Ministry also acknowledges the technical and financial supports of the UNDP Country Office, the UNEP, the GEF and the CBD Secretariat in the preparation and submission of the Fourth National Report on the Convention on Biological Diversity.



Table of Contents












Page

Abbreviations

5

Executive Summary

6
















Chapter I – Overview of Status, Trends and Threats

11




1.1

Introduction

11




1.2

Status of Biodiversity

11







1.2.1

Forest/ Terrestrial Biodiversity

11










Status

11










Threats

14







1.2.2

Agricultural Biodiversity and Biotechnology

18










Status

18










Threats

23







1.2.3

Inland Freshwater, Coastal and Marine Biodiversity

23










Inland Freshwater Biodiversity Status

23










Coastal and Marine Biodiversity

25










Threats

26
















Chapter II – Current Status of the NBSAP for the Republic of Mauritius

32




2.1

The NBSAP process in Mauritius

32




2.2

Vision and Strategic Objectives

32




2.3

Progress in the Implementation of the NBSAP

33




2.4

Challenges to Implementation of NBSAP and Effectiveness of Current Strategy

45




2.5

Successful Partnerships

45
















Chapter III – Sectoral and Cross- Sectoral Integration / Mainstreaming of Biodiversity

51




3.1

Importance of Biodiversity in the Mauritian Economy

51




3.2

Strategies and Plans with the CBD objectives integrated

51




3.3

Legal/ Regulatory Framework relevant to Biodiversity

55




3.4

Tools and Processes to mainstream/ integrate Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use

56




3.5

Institutions mandated to deal with Biodiversity related matters

57




3.6

List of Main Statutory Committees/ Board Set up to coordinate and advise on Biodiversity related matters

58
















Chapter IV – Conclusions: Progress towards 2010 Target and Implementation of Strategic Plan

59




4.1

Progress Towards 2010 Targets

59




4.2

Status on the Targets for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

72




4.3

Status on the Programme of Work on Protected Areas

77





























































List of Tables






Page










Table 1

Native Diversity of Selected Groups in Mauritius

13

Table 2

Current Status and Size of Terrestrial Conservation Areas in the Mainland of Mauritius and offshore Islets

14

Table 3

Breeds and Production Systems by Species in Mauritius

20

Table 4

Summary of Threats to biodiversity in Mauritius

31

Table 5

Status of Implementation of NBSAP for the Republic of Mauritius

33

Table 6

Evolution of the Population of Endemic Birds (1975- 2009)

47

Table 7

Native Reptile Species found on the Northern Islets

49



List of Figures







Page










Figure 1

The Fragmentation of Native Forest on the Mainland of Mauritius

16

Figure 2

Reported Cases of Fish Mortalities

30










List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
AREU Agricultural Research Extension Unit

CBD Convention on Biological Diversity

CBO Community Based Organisation

CMA Conservation Management Area

CoP Conference of Parties

EPA Environment Protection Act 2002

EIA Environmental Impact Assessment

ESA Environmentally Sensitive Area

FS Forestry Services

FARC Food and Agricultural Research Council

GEF Global Environment Facility

GMO Genetically Modified Organism

ICZM Integrated Coastal Zone Management

IPM Integrated Pest Management

IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature

MDG Millennium Development Goal

MoAIFS Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security

MoE Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development

MoHL Ministry of Housing and Lands

MPA Marine Protected Area

MSIRI Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute

NBSAP National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

NDS National Development Strategy

NEP National Environmental Policy

NES National Environmental Strategy

NGO Non-Governmental Organisation

NPCS National Parks and Conservation Service

NRCC National Report Coordination Committee

PAN Protected Area Network

RRA Rodrigues Regional Assembly

SBSTTA Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice

SST Sea Surface Temperature

UNDP Co United Nations Development Programme Country Office

UNEP United Nations Environment Programme

UOM University of Mauritius

Executive Summary
Participatory process in the preparation of the Fourth National Report
The preparation of the report was carried out through a thorough participatory process involving the relevant stakeholders from the public and private sectors, statutory bodies, research organisations, academics and NGOs.
Three thematic working groups were established as follows:
Group 1: Forest and Terrestrial Biodiversity

