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Greening the Mountains of Port-Louis
 

Human activity is one of the main causes of environmental damage. Industrialization, intensive agriculture and urbanization are all factors that have led to soil erosion and desertification.

 

To counter the lack of attention to nature, FORENA is implementing reforestation projects on the mountains surrounding the city of Port Louis, including the sites of La Citadelle and Priest Peak.


Port Louis is the economic and cultural capital of Mauritius. The capital city is a mix of residents, workers and the habour. Port Louis is very active during the day, making it the city with the highest temperatures in Mauritius, especially during the summer period. 


FORENA wants to give this city a new lease of life through the creation of new green spaces. The capital has increasingly suffered from industrial construction and the destruction of its endemic environment. The financial support and expertise of FORENA is therefore essential for the successful completion of its re-vegetation.

 

The objective is to reforest the public space in order to create healthy green spaces for the population. Combining short and long term targets, this project requires vigilance and assiduity in the preservation of plants.

Reforestation of the Citadel, launched in 2010

The Citadel is a fortress built on one of the hills of Port Louis. This place, which has now become a tourist attraction, was built in the 17th century to reinforce the island's defense against invaders. Due to climate change, this hill of Port Louis is currently facing a major problem of soil erosion.


FORENA's role?

FORENA agencies the reforestation plan of endemic plants on 12 hectares. La Citadelle is a pilot project that served as a launching pad for the Foundation to understand the issues and problems related to reforestation, to learn how to adapt the work to the reality of the field and to approach the next stage of reforestation in a more efficient manner. 


The team, in cooperation with the experts of Friends of the Environment, analysed the plots of land to determine if the plantation is possible. Then the number of plants and varieties needed was calculated. A financing report was established and, after validation, the planting project was undertaken.  


The difficulties ?

Water is a problem, especially in Port Louis in the summer. The problem of fire is one of the reasons why the project took longer than expected to take shape. 


Adaptation?

To counteract fire outbreaks, FORENA now ensures that fire trails are adequately built on the sites. And, to prevent the seeds from dehydrating too quickly, a natural fertilizer with a gel that captures water for better absorption by the plants is being used. In addition, a plastic bottle system pierced at the base is placed next to the plants during planting to water them at the roots.

 

The ground being particularly rough, the choice to work zone by zone allows time for the plants to become robust and autonomous before moving on to another area. 

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©FORENA

©FORENA

Priest Peak

Priest Peak is FORENA's first agroforestry project, located on a health trail above Cité Martial, overlooking the Vallée des Prêtres. The planting of Priest Peak began in March 2021. The Ministry of Environment has granted access to 1 hectare at the top of the hill for the planting of 400 endemic plants and fruit trees.

 

The British High Commission has also invested in this project in conjunction with the Presidency of the Cop 26 Summit in Glasgow. The plants were mainly taken from the nursery of the Prison of Petit Verger, an initiative funded by the Australian Embassy in collaboration with FORENA.

 
FORENA's role?

To give back to Priest Peak and its neighbourhood a green and agricultural space. FORENA encourages the local population to consider this place as an extension of their garden. Currently, a few residents are involved in the maintenance of the plot. It is also a project that aims to restore and recreate biodiversity on one of the hills of Port Louis. 


The impact?

To offer a green place in compliance with the health trail established on the hill. To reconnect neighbourhood residents with the nature that surrounds them by inviting them to take ownership of the site. 


The challenges?

Involving local people in the life of this new ecosystem. Maintenance through access to water and care of the young shoots is essential to make these plants last through time and to recreate an autonomous ecosystem.

The mountains of Port Louis

The mountains located in Port Louis are particularly affected by erosion and desertification. Their elevated altitudes on hilltops exposes them to strong winds and higher temperatures making them more vulnerable to wildfires. The goal of this project is to restore the endemic ecosystem on a 10 hectare plot. The reforestation will take place based on the concept of agroforestry. 

These mountains will see their rehabilitation begin in 2022.

FORENA's role?

