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Noumea has nearly 230 hectares of mangroves. There are mangrove trees here that are over 300 years old, as well as around fifty bird species. However the mangroves have lost 25% of their surface area since the start of the ‘60s, mainly due to urbanisation. Yet this rich ecosystem plays a major role. The mangroves are a buffer zone between land and sea, protecting the coast from erosion by the sea, preventing sediment from smothering corals and acting as a nursery and larder for many species of birds and marine organisms (crabs, mullets, etc.). Its conservation is therefore crucial, both ecologically and economically.
In order to raise awareness on the importance of the mangrove forest, the South Province has created a discovery pathway at Ouémo, in the heart of one of the last sections of mangrove. At Rivière-Salée, the nature preservation societies, Association pour la Sauvegarde de la Nature and the Association les Gaïacs, are carrying out huge clean-up operations in partnership with the Province and with aid from the City. The “SOS mangrove » operation means young people who have dropped out of school can take up a great environment challenge and at the same time it helps improve their social inclusion and entry into the world of work. It is part of a broader plan to rehabilitate and restore the status of the site. School children are taking part in its revegetation and the residents are slowly returning to these areas.
Preservation work is also being carried out in the Kaméré mangrove area. The objective is to remove the tonnes of waste with which the mangroves have been overrun.
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The Fiddler Crab
The little fiddler crab is distinguished by having one abnormally large pincer, about 10cm long. The crab is active at low tide and filters the silt to feed on decomposing plants and carcasses.
It also uses its pincer in a courting display (the females don’t have such a large pincer). The far less impressive mangrove crab or mud crab, likes to emerge from its hiding place at night. It is a choice dish, hunted relentlessly by those who love to eat it. It is forbidden to try and catch any between 1 December and 31 January.
Centre d’Initiation à l’Environnement – Environmental Information Centre
The Environmental Information Centre (CIE) organises regular mangrove discovery trips to see and learn about the mangroves.
Centre d'initiation to l'environnement (CIE) – Bâtiment A, Appartement 11, résidence de Magenta – BP 427, 98845 Noumea Cedex – Tel.: 27 40 39 – firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: www.cie.nc