French Austral Lands and Seas [Our heritage]

Published on 11 October 2019 - Updated 29 October 2019
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The French Austral Lands and Seas, the largest World Heritage site to date, comprise the largest of the rare emerged lands of the southern Indian Ocean. They were "unanimously" inscribed as natural heritage on the World Heritage List on 5 July, thus becoming the 45th French World Heritage site.

Because of their oceanographic and geomorphological features, their waters are extremely productive and form the basis of a rich and diverse food web. This “oasis” in the middle of the Southern Sea is home to and supports one of the world’s highest concentrations and diversities of marine birds and mammals. The grandiose volcanic landscapes that harbour this wild and abundant nature give this site its exceptional character.  

Because of its huge size – more than 672 000 km2 –, this site contains a high representation of the biodiversity of the Southern Ocean and protects the ecological processes that are essential for these species to thrive. For this reason, the territory plays a key role in the health of oceans worldwide, particularly in the regulation of the carbon cycle.  

As a result of their great distance from centres of human activities, the French Austral Lands and Seas are very well preserved showcases of biological evolution and therefore unique areas for scientific research, particularly for long-term monitoring of populations of marine birds and mammals and for the study of the effects of global change. Aware of this exceptional heritage, the authority of the French Austral Lands and Seas, through the nature reserve and with the commitment of the scientific community, has adopted a proven and recognised management system to ensure its preservation for future generations.  



© ABFPM / Olivier Sampson


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