Supporting Mayotte’s Biodiversity Strategy

10 June 2013 | Article

Since June 2012, IUCN French National Committee has worked to help develop a Biodiversity Strategy for Mayotte. The process has involved the participation of numerous stakeholders and the organisation of several workshops to map out how the island’s rich biodiversity can be better protected. 

Like many small island states, Mayotte’s terrestrial and marine environment are vulnerable to numerous pressures from pollution, habitat destruction, invasive alien species and the consequences of climate change. The island also has a high population density which has brought considerable development pressures on biodiversity.

In order to ensure that future development of the island can be decoupled from further loss of biodiversity, IUCN French Committee has worked over the past year to develop a Biodiversity Strategy for Mayotte. After an initial period of review, IUCN picked out some key issues to be considered as part of the strategy, including: the need for all future policy developments to consider the state of the island’s biodiversity; the need to support biodiversity in key sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism; the need for improved management tools such as protected areas; and the need for improving research and sharing of best practice.

Over the past year IUCN Committee has organised seven workshops and involved almost 100 different stakeholders in the development of the strategy, and in April this year a seminar was held to finalise the strategy and involve representatives from the island’s government. The final product was welcomed by the Mayotte government, and IUCN Committee will work to ensure the strategy is adequately implemented and that funding mechanisms are in place to support small scale conservation projects.

By developing its Biodiversity Strategy, Mayotte has become a pilot for French overseas departments both in that it has brought an example for the implementation of the national French biodiversity strategy and in that it has translated France’s international biodiversity commitments into practice.

Mayotte is also a good example for future voluntary schemes on biodiversity for Europe’s overseas. The French Development Agency (AFD), one of the framework partner of IUCN at international level, is committed to supporting the EU BEST initiative and is contributing to financing IUCN actions to that end at European level as well as specifically in Mayotte. AFD has had a long lasting local presence in Mayotte, like in each French overseas territory. The cooperation on the BEST initiative is particularly timely since Mayotte is in the run to become a new European Outermost Region (January 2014).

Such actions as Mayotte's Biodiversity Strategy give a particular political signal to the European Institutions when it comes to supporting environmental actions in the EU overseas. They highlight the fact that, with Europe's overseas, the EU has key allies for preserving its own biodiversity and important components of global biodiversity hotspots.