The 25th anniversary of the LIFE programme: LIFE+ Pétrel headquarters were inaugurated!

This year, the European Commission celebrates the 25th anniversary of its environmental funding instrument: LIFE. This fund allows the member states to set up ambitious environmental programs in order to promote biodiversity and combat climate change. Since its creation in 1992, more than 4000 projects were initiated by the LIFE program for a sum total of 3,1 billion Euros.

To celebrate this event, The Réunion National Park gathered all committed local partners and financiers around the 2 Réunion based LIFE programs.

On this occasion, the new headquarters of the LIFE+ Pétrel project, provided by the Saint-Pierre sub-prefecture, were inaugurated by the sub-prefect Mr. Vincent Lagoguey in the presence of the Saint-Pierre city council representatives, the Department of La Réunion representatives, as well as the Prefecture of the TAAF. The location of the headquarters, which is close to the population centers, was also emphasized. Our headquarters are in between the Barau petrel breeding colonies and the recently discovered Mascarene petrel breeding colony wich makes them much more easily accessible. They are monitored each year by the project team members. Thanks to this new location, the project has a strategic position within the communities whose support is essential to the survival of these two species of critically endangered endemic petrels.


The LIFE programme 25th anniversary was also the occasion for a highly symbolic planting by the LIFE+ Forêt Sèche. Now five “Bois de Senteurs Blanc” (a critically endangered species of small tree) will flourish in the sub-prefecture gardens.

This tree is endemic to La Réunion island, it exists nowhere else. Rooted in local traditions, it is a mystical tree considered to be a symbol of good fortune for the natives of La Réunion. Some believe that it sings at noon or at midnight, others believe that if one breaks a leaf, he must leave a coin at the roots.

In the 90’s, there were only 3 “Bois de Senteur Blanc” left in la Réunion. Now, thanks to the LIFE+ Forêt Sèche, the “Bois de Senteur Blanc” will now thrive on the island.


LIFE projects in La Réunion

Since the access to the LIFE programme was made possible in 2007 to overseas territories, La Réunion became a LIFE program hub under the auspices of the National Park. In its role of coordination, the latter strive to mobilize the stakeholders in the preservation of the exceptional biodiversity of La Réunion. The rich biodiversity of the region led to the “Pitons, cirques and remparts” of La Réunion to be registered as a World Heritage Site. The National Park bring two key elements to these projects: financial stability, allowing the teams to work in total equanimity as well as the teams themselves, mobilized for these projects well beyond conventional commitments, who will assure the continuity of these projects once they expire. Four LIFE projects steered by the National Parks succeeded one another and more are to come.

From 2009 to 2014, the LIFE+ COREXERUN insured the preservation of the last remains of the semi-xerophilous forest of the La Montagne uplands as well as identified the necessary techniques for its preservation.

From 2010 to 2015, the LIFE+ CAPDOM, managed by the LPO, unified French Guyana, Martinique and La Réunion in a common project. It worked in favor of 6 birds, including the Réunion Harrier and the Réunion Cuckooshrike. This project was distinguished by the European Commission as one of the 23 “Best projects” ending the same year.

From 2014 to 2020, LIFE+ Pétrels and the LIFE+ Forêt Sèche will both be supported by the National Park. Their goal is to save the two endemic petrel species of La Réunion as well as its semi-xerophilous forests.

The aim of these programs is the preservation of the endangered natural heritage of these territories by including local stakeholders: decision makers, elected representatives, communication to the general population, without whom preservation measures would not be efficient.


The LIFE+ projects help La Réunion to be “pinpointed” on the world map thanks to networks developed with experts from Hawai’i, South Africa, New Zealand, Mascarenes, etc…

Finally, the National Park assistant director announced that La Réunion will host the annual meeting of the French speaking LIFE+ projects (France, Belgium, Luxembourg) in December of 2017. La Réunion will thus be the 1st overseas territory to host this meeting. This is a great acknowledgement from the European Union of work done during the past 10 years on the preservation of the island’s biodiversity.

Photo Credits : Cédric Anamoutou and Yahaia Soulaimana Mattoir