New Ramsar Sites on Corsica and Île de Mayotte
The government of France has designated its two latest Wetlands of International Importance, bringing that Party's total Ramsar Sites to 38, covering 3,289,306 hectares. As summarized from the Ramsar Information Sheets by Ramsar's Kati Wenzel, La Vasière des Badamiers (Île de Mayotte - océan indien) (115 hectares, 12°47'S 045°16'E), on the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, consists of a mud flat area partially covered by mangroves. Sea grass beds and different species of algae play a key role in maintaining the ecological character of this highly productive and diverse ecosystem, which is used as a refuge as well as a breeding, feeding and wintering site by many bird species, especially waders, but also by fish and turtles such as the Green Sea Turtle. The site is internationally important for the migration of the Lesser Crested Tern, as well as for the presence of several species endemic to the Comores Islands and Madagascar like the globally endangered Madagascar Heron and the spider Idioctis intertidalis living in the intertidal zone.
The site acts as an important filter upstream of the connected lagoon especially in terms of urban discharge. Siltation, coastal erosion and urban development threaten the site. An educational path to experience the mangrove ecosystem and natural environment of Mayotte is under development. The site itself is partially owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral and partially by the state.
Photos courtesy of the Conservatoire du Littoral.
Equally interesting is the Tourbière de Moltifao (33 hectares, 42°28'52"N 009°09'13"E), a Forest Nature Reserve and Natura 2000 site that is the largest active raised bog on the island of Corsica southeast of the French mainland, located in the watershed of the Asco valley. In terms of flora, several species are protected on a national, European and international level, including three Sphagnum species and the orchid species Liparis loeselii, listed as vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List and subject to a national action plan. In terms of fauna, numerous regionally and nationally protected species are present, including 9 bat species (e.g., Greater mouse-eared bat Myotis myotis), 4 reptile species (e.g., the European Pond Turtle Emys orbicularis) and 2 amphibian species. More than 80% of the bird species occurring in the site are protected on a national level, and several endemic species are present, such as the Corsican Fire Salamander Salamandra corsica.
Traditional hunting is practiced in the site and it has been used for environmental education activities since 2008, mainly on World Wetlands Day. Threats include river bank erosion caused by flooding, the spread of the invasive plant Ailanthus altissima, and the use of agricultural fertilizers upstream. A management plan exists for the Forest Nature Reserve.
Photo: OEC - L. Sorba