The Scattered Islands are one of five districts of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF). Although the Scattered Islands are not an overseas territory in their own right, their climatic and environmental characteristics are very different from those of the other polar districts that make up the TAAF.
The vegetation of the Scattered Islands is very distinct from one island to another. The vegetation of Juan de Nova Island and Grande Glorieuse is almost entirely made up of coconut palms, while Tromelin Island is home to a few shrubs and herbaceous plants.
Europa, the largest of the Scattered Islands, is a sanctuary of well-preserved terrestrial and marine biodiversity. It has a unique profile, with a shallow interior lagoon which drains out at low tide, a mangrove area of over 700 hectares and a vast euphorbia forest. It is the only one of the Scattered Islands to have virtually intact native vegetation. In addition, Europa Island is an important reference for the entire Indian Ocean. It could act as an ecological beacon and serve as a potential indicator of the impacts of climate change in the region, the same way as the Chagos archipelago (BIOT) can in the central Indian Ocean.
The Scattered Islands host very large colonies of marine nesting birds, including White-tailed Tropicbirds (Phaethon lepturus), and several species of terns, boobies, and frigatebirds. Europa hosts several species of migratory birds, 13 of whom reproduce on the island. Large numbers of marine turtles also come to lay their eggs on the water fronts of Europa and Tromelin. Read more