Group 2: Agrobiodiversity and Biotechnology



Group 3: Inland Water, Marine and Coastal Aquatic Biodiversity
Each group was facilitated by a local resource person/ team leader. A number of meetings/ working sessions were carried out in each of the working group.
A national consultant was hired to consolidate the inputs from the three groups. Further consultations were also held with the National CBD Focal point, the SBSTTA Focal Point and the three resource persons. This process culminated in the preparation of a draft Fourth National Report.
The draft report was circulated to all relevant stakeholders including the Secretariat and UNDP CO for views and comments. Finally, the report was finalized by incorporating views and suggestions received.
A ‘National Report Coordination Committee’ (NRCC) was set up to steer the whole preparation process. The meetings of the NRCC were chaired by the representative of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

Key Findings
The flora and fauna of Mauritius has a relatively high level of diversity and endemism as a result of the island’s location, age, isolation and varied topography. Mauritius has been identified as a Centre of Plant Diversity by IUCN while the Mascarenes region comprising of Mauritius (including Rodrigues) and France (Réunion) have been included in the list of Indian Ocean islands biodiversity hotspot.
As at to date, the extent of reasonable quality native forest (i.e., with more than 50% native plant canopy cover) is currently estimated at around 2,600 ha, representing less than 2% of the total area of the island. The remaining native terrestrial biodiversity is primarily confined to marginal lands of low suitability to agriculture and urban development such as steep mountain and valley slopes or to marshy and rocky soils where the land is largely undevelopable.
A general status of biodiversity in Mauritius is as follows:

Flora and Fauna


  • 685 species of indigenous flowering plant have been recorded in Mauritius, of which 267 are endemic (Mauritius has six endemic plant genera), and 150 endemic to the Mascarene Archipelago.




  • 89 % of the Mauritius endemic flora is considered threatened (Mauritius has one of the most threatened island floras in the world). 61 of the country’s indigenous species are already classified as extinct. 141 of the flowering Mascarene endemic plant species are classified as Critically Endangered (89 taxa are represented by 10 or fewer known individuals in the wild and 5 taxa are represented by only a single known individual), 55 species are Endangered and 98 are classified as Vulnerable.




  • Rodrigues has three endemic genera of plants with 133 indigenous plant species. 123 species remain, including 37 endemics. Nine of the endemic species are comprised of less than 10 mature individuals in the wild, including three species, which are known from just a single individual (Ramosmania rodriguesii, Dombeya rodriguesiana and Gouania leguatii).




  • There are about 200 species, subspecies and varieties of pteridophytes, of which 13 species are endemic, and 40 are extinct.




  • There are 207 taxa lower plants consisting of 89 genera of mosses and 59 genera of hepatics.




  • 24 out of the 52 native species of vertebrates that were known to have occurred on Mauritius and the adjacent islets, are now extinct, including the Dodo (Raphus cucullatus), a giant parrot (Lophopsittacus mauritianus) and two species of giant tortoise (Cylindrapsis spp.)



  • Of the three species of fruit bat (Pteropus niger, P subniger and P. rodricensis) known to have occurred, only one (the Mauritian fruit bat, P. niger) remains in Mauritius and is still locally common, but P. subniger is extinct. P. rodricensis still occurs on Rodrigues.




  • Out of 30 species of land birds known/ stated to have been present on Mauritius, 12 of these have escaped extinction. Of these 12, 9 are threatened.




  • Of the 17 native reptile species known/ stated to have once inhabited mainland Mauritius, only 12 remain, 11 of which are endemic. Seven of these are restricted to remnant populations on the northern offshore islets. The burrowing boa (Bolyeria multicarinata) was last seen in 1975 and it is probably extinct.




  • There are 39 native species of butterfly, of which five are endemic, and 125 known native species of land snail of which 43 are already extinct.



\Coastal and Marine Biodiversity


  • To date, some 1700 marine species have been recorded around Mauritius including 786 fish of which about 5% are of commercial value (42 species). Seven species of shrimps of the genus Peneid can be found near Mauritian shores and two species inhabit deeper waters. There is one endemic species of oyster (Crassostrea edulis).




