Mangroves of Mauritius

Mauritius has a mangrove cover of 1.45 km2. There are only two species of mangroves namely Rhizophora mucronata and Brugueira gymnorhiza. R. mucronata being the most dominant species occurs in the north-east, east and south west coast while B gymnorhiza occurs in small patches in the east and south east coast of the island. Typical mangrove flora includes the fern Acrosticum aureaum and mangrove fauna consists of bivalve species, Crassotrea cucullata, and crustaceans namely Uca and Cardisoma species. Mangroves are of great economic value. Earlier settlers were making direct use of them as fuel wood; this practice has diminished as mangroves are protected by law. The medicinal use of mangroves from Mauritius has also been reported as poultrice on wounds, against haemorrhages, as an antihypertensive or for their anti-diabetic properties. The indirect uses reported are the ecological functions they serve in acting as nursery grounds for artisanal fishing and protection from coastal erosion. In Mauritius mangroves are habitats where fishers practice artisanal fishing, crustacean and fishing bait collection; they are also important for ecotourism purposes. Mangroves also play crucial role in storm protection and sediment retention. The main pressure on mangrove in Mauritius is coastal development as the island is relatively small. Protection of mangroves is taken care by a number of environmental legislations. However, specific legislations dealing with mangroves exist in the Fisheries and Marine Protection Act. Replantation of mangroves with community participation is common strategy employed by the decision-makers and non-governmental organisations. The Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping encourages gives authorization for replantation programs and many NGOs such as Association pour le Developpement Durable, Eco-Sud and Eli-Africa, Ministry of Environment have been involved is such processes. In the future, there is a need to document, monitor and scientifically explore this important ecosystem.