Ile d’Ambre National Park
Ile d’Ambre has been proclaimed a National Park in 2004 and is managed by the National Park and Conservation Service of the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security. It is the largest islet National Park and is situated to the north east of the mainland at about 400m off-coast of Bain de Rosnay. The 137 ha islet is positioned within the barrier lagoon, the closet part of the islet being approximately 400m from the mainland. The islet is formed of low-lying basaltic rock, similar to the mainland area. Most of the islet is covered with degraded forest; there are considerable fringing mangroves around the islet. There are small numbers of native palms which at present are not regenerating.
Ile d’Ambre was named by Dutch settlers who probably found ambergris on the shore of the islet. They used the islet for goat rearing but Ile d’Ambre truly came into light during the French occupation with the tragic shipwreck of the Saint Geran on the reefs of Poudre D’Or lagoon on 17 August 1744. Concession of the islet dates back to 1769 and was passed to several French settlers. During that period, the islet was being used for sugar cane and maize plantation and for goat and cattle rearing before being taken by the Government of Mauritius in 1968. Thereafter the islet has a history of commercial forestry activities.
The numerous pathways, many bounded by low walls, constructed from the basalt boulders, suggest that they were used for transport following logging of trees. It has also been suggested that the islet was once a deer park.
Biodiversity Natural features
Ile d’Ambre is volcanic in origin and is generally low-lying, the highest point on the islet being less than 20m. It is situated in a large lagoon system, enclosed by a barrier reef.
The islet has a highly convoluted coastline, with many promontories and protected shallow bays. There are a number of brackish ponds and extensive areas of occasionally flooded mudflat and swampy areas. In addition, there are a number of small islets and outcrops on the western side of Ile d’Ambre. The islet is protected by a barrier reef, situated about 1.5km from the northeast coastline of Ile d’Ambre.
Ile d’Ambre still has some Latanier bleu (Latania loddigesi), Bois d’olive (Cassine orientalis), Sesuvium ayresii and considerable fringing mangroves around the islet.
Most of the vegetation is covered with forestry plantations since the islet had been managed as a plantation of Tecoma, Filao and Arucaria, and these are still the dominant vegetation. It still however has composite plant undergrowth habitat, especially on the slopes of the forest near the coastal margin . A few individuals of native Latania palm still survive, which although not regenerating, has the potential for regeneration.
The island has a network of different wetland habitats including an expanse of seasonally freshwater marsh, and a brackish water sinkhole .These wetlands contain unique flora and fauna and add a considerable amount of ecological diversity on the islet. Mainly herbaceous vegetation like Sesuvium. Ludwigia (herbe des mares), Solanum, Ageratum, Vernonia. Thespesia seems the only large tree truly associated with this biotope.There is also a salt pan on Ile d’Ambre which is only flooded at extreme high water, representing an inland hypersaline salt marsh and associated species, unique in this region.
Coastal mangrove forest ecosytems
The shoreline is complex with considerable lengths of inter- and supra-tidal habitat. In the islet bays and in some of the more protected areas, the islet is fringed with mangroves Rhizophora mucronata. This represents an important nursery area for fish and marine invertebrates, in particular for fish in the neighbouring protected marine area of Riviere du Rempart –Poudre D’Or Fisheries Reserve.
Ridge To Reef (R2R) Mauritius project on Ile D’Ambre National Park
The R2R Mauritius Project is an European Union (EU) funded project that promotes a ridge to reef or integrated approach to the management of our landscapes. The project implemented by the National Parks and Conservation Service (NPCS) of the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security will contribute to increasing our island’s resilience to climate change, reducing biodiversity loss and improving food security.
The R2R project on Ile d’Ambre National Park aims at conserving and restoring the natural ecosystems on the 137 ha islet including the wetlands and mangrove ecosystems. More than 20 hectares of degraded forest ecosystems will also be restored through the removal of invasive species and the reintroduction of native biodiversity.
Native Dracaena concinna (Bois de chandelle) to be reintroduced on Ile d’Ambre
National Parks & Conservation Service,
Ministry of Agro Industry & Food Security,
Head Office, Réduit
Tel: +230 464 4053, +230 464 2993 - Fax: +230 466 0453
Copyright: National Parks and Conservation Service, Mauritius – 2021