Pillon, Yohan , Munzinger, Jérôme .
Under my Amborella: Conservation challenges for the New Caledonian flora.
New Caledonia is an archipelago in the south-west Pacific considered as a biodiversity hotspot for both its terrestrial and marine biota. Surrounded by the largest lagoon in the world, New Caledonia is well-known for its exceptional flora, reaching a level of endemism of ca. 75 % , with ca. 100 endemic genera and five endemic families. New Caledonia hosts a high concentration of conifers (particularly Araucariaceae) and basal angiosperms, the most famous of which being Amborella trichopoda. About one third of New Caledonia is covered by ultramafic soils (“serpentine”) which have exceptional level of endemism (up to 92%). These soils also contain high level of nickel, the main resource of New Caledonia. As the price of nickel is increasing steadily, the development of mining activities has accelerated over the past few years, with two major projects of nickel refining plants. In addition to nickel mining, fires, invasive species and climate change also represent major threats to the biodiversity of New Caledonia. Conserving the flora of New Caledonia is a difficult task considering the limited knowledge of some groups of plants and the importance of micro-endemism. Micro-endemism in New Caledonia is enhanced by its complex matrix of soil types, its topography with endemism on mountain tops or in valleys, and the multiple islands surrounding Grande Terre. There is an urgent need to preserve the last remnants of primary vegetation that are already severely fragmented, with improvement of mining practices, including ecological restoration after exploitation. Most conservation efforts have been focused so far on the dry forest, of which there is only 1% left of its original surface. However more attention should be given now to the rainforest on ultramafic soils, which is more diverse and under high pressure.
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1 - Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement, Laboratoire de Botanique, bp A5, Noumea, 98848, New Caledonia
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2008
Time: 8:45 AM