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The dry forest  

The term « dry forests » or « sclerophyllous forest » is given to all woodland formations that grow in a dry climate - less than 1,100mm of rainfall per year.  They are found on the West coast, very often on private property, and stretch from the coast up to an altitude of 300 to 400 metres, very often on sedimentary rocks.  Many of the plants have tough, rigid, glossy leaves able to endure a significant water shortage during the dry season.

The dry forest is the most directly threatened endangered plant formation.  Out of the 4,500 km² which used to cover the West coast, only 45km² still survives, i.e. 1% of the original surface!  And yet this ecosystem contains a remarkable degree of botanical diversity and micro-endemism. The New Caledonian Dry Forest Conservation Programme works hard on a daily basis to preserve what still exists, promote regeneration and heighten public awareness of what is at stake and of the challenges facing the environment.

In Noumea, there are several areas now under protection: Ouen-Toro (3 hectares), the Forest Park and Zoo (10 hectares), Koumourou, at the far end of the Ducos peninsular (10 hectares) and Tina (8 ha). The town planning and sustainable development project (PADD) makes provision for turning dry forests into nature sanctuaries, like the municipality’s mangroves.