Optimising the Ferney Valley into a Mauritian Biodiversity Conservation and awareness hotspot
1.1 Project Summary
Mauritius has a biodiversity rich in endemic species, which have evolved in the eight million year history of the island. Since the human colonization in the 17thC there have been high rates of plant and animal extinctions and many species have become threatened. Conservation programmes have achieved significant progress in halting and slowing biodiversity loss. These include the recