March 11, 2024

La Vallée de Ferney steps up its conservation efforts

Written by Sandrine Maingard

Ferney has reached a crucial milestone in its mission to protect the biodiversity of La Vallée de Ferney. The project proposed and implemented by teams from Ferney Ltd and Ferney Conservation Trust, aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change, has received financial support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). Thanks to a grant of Rs 13 million (USD 284,022.73) over three years, Ferney is able to pursue an ambitious project entitled “Building climate resilience in the Nyon River watershed, Ferney, Mauritius”. The project includes the restoration of degraded forests, the reforestation of pastureland and the creation of an agroecological farm in close collaboration with the community. The agreement was signed on Wednesday 15 November 2023 on the premises of FORENA (Fondation Ressources et Nature), the CEPF representative in Mauritius within the regional consortium (RIT) dedicated to the MADIO (Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands) Biodiversity Hotspot.

For Jean Noel Wong CHief Excecutive of CIEL Properties, this grant marks a significant step forward for environmental protection in Mauritius. This CEPF Large Grant will enable Ferney to continue to implement its long-term vision of strengthening the ecosystems of this region of high environmental value,” he said. Our project is driven by an innovative approach combining conservation, sustainable agriculture and community resilience. It is fully aligned with the CIEL Group’s sustainable development strategy. We thank CEPF for helping us to restore the unique nature of the south-east of the island, of which we are in part the custodians.”

Ferney is the first-ever recipient of a CEPF Large Grant for the 2022-2027 funding cycle,” said Manoj Vaghjee, President of FORENA. “Following a rigorous process by CEPF, Ferney was selected because it has already begun tremendous work in an area identified as a CEPF priority, one of Mauritius’ Key Biodiversity Areas identified within the MADIO Biodiversity Hotspot. Ferney’s projects will also create jobs and develop skills, an important criterion for the organisation, which is implementing an Ecosystem Based Adaptation strategy. More than just a funder, we want to be a genuine partner for project leaders who protect biodiversity and those who aim to facilitate adaptation to climate change. We will therefore be working with Ferney over the next three years to help ensure the success of its projects.

A joint programme of the Agence Francaise de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank, CEPF’s main objective is to support biodiversity by giving civil society in transition economies the means to protect “hotspots”, some of the world’s most biologically rich yet threatened terrestrial ecosystems. This fund has contributed to large-scale actions to save nearly 1,000 of the world’s most threatened species, and to strengthen the management and protection of more than 50 million hectares of key biodiversity areas.

Unique eco-friendly initiatives

With the support of the CEPF, Ferney is strengthening the resilience of natural habitats, which are crucial for native fauna and flora that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, while encouraging the active involvement of local communities. The project has three main objectives:

  • The restoration of 20 hectares of degraded woodland in the Vallée de Ferney and the reforestation of 10 hectares of its pastures (formerly covered in woodland)
  • The creation of an agro-ecological farm
  • The dissemination of knowledge and good practice relating to the first two areas.

The aim of the first initiative is to eliminate invasive species and introduce pioneer species such as “Harungana madagascariensis” and “Leea Guineensis” to stimulate natural regeneration. 10 hectares are earmarked for reforestation, thereby enhancing local biodiversity. The second component, the agro-ecological farm, aims to train women farmers from neighbouring villages to regenerate up to two hectares of land by 2026 within the Ferney Agri Hub. This initiative seeks to create a symbiosis between trees and crops, bringing ecological, economic and social benefits. It places particular emphasis on the involvement of women in the Vieux Grand Port area, empowering local agri-entrepreneurs. The Ferney Agri Hub is home to around ten agri-entrepreneurs dedicated to sustainable agriculture.

Ferney Conservation Trust, set up in 2007 through a partnership between the CIEL Group and the Mauritian government, is already working closely with the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation (MWF) on the conservation and reintroduction of endemic species in the Bambou mountain range and the valley. This new funding marks the start of a new collaboration with the Mahebourg-based NGO Nature Yetu. The NGO is contributing its know-how and experience in terms of conservation and restoration practices. This partnership also contributes to communication and the dissemination of good practice, involving academics, ecosystem specialists and students.

Ferney, at the heart of the CIEL Group’s sustainable strategy

The estate extends over 3,100 hectares, comprising more than 1,500 hectares of woodland and more than 1,000 hectares of farmland. Through the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust, the CIEL Group has actively contributed over the last twenty years to the conservation of this diverse and vital ecosystem, replanting more than 35,000 endemic trees and reintroducing endangered plant and animal species. This commitment to conservation fits perfectly with its overall sustainability strategy, one of the three pillars of which is Activate Climate Response. CIEL’s ambition is to make Ferney a benchmark for sustainable development, an eco-responsible living destination and a green eco-tourism site par excellence.

The signing of the grant agreement between CEPF and Ferney Ltd represents a shared commitment to preserving biodiversity, promoting sustainable agriculture and building community resilience. It marks a significant step towards a long-term vision for the regeneration and strengthening of the region’s natural ecosystems, ensuring a greener and more sustainable future for the region and its people.

About CEPF

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a joint initiative of Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank.

It was created in 2000 to support biodiversity, fundamental to human survival, by empowering civil society in developing countries and economies in transition to protect the world’s biodiversity hotspots, some of the most biologically rich yet threatened terrestrial ecosystems.

Mauritius is part of the MADIO (Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands) Biodiversity Hotspot, which also includes Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles. Locally, Ferney is part of the Key Biodiversity Area of the Bamboo chain, classified as a priority by the CEPF. Current funding focuses on ecosystem-based adaptation (to climate change).

CEPF is represented in Mauritius by FORENA which is part of a regional consortium (RIT) led by IUCN NL to support beneficiaries of the MADIO (Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands) Biodiversity Hotspot.