  • Taxonomic studies have been made on forty-nine amphipod (Crustacea) species, 26 melitids and 23 corophiideans. Among these, nineteen new species have been recorded and described and twelve species are new records for the island. A high degree of endemism (38%) is recorded in the melitid and corophiideans of Mauritius.




  • 2 species of marine turtles namely Chelonia midas and Eretmochelys imbricata are found in Mauritius waters.




  • In Rodrigues, taxonomic studies and checklists have been published for marine algae, corals, crustaceans (amphipods and isopods), molluscs, echinoderms and coastal fishes.




  • 160 species of coral identified including an endemic species, Acropora rodriguensis

  • 494 fish species recorded, 9 new fish species recorded, out of which 2 are endemic species Pomacentrus rodriguesensis and the dottyback, Chlidichthys foudioides.

  • 109 species of bivalve and 74 species of echinoderms

  • Coral reefs in Rodrigues are relatively healthy with up to 70% live coral cover recorded on the reef slopes, with low dead coral and macro-algal cove



Ecosystem conservation, protection and management


  • 12 legally proclaimed protected areas on the mainland - one National Park, seven Nature Reserves, four reserves (three forest reserves and one bird sanctuary) - covering a total area of 7,292 ha.




  • In Rodrigues, Grande Montagne (14 ha), Anse Quitor (10 ha) and two islets, Ile aux Sables (8 ha) and Ile aux Cocos (14.4 ha) have all been declared Nature Reserves (under the Forest and Reserves Act 1983).




  • 8 Islets National Park, 7 Nature Reserves and one Ancient Monument - covering a total area of 735 ha. The Ile aux Aigrettes Nature Reserve is leased for conservation management purposes to the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF), one of the active NGOs. Two islets (Flat and Gabriel islands) are leased for tourism activities to a state and private companies respectively.




  • The Forestry Service and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) have jointly undertaken significant work in the restoration of Grande Montagne and Anse Quitor reserves where about 80,000 native plants have been planted. There is a private project by Francois Leguat Ltd to recreate 20 hectares of original forest at Anse Quitor. 35,000 native and endemic plants have been planted.

  • 6,553 ha of privately owned or administered land is classified as Mountain Reserve or River Reserve in terms of the Forest and Reserves Act of 1983 and many of this areas have been deforested and/or are void of native plants.




  • 635 ha of undeveloped land within the Pas Géometriques areas acting as a physical buffer to coastal developments.




  • 50% of the state plantation areas (some 6,000 ha of exotic plantations) have been set aside for protection of ecosystem services (water catchments, soil protection, etc.)




  • As at December 2009, some 92 endemic gardens have been created in primary and secondary educational institutions




  • Marine Protected Areas




  • Marine Protected Areas for mainland Mauritius cover an extent of 7 190 hectares, including six fishing reserves and two marine parks. The Blue Bay Marine Parks has been listed as the second Ramsar site.




  • In Rodrigues, a high percentage of the marine ecosystem is still in pristine state. Among measures being implemented to mitigate factors affecting the marine environment, is the setting up of a marine protected area in Rodrigues, under the South East Marine Protected Area (SEMPA), funded by UNDP/GEF/RRA under the project “Partnerships in Mauritius and Rodrigues for Marine Protected Areas.” The project covers a total area of 43 km².




  • There are 5 designated marine reserves covering an area of 16 km2. 4 new marine reserves in the north of the island at Grand Bassin (14.1km2), Passe Demi (7.2km2), Passe Cabri (1.5km2) and Riviere Banane (1.5km2) have been identified following consultations with fishing communities. Same have now been agreed by the Rodrigues Regional Assembly and management regulations have been drafted.




  • The lagoon and sea (up to an extent of 1 km from the HWM line) surrounding the 8 declared Islet National Parks also form part of the Islet National Park. This accounts for an area about 36 km2.



Threats
The main threats to biodiversity under the various thematic areas are, firstly, potential loss of biodiversity and secondly, degradation/ loss of habitat. Key drivers identified are land clearing for development and others purposes (mainly in privately owned land), invasive alien species, habitat modification for deer ranching, pollution from land based sources and activities (mainly non point sources), and adverse impacts of climate change. Climate change is gaining prominence as the impacts are increasingly understood.

Implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP)
Conservation, protection and management of threatened native biodiversity as well as offshore islets management have been achieved through effective collaboration and partnerships by the relevant government departments, private sector organizations, academic institutions, research organizations, statutory bodies, CBOs and NGOs. The NBSAP for the Republic Mauritius was completed and approved by the government of Mauritius through the Cabinet of Ministers in December 2006. The Cabinet also approved the setting up of a steering committee under the chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security to steer and monitor the implementation of the NBSAP. NBSAP also reflects on the relevant CBD COP decisions, the 2010 Biodiversity targets and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Targets have been set for the year 2015 and implementation is underway. However, measures in the NBSAP have met with varying degrees of success.
The key constraints and challenges noted are


  • Shortage of staff and turnover of staff

  • Technology transfer (need for latest state of art technologies)

  • Capacity building

  • Impacts of climate change (both extreme events and slow onset), and

  • Funding

The above-referred challenges coupled with external socio- economic factors inherent to a SIDS have rendered the current strategy for biodiversity management weak in thematic area such as agrobiodiversity.



Future Priorities
Biodiversity conservation, protection and management remain one of the key priorities for the Government of Mauritius. Future priority measures include, inter alia,


  1. Continue with implementation identified in the NBSAP and achievement of the targets set,

  2. Implementation of the National Invasive Alien Species Control Strategy and Action Plan (2010-2019),

  3. Management of Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in collaboration and partnerships with competent organizations including Research organization, academics, NGOs and CBOs,

  4. Development of legislative framework for protection of ESAs,

  5. Enhance Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

  6. Strengthening conservation of marine biodiversity through establishment of MPAs.

  7. Strengthening conservation and management of agricultural biodiversity,

  8. Enhance Monitoring Programme to establish trend with regard to impacts of climate change, and

  9. Climate proofing biodiversity conservation, management and sustainable use.


Chapter I: Overview of Status and Threats
1.1 Introduction
The Republic of Mauritius has a total land area of 2045 km2, length of coastline of 496 km, 16 840 km2 of territorial sea, and 1.9 million km2 of Exclusive Economic Zone. It consists of two main islands, Mauritius (1865 km2) and Rodrigues (109 km2) and two groups of outer islands, namely the St Brandon Archipelago (3 km2) and Agalega (c. 21 km2). 49 offshore islets surround Mauritius while eighteen islets lie in the lagoon of Rodrigues.
The systematic management and conservation of the threatened native biodiversity and its offshore islets started in the early 1940s, and as at to date considerable progress has been achieved through effective collaboration and partnerships with relevant government departments, private sector organizations, academic institutions, research organizations, statutory bodies, CBOs and NGOs.

1.2 Status of Biodiversity
Biogeographically, Mauritius including Rodrigues forms part of the Mascarene Archipelago, along with Reunion Island (France) found in the Indian Ocean. All three are of volcanic origin and share many similarities in terms of their biodiversity.
Around 39% of all higher plants, 80% of non-marine birds, 80% of reptiles and 40% of the bat species are endemic to the island. Much of the indigenous animals’ species has disappeared from Mauritius over the past 400 years of human settlement as a result of the introduction of invasive alien species, and land transformation.
1.2.1 Forest/ terrestrial biodiversity


  1. Status

The flora and fauna of Mauritius has a relatively high level of diversity and endemism due to the island’s location, age, isolation and varied topography. Mauritius has been identified as a Centre of Plant Diversity by IUCN and the Mascarenes (Mauritius, La Réunion and Rodrigues) have been included in the Madagascar and Indian Ocean islands biodiversity hotspot.


