Mauritius has a rich level of biodiversity which is in need of protection. About 670 native species of flowering plants are found in Mauritius and nearly half of these are endemic. Due to its isolation, it has a relatively low diversity of wildlife however a high proportion comprises endemic species occurring nowhere else in the world. Many of these are now threatened with extinction because of human activities including habitat destruction and the introduction of non-native species. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has quoted Mauritius as the third most threatened island flora in the world after Hawaii and the Canary islands. The preservation of our biodiversity has become global concerns and requires well calibrated local initiatives and strategies. The issue of Green and Sustainable Development is indeed an important challenge. This event is a major step in the direction of creating a culture of endemic and medicinal plants for national development. There is thus an urgency to preserve and conserve our rich biological diversity.
Conservation work in Mauritius is being successfully carried out by institutions such as the National Parks and Conservation Service (NPCS) of the Ministry of Agro-industry and Food Security and by non-governmental organizations such as the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) amongst others.
In this context, the Faculty of Agriculture and the University of Mauritius has created the Endemic and Medicinal Plant Garden on the University Farm to contribute to these conservation activities.The Faculty launched the Endemic and Medicinal Plant Garden on 9 Nov 2011 at the University Farm. The plot of an acreage of 1500m2 will be extended to about 3250 m2 in the near future. Plants such as Bois de Clou, Café Marron, Bois d’Ebene Noir, Bois d’Olive, Baume de l’Ile Plate, Bois de Ronde, Pandanus spp are located in the garden. It represents a showcase and raises awareness among the public on the different endemic flora species that exist. It will also be a reference for Scientists, Researchers and students on endemic flora. The setting of the garden has as objectives:
- · To conserve traditional knowledge of endemic and medicinal plants.
- · To enhance our teaching and research activities.
- · To promote public awareness of environment issues and biodiversity conservation.
Design of Garden:
The garden has been designed by Mr Pranit Baboololl under the supervision of Mr Shane Hardowar, Officer-in-Charge (UoM Farm). Assoc Prof M F Driver, Dean of Faculty of Agriculture and Mr Kamlesh Boodhoo, Officer-in-Charge (Agricultural Production and Systems, FOA). Wood chips on soil surface and corals in alleys were used as recommended by the Dean to beautify the landscape. The plant density and the identification of plants with their respective common and scientific names were given by Mr Ramjeeawon from the NPCS.
Donations of plants from institutions and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) will be welcome to make the garden sustainable. The plants will be well maintained and interesting features such as economic importance and benefits of the plants will be included on labels. A wooden kiosque will be erased shortly where visitors and primary/secondary students will have the opportunity to document themselves and to participate in quiz. A pond and a small bridge will add to the landscape later.
The staff of the National Parks and Conservation service, the Director of the Vallee D'Osterlog Endemic Garden Foundation and the Conservation Coordinator, Valle de Ferney are gratefully achnowledged for their support and plant donation.All the farm staff under the guidance of Mr Shane Hurdowar and Mr Praneet Baboolol have worked hard to make this launching a success. The ceremony will be launched by Minister Dr Hon R. Jeetah in the presence of the Vice Chancellor, prof K. Morgan, Pro Chancellor Prof Jugessur and the Dean of Faculty, Assoc Prof M. Driver.
The key messages were
- Developing a unique garden of endemic and medicinal plant garden
- The country ranked by IUCN as 3rd country having most endangered species
- There is a need to preserve our national treasures.
- ·We have destroyed 98% of our fauna and flora in Mauritius.
- We have leave no stones unturned to preserve them
- Today’s venture is an important one for the future generation.
- Whatever is left behind we have to preserve them and build on them.
- A huge store of knowledge is there. We need to research on these plants and find the molecules responsible for medicinal properties, separate them in the laboratory,
- A pharmaceutical industry is possible in Mauritius.
- Medicinal plants represents store of knowledge for the medical field.
- Plants are treasures of our country
- Important for us to know about them and to preserve them
- This garden will represent valuable resource for scientist and visitors.
- PRO Office Record of Event
- Dear Assoc Prof Driver,
- We wish to thank you for the splendid ceremony organised by the FOA on the farm premises. We would like to highlight this brilliant initiative for the conservation of the Mauritian plant biodiversity on the University news blog which you can access on the foll. URL Newsletter 2011 - PRO