Tuesday, 12 August 2008

New Caledonia's coral reefs designated as a World Heritage site

Twenty-seven new sites have recently been added to the internationally recognised World Heritage List, including three sites in the Pacific: Chief Roi Mata's Domain (Vanuatu), the Kuk Early Agricultural Site (Papua New Guinea) and the Lagoons of New Caledonia (France).

The Lagoons of New Caledonia comprise six marine clusters that represent the main diversity of coral reefs and associated ecosystems in the French Pacific Ocean archipelago of New Caledonia and one of the three most extensive reef systems in the world. The lagoons feature an exceptional diversity of coral and fish species and a continuum of habitats from mangroves to seagrasses with the world’s most diverse concentration of reef structures. The Lagoons of New Caledonia display intact ecosystems, with healthy populations of large predators and a great number and diversity of big fish. They provide habitat to a number of threatened fish, turtles and marine mammals, including the third largest population of dugongs in the world. These Lagoons are of exceptional natural beauty and contain reefs of varying age from living reefs to ancient fossil reefs, providing an important source of information on the natural history of Oceania.