France has designated the first Ramsar Site in New Caledonia on the occasion of World Wetlands Day. As summarized by Ms Laura Máiz-Tomé, Ramsar’s Assistant Advisor for Europe, Les Lacs du Grand Sud néo-calédonien (43,970 ha, 22°08’23’’S 166°47’50’’E) is the largest freshwater reserve of New Caledonia, situated in the Great Lakes Region in South Province of Grande Terre, the main island. The site consists of tree-dominated wetlands, shrub-dominated marshes, and permanent and seasonal rivers, streams, creeks and lakes, including a reservoir. It is internationally important for the conservation of outstanding endemic species of flora and fauna; it supports vulnerable and endangered species which are important for the maintenance of biological diversity within the New Caledonian Moist Forests biogeographic region.
The endemic and endangered Kagu © Province Sud de Nouvelle-Calédonie
The site, which includes an extensive underground karst system, plays an important role in flood regulation, water supply, maintenance of water quality and groundwater recharge. The artificial Yaté Lake, located at the centre of the site, provides 20% of the country’s energy needs. The area is also used for scientific research and outdoor recreational tourism including camping, hiking and kayaking. The main threats to its ecological character derive from fires, forestry, invasive species and mining in surrounding areas.
© Province Sud de Nouvelle-Calédonie