Nestled in the heart of the tropical island of Réunion, Réunion National Park is a natural treasure that never ceases to amaze visitors. Covering more than 100,000 acres, this World Heritage site is home to a mind-blowing diversity of flora and fauna. Including more than 850 species of plants and several endangered species of animals. Beyond its natural wonders, Réunion National Park attracts outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. Offering an abundance of hiking trails, canyoning routes, and scenic drives that are sure to leave a lasting impression. Let’s dive into the mesmerizing attractions of Réunion National Park and experience the magic of this natural sanctuary.
Location and Size of Réunion National Park
Located on the island of Réunion in the western Indian Ocean. Réunion National Park is a French national park that covers around 42% of the island. With an area of 1750 km², the park takes up most of the island’s interior. The core of the park covers 1053.84 km². While an area of voluntary commitment touches all 24 communes on the island.
The park’s landscape, including the active volcano Piton de la Fournaise, was designated a World Heritage site in 2010 under the name Pitons Cirques and Remparts of Reunion Island for its imposing rugged terrain and exceptional biodiversity. However, controversies have emerged over economic development in the park, notably the exploitation of resources.
The national park is a popular destination for nature lovers and hikers. Notable endemic species found within the park include the Tuit-tuit bird and the Reunion Island Peziza fungus. The park’s mission, in addition to preserving the landscape and biodiversity, is to share knowledge and welcome visitors while working together with local communes.
The park is divided into two zones: the inner zone and the outer zone. The inner zone, covering 1070 km², includes the area of the two volcanoes, Piton des Neiges and Piton de la Fournaise, along with the basin of the Cirque de Mafate. The outer zone, with an area of approximately 680 km², takes up around 40% of the park and is more densely populated.
Established to Preserve Ecosystems and Biodiversity
Established in March 2007, Réunion National Park protects the mountainous interior of Réunion Island, covering 42% of its surface. Its mission is to preserve exceptional biodiversity and share knowledge while welcoming visitors and working together with local communities. Plans for this park date back to 1985 and were officially approved in 2007. Notable endemic species include the Paradise Flycatcher and Rough-Scaled Gecko. It is a popular destination for hiking, trekking, and ecotourism.
The park boasts rugged terrain, including an active volcano, and exceptional biodiversity. This UNESCO World Heritage site encompasses two basaltic volcanic massifs, resulting from a single hotspot. This protected area showcases a range of natural forest habitats and high-endemic species in the core area of the National Park. Nearly 1,600 native species have been recorded on the island. And new discoveries like the Mascarene Petrel and Heterochaenia fragrans are still being made.
Réunion National Park is home to a significant number of endemic species, including the Reunion Cuckoo-shrike and Reunion Island Flycatcher. These bird species are considered to be critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 50 individuals left in the wild. The park is also home to the Reunion Olive White-eye, a bird species that is unique to Réunion Island. Visitors to the park have the opportunity to spot these rare and fascinating species. As well as learn about their habitats and conservation efforts underway to protect them.
The park’s lush vegetation provides the perfect habitat for other endemic species. Including the Réunion Flying Fox and the Réunion Harrier. These mammals and birds, respectively, are unique to the island and are considered vulnerable due to habitat loss and other threats. The park’s conservation efforts aim to protect these fascinating species and ensure their continued survival for future generations. Visitors can take part in guided tours and educational programs to learn more about these endemic species and their importance to the park’s fragile ecosystem.
In addition to these rare and endemic species, Réunion National Park is also home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. Including many species that are not found anywhere else on the planet. The park’s diverse landscapes, from volcano-covered mountains to lush forests and waterfalls, provide the perfect habitat for these unique and fascinating species. Visitors to the park can immerse themselves in this biodiversity hotspot and learn about the importance of conservation efforts to protect these irreplaceable natural resources.
Planning and Creation of the Réunion National Park
Proposals to create Réunion National Park were first put forward in 1985, with the principle of establishing a park in the island’s mountainous interior enshrined in the Réunion Environmental Charter and the Regional Development Plan. Between 2000 and 2003, consultation took place between the state, region, communes, and mayors’ association, leading to a protocol and steering committee being set up. In all, 27 out of 29 institutions endorsed the plan to create a national park. A public survey followed in 2004, in which 24 communes on the island responded positively, adding recommendations.
In 2007, the park officially came into being after the Council of State issued a decree. Later that year, the administration council formed and employed personnel. Along with installations made on the site between 2007 and 2009. In 2008, work began on setting up the national park’s charter, while the value of the natural sites within the park was acknowledged by UNESCO in 2010. The charter identifies four main objectives: to preserve the diversity of landscapes and manage their evolution; to combat biodiversity loss; to preserve and add value to highland culture and values, and to foster economic development for the highland.
Reunion National Park’s core area, comprising 42% of the island’s surface, sits within the interior of the island’s landmass and corresponds to 1053.84 square kilometres (406.89 square miles). It incorporates land from 23 communes as well as some inhabited and cultivated land.
Landscape and Designation as World Heritage Site
Réunion National Park covers 42% of the island’s surface area and protects the ecosystems of Réunion’s mountainous interior. The park’s landscape, including the active volcano, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010 for its imposing rugged terrain and exceptional biodiversity. Four major areas form the heart of the national park listed as a World Heritage site: the forest at Bébour-Bélouve, rock formations in the narrow gorge of the River, Piton des Neiges massif, and Mare Longue forest. All these spots create a visually striking landscape. The park’s mission is to preserve the landscape, and biodiversity, and share knowledge while welcoming visitors and working with local communes.