The status of the flora is the following:


  • The extent of reasonable quality native forest (i.e., that with more than 50% native plant canopy cover) is currently estimated at around 2,600 ha, representing less than 2% of the total area of the island. The remaining native terrestrial biodiversity is primarily confined to marginal lands of low suitability to agriculture and urban development such as steep mountain and valley slopes or to marshy and rocky soils where the land is largely undevelopable. Such areas occur mainly in and around the Black River Gorges National Park in the South West, followed by the Bambous Mountain Range in the South East and the Moka-Port Louis Ranges in the North West. A few isolated mountain peaks also harbour remnants of native forest, for example, Corps de Garde, Trois Mamelles and Le Morne Brabant.




  • 15 vegetation types (based on vegetation structure and physiognomy) have been classified, ranging from marsh communities to scrub associations to forest communities




  • 685 species of indigenous flowering plant have been recorded in Mauritius, of which 267 are endemic (Mauritius has six endemic plant genera), and 150 endemic to the Mascarene Archipelago (refer to Table 1)




  • 89 % of the Mauritius endemic flora is considered threatened (Mauritius has one of the most threatened island floras in the world). 61 of the country’s indigenous species are already classified as extinct. 141 of the flowering Mascarene endemic plant species are classified as Critically Endangered (89 taxa are represented by 10 or fewer known individuals in the wild and 5 taxa are represented by only a single known individual), 55 species are Endangered and 98 are classified as Vulnerable.




  • There are about 200 species, subspecies and varieties of pteridophytes, of which 13 species are endemic, and 40 are extinct




  • There are 207 taxa lower plants consisting of 89 genera of mosses and 59 genera of hepatics




  • Rodrigues has three endemic genera of plants with 133 indigenous plant species have been recorded (Wiehe 1949, Cadet 1975). 123 species remain, including 37 endemics (Strahm 1989). Nine of the endemic species are comprised of less than 10 mature individuals in the wild, including three species, which are known from just a single individual (Ramosmania rodriguesii, Dombeya rodriguesiana and Gouania leguatii).

The status of the fauna is the following:




  • 24 out of the 52 native species of vertebrates that were known to have occurred on Mauritius and the adjacent islets, are now extinct, including the Dodo (Raphus cucullatus), a giant parrot (Lophopsittacus mauritianus) and two species of giant tortoise (Cylindrapsis spp.)



  • The only native mammal is bats. Of the three species of fruit bat (Pteropus niger, P subniger and P. rodricensis) known to have occurred, only one (the Mauritian fruit bat, P. niger) remains in Mauritius and is still locally common, but P. subniger is extinct. P. rodricensis still occurs on Rodrigues. There is one endemic insectivorous bat species (Taphozous mauritianus) and one native also found on Reunion (Mormopterus acetabulosus).




  • Out of 30 species of land birds known/ stated to have been present on Mauritius, 12 of these have escaped extinction. Of these 12, 9 are threatened.




  • Of the 17 native reptile species known/ stated to have once inhabited mainland Mauritius, only 12 remain, 11 of which are endemic. Seven of these are restricted to remnant populations on the northern offshore islets. The burrowing boa (Bolyeria multicarinata) was last seen in 1975 and it is probably extinct.




  • There are 39 native species of butterfly, of which five are endemic, and 125 known native species of land snail of which 43 are already extinct. Of the invertebrate fauna, only butterflies, ants (Fisher et al. in 2005 – http://www.antweb.org/mauritius.jsp), butterflies (Lepipotera), Hymenoptera, Homoptera, Nochidae, Grylacrididae, Buprestidae, and some insect genera (e.g. Cratopus, Syzygopsis) and land snails have been studied.

Table 1: Native diversity of selected groups in Mauritius, including the number of extinctions (numbers in brackets indicate the number of endemic species).






Number of native species

% species endemic

Number of extinct species

Number of extant species

Angiosperms1

685 (267)

39%

61 (42)

624 (225)

Mammals2

5 (2)

40%

2 (1)

3 (1)

Birds2

30 (24)

80%

18 (15)

12 (9)

Reptiles2

17 (16)

94%

5 (5)

12 (11)

Butterflies3

37 (5)

14%

4 (1)

33 (4)

Snails4

125 (81)

65%

43 (36)

82 (45)

  1. Baider unpl.; 2. Cheke & Hume 2008; 3. Williams 2007; 4. Griffiths & Florens 2006.

Updated from NBSAP (2006-2015)

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