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Forest, Fauna and Flora
The forests of the Republic of Mauritius are small in area but perform vital functions, the most important of them being soil and water conservation. Where water is scarce, all activities, be they agriculture, tourism or manufacturing, are seriously affected. The environmental function of forests far outweighs their direct economic function in small island developing state.

The total extent of forest cover in Mauritius is estimated at 47,159 hectares representing about 25% of the total land area. There are only two types of forest ownership: public and private. There are more forests on private lands with an estimated extent of 25,000 hectares as compared to about 22,159 hectares on state lands.

Forest cover in Mauritius
Mauritius has a wide range of animal species found nowhere upon earth. It is home to 25 species of indigenous land vertebrates. These endemic land vertebrates include mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and molluscs.

There were at least 18 native land birds of which the following 7 are now extinct, with the approximate extinction date shown in brackets: the dodo Raphus cucullatus (1662), the large parrot Lophopssittacus mauritianus (1680), the red rail Aphanapteryx bonasia (1760), the parrot bensoni (1770), the fruit pigeon or Dutch pigeon Alectruenas nitidissima (1840), the owl Otus commerson (1650) and the owl Tylosauzieri (1850).

Presently nine endemic species of birds have been reported.

The only mammals in Mauritius were bats of which there were at least 4 species: Pteropus niger (still present), Pteropus subniger (extinct), Taphozous mauritianus (still present) and Tacdanda acetabulosus (still present).

Mauritius harbours approximately 900 species of plants of which 311 have been identified as being endemic. Out of the 311 species, 113 are classified as endangered. 50 of the 113 species are threatened which means that they are represented by less than 10 in the wild.

Alien species (flora and fauna)

Several alien species are reported to have been introduced in Mauritius and they are a direct threat to the endemic plants. Some of the important ones are:

(a) Chinese guava Psidium cattleianum, perhaps the worst weed in the Mauritian upland forest introduced in around 1750. Its fruits are eaten by deer, pigs and monkeys which proved to be very effective dispersal agents.

(b) Privet Ligustrum robustum var. Walkeri. Privet has spread rapidly in the moist upland and areas of Mauritius.

(c) Travelers palm Ravenala madagascariensis - Large areas of travelers palm can be found by river banks and on hill sides in humid areas.

(d) Vieillefille Lantana camara - This species is found in the drier forested areas.

The Black River Gorges National Park
This is the first National Park of Mauritius. It extends over an area of 6,754 hectares which represents about 3.5% of the island’s area and is situated in the South West of the island. It harbours more than 300 species of flowering plants and 9 species of endemic birds.