The core of Réunion National Park covers 1,053.84 square kilometres in the interior of the island, which corresponds to 42% of its surface area. Furthermore, adjacent to the core is an area of voluntary commitment that spans all 24 communes on the island. Encompassing over 75% of its total landmass. Dominated by two towering volcanic peaks, massive walls, and three cliff-rimmed cirques, the Pitons, cirques, and remparts create a visually appealing mosaic of ecosystems and landscape features. Additionally, the park serves as a natural habitat for a wide diversity of plants, showcasing a high level of endemism. Within the park’s boundaries, you’ll find subtropical rainforests, cloud forests, and heaths, all of which contribute to a remarkable and visually striking landscape.
The park’s core area includes some inhabited and cultivated lands. And the surrounding area is also an integral part of the park. Covering more than 100,000 hectares, or 40% of La Réunion, an island that comprises two volcanic massifs. The property includes a great variety of rugged terrain and impressive escarpments, forested gorges, and basins.
Mission and Objectives of Réunion National Park
The mission of Réunion National Park is to preserve the island’s diverse landscape and unique biodiversity. The park also seeks to share knowledge with visitors and work alongside local communities. Additionally, the park aims to foster economic development in the highlands. While preserving and adding value to the culture of the region. The park’s four main objectives include preserving the diversity of landscapes, reversing the loss of biodiversity, preserving and promoting the culture of the highlands, and fostering economic development.
Réunion National Park covers around 42% of the island, making it a popular destination for hiking and ecotourism. Additionally, the core area of the park spans over 1000 square kilometers, encompassing both inhabited and cultivated land. Moreover, the park’s influence extends beyond its core, with the adjacent area of voluntary commitment reaching all 24 communes on the island. Notably, the park shares a common natural history, characterized by an active volcano and two volcanic peaks known as the Pitons, which form its majestic backbone.
The park’s establishment occurred in 2007 after decades of planning and a public survey in 2004. In 2010, UNESCO designated the park’s landscape, which includes the Pitons, cirques, and remparts of Réunion Island, as a World Heritage site. The park’s mission, apart from preserving the landscape and biodiversity. The park’s mission is to work together with local communities. While welcoming visitors to learn about the unique ecosystems of Réunion’s mountainous interior.
Core Area and Buffer Zone
Réunion National Park has a core area that covers around 42% of the island and corresponds to 1053.84 km2. This includes some inhabited and cultivated land and extends over the land of 23 communes. The adjacent buffer zone covers an area of voluntary commitment and touches all 24 communes on the island. Extending over more than 75% of the island. The park’s mission, other than preserving landscape and biodiversity, is to share knowledge, welcome visitors, and work together with local communes. It is a popular destination for hiking and nature enthusiasts.
The park’s core area is located in the island’s interior and includes some of the best-preserved remains of low-altitude tropical forest, rock formations in the narrow gorge of the Rivière des Remparts, and a 100,000-year-old accessible magma chamber. The island is in origin and sits over a hotspot consisting of two volcanoes that form its backbone. The still active Piton de la Fournaise and the over 3000 m high Piton des Neiges are the park’s dominant features. The park’s landscape, including the active volcano, was designated a World Heritage site in 2010 under the name “Pitons, cirques, and Remparts of Reunion Island” for its imposing rugged terrain and exceptional biodiversity.
The park’s creation began as far back as 1985, and it officially came into existence in 2007. Between 2000 and 2003, the state, region, and department. And the Association of Mayors agreed on a protocol and established a steering committee. Debates and negotiations on the limits and objectives of the future national park intensified.
Voluntary Commitment Areas
The Réunion National Park covers a core area of 406.89 sq mi and a voluntary commitment area of 338.60 sq mi. This voluntary commitment area touches all 24 communes on the island and extends over more than 75% of the island. Though smaller than the core area, the voluntary commitment area is no less important. It serves as a buffer zone around the core, helping to protect the unique biodiversity of the island. The park authorities work tirelessly to ensure that both the core and voluntary commitment areas remain untouched by commercial and industrial development.
Natural Features and Volcanoes at Réunion National Park
Réunion National Park is home to a stunning array of natural features. That makes it one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. Among these features are its two towering volcanoes: the Piton des Neiges and the active Piton de la Fournaise. The park’s mountainous terrain also includes forested gorges, basins, and massive walls, creating an impressive and visually striking landscape. Its ecosystem is particularly notable for its high level of endemism, with a wide diversity of plants. Including subtropical rainforests, cloud forests, and heaths, making it a visually appealing mosaic of ecosystems.
Coexistence with Agriculture and Livelihoods
Réunion National Park not only aims to preserve the diversity of landscapes and biodiversity. But also to foster economic development for the highland. This includes coexisting with agriculture and other livelihoods. The park management works together with local farmers to promote sustainable agriculture practices and conservation programs. They also support local artisanal products and encourage tourism that supports local communities. The park’s buffer zone, covering an area of voluntary commitment, includes land used for agriculture and farming. Furthermore, the park management recognizes the importance of traditional practices and local communities in the preservation of the natural heritage of the island.
In conclusion, Reunion Island’s Pitons cirques and remparts are a UNESCO World Heritage site covering over 100,000 hectares and 40% of the island. The unique landscape features two towering volcanic peaks, forested gorges, and basins that provide habitats for a wide variety of plants, with high endemics. Moreover, it is visually striking with subtropical rainforests, cloud forests, and heaths, providing a remarkable mosaic of ecosystems. The site falls within the core of the La Réunion National Park, and it enjoys protection by other conservation instruments. Furthermore, preserving its outstanding universal value.