Over the years, human presence and agricultural activity contributed to significant deforestation. However, an awareness of the value of the endemic and exotic heritage of the island has emerged in the recent past. Wide-scale conservation and reforestation work intensified with considerable human involvement as well as a judicious and ambitious financing policy. The initial results are promising.
The island has a nursery of indigenous species of international standard and works with prestigious organisations such as Kew Gardens, in England. Members and staff of NGOs that are passionate about the conservation and restoration of original habitats on the island have undertaken some remarkable work and fully devote themselves to promote the richness of the local animal and floral life.
Once endangered, the bois de fer (Sideroxylon bontoniamum), the bois d’olive (Elaeodendron orientale), the bois carotte (Pittosporum senacia), the bois chauve-souris (Doricera trilocularis), ebony trees (Diospyros egrettarum), the bois puant (Foetidia mauritiana) and many other species are now cautiously looked after. Thanks to conservation efforts, the famous café marron (Ramosmania heterophylla), which was thought to be nearly extinct, was saved in extremis and a number of specimens are now jealously protected.
The situation regarding the fauna remains a source of concern. Memories are still vivid of the organised massacre of land tortoises and of the Solitaire; the emblematic bird of the island in the 18th century. Some shells and bones have recently been unearthed.
Results in certain areas are encouraging: the chauve-souris dorée (golden bat) is now out of danger and has been reinstated in a natural habitat, namely at Cascade Pigeon, but a certain amount of caution is still required. Programmes are actually being run to save the yellow fody (Foudia flavicans), one of the rare species of existing endemic and indigenous fauna.”