New Caledonia Moist Forests

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Tree ferns and palms. New Caledonia, France.
© WWF-Canon / Roger LeGUEN

About the Area

New Caledonia is an isolated remnant of the ancient super continent Gondwana. This history, combined with the presence of unusual serpentine soils and climate variation resulting from its topography, has helped produce one of the world's most extraordinary and rich biotas, despite its small size.
The region has very high endemism in plant and animal species, with an impressive diversity of vegetation types - over 2,900 species of vascular plants, of which nearly 80 per cent are endemic.

Because the island is separated from Australia by a wide stretch of ocean, these species haven't spread to other areas but have evolved in isolation over millions of years.

Local Species
There is a high degree of endemism in arthropods, reptiles, birds, and plants including the Kagu (Rhynochetus jubata) - the sole member of an endemic bird family, two species of giant gecko, as well as the unique plants Araucaria rulei and Dacyridium guillauminii.

The flora is incredibly rich, supporting a diverse array of conifers: araucariads and podocarps. Angiosperms include a number of endemic families, such as Amborella, Canacomyrica, Paracryphia, and Strasburgeria.

Threats
The major threats are clearing of native habitats, fire, over-exploitation of some species, introduced species, mining, agriculture, and livestock grazing.

Resources
Size:
14,600 sq. km (5,600 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
New Caledonia island, to the northeast of Australia

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Quiz Time!

Which notable species are now extinct from these forests?

Answer:
Two interesting reptiles once lived on New Caledonia - a terrestrial crocodile that ate land snails and a giant tortoise with two horns on its head. Scientists believe these reptiles were hunted to extinction after people arrived on the islands.

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