In partnership with companies in the capital, FORENA will carry out various actions with company employees or volunteers, in support of the people recruited to take care of the identified plots. Among the actions and expected results: restore degraded lands, strengthen the damaged endemic ecosystem and, increase soil fertility by inserting nutrients. At the same time, this will help release the carbon sequestered in the soil and, in the long term, improve the microclimate by lowering the average temperature.

The impact?

On a social level, this project is beneficial for generations in terms of poverty reduction, food security and economic development. In addition to creating employment, we are planning to create nurseries.  The local community can voluntarily become involved in the project creating a sustainable synergy between profit and food production. 

The reforestation of Port Louis has the deeper objective of changing the mentality and behaviour of Mauritians towards the environment in a positive way.  

©FORENA

Priest Peak
Mountains of Port Louis

Protecting the native forest at Pétrin

Pétrin is a forest area located in the Black River Nature Reserve on the Plaine Champagne plateau. The place is open to hikers and the community at large. They particularly like this route which has many slopes and exceptional panoramic views. Moreover, an increasing number of tourists also come to hike in the national park. 

The Pétrin site is the first site where FORENA implemented the project of protecting and empowering an endemic forest. It began in 2017 with the ambition to cover 12 hectares of land thanks to strategic partnerships. Thus, in collaboration with local authorities, the FORENA team, financed by these companies, takes care of cleaning a defined area of the forest. On this plot, the Foundation takes care of all the logistics, thanks to the financing of the companies. In doing so, this action supports the efforts of the various departments and agencies that manage the vast Black River National Park. 

The Pétrin forest is home to endemic trees that coexist with so-called native plants, some of which are unfortunately invasive such as the Chinese guava and the traveller’s tree. These plants do not originate from Mauritian biodiversity. However, they spread very quickly and reduce the spread of endemic trees that are suffocated on their territory. Fortunately, endemic trees do not need to be planted on the entire 12 hectares as nature automatically takes back its rights as soon as invasive plants are removed.

Petrin
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Pétrin

FORENA's role ?

To counter the scourge of invasive plants, FORENA has employed gardeners who have been trained in the identification of endemic plants and trees as well as methods of cleaning invasive plants. To act effectively, this team worked zone by zone. These areas, which are 10 metres wide by 1 kilometre, require the intervention of a team composed between 4 and 12 gardeners depending on the difficulty of the terrain. 

The team was mainly tasked to recreate breathing pockets in the forest by removing thick bushes of dog gulls (an invasive vine species). As a result, the endemic forest has been able to resume its development autonomously. The presence of ferns contrasts sharply with the areas invaded by the guava. These ferns are a good sign because they allow endemic plants to grow. In the long term, the goal of recurring cleansing is to allow the endemic forest to regain its natural place without human intervention to protect it from invasive species. 

 

The difficulties?

The clearing of a plot of one hectare can take between 6 to 7 weeks and it is a difficult and labour intensive process. Beyond the importance of forest empowerment, FORENA has put an end to the use of herbicides in this maintenance work. This decision is in line with FORENA’s commitments to protect biodiversity and show respect for the land. 


However, stopping the use of herbicides increases manual maintenance work tenfold as invasive plants return quickly. Gardeners need to come back more often to control the spread of Chinese guava, and the traveller’s tree, among other species. The maintenance work generates healthy green spaces and recreates the native ecosystem of the island.


Of the 12 hectares planned, 7 hectares have been cleaned but require regular maintenance operations for the endemic forest to resettle sustainably. In addition, another 5 hectares are awaiting funding in order to be cleared. 


The impact?

This project supports the return of the Mauritian virgin forest to the largest nature reserve of the island. The hectares that have been identified are located along a very scenic hiking trail, which allows Mauritians, tourists and visitors to experience a native forest of Mauritius with real endemic trees as it was in the distant past. 


In parallel, this promotes the return and conservation of native animals from these forests, including berries that bats can feed on. FORENA is also involved in the construction of garbage bins and benches made of Chinese guava wood which blends with the natural panoramic landscape. Explanatory signs have been installed to encourage the visitors to respect the environment.

©FORENA

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