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Most threatened forests in the world


New Caledonia Rain Forest

New Caledonia is located in the southwest Pacific about 1,200 km east of Queensland, Australia. New Caledonia has been identified as a biodiversity hotspot with 3261 native plant species, 74% of which are endemic. It is a tropical moist broad leaf forest which is part of the Australasia Eco zone. New Caledonia was discovered by Captian Cook in 1774. He named it after old Caledonia or Scotland because many sections of the island looked like the Moors of Scotland. Today, New Caledonia is a French territory like French Polynesia.

The New Caledonia rain forests are made up of three predominant forest types. The lowland rain forests cover the Loyalty Islands, and the Iles des Pines and the lower elevations of Grand Terre. The climate of the islands is Tropical, and rainfall is highly seasonal, brought by trade winds that usually come from the east. Rainfall averages about 1,500 mm yearly on the Loyalty Islands, 2,000 mm at low elevations on eastern Grand Terre, and 2,000-4,000 mm at high elevations on Grand Terre. The western slopes of Grand Terre, which are in the rain shadow of the central mountain range, are much drier, and are home to the New Caledonia dry forests ecoregion.


The New Caledonia rainforests have suffered large losses of native habitat. Rainforests in New Caledonia used to occupy 70 percent of the land area and now occupy 21.5 percent. Only 5% of New Caledonia´s forest landscape remains. Best known for its endemic plants, New Caledonian forests are home to species like the kagu, an endangered bird (only surviving member of its family).

The biggest threats for this forests are nickel mining, deforestation and invasive species. Deforestation and large- scale open mines have given New Caledonia some of the worst soil erosion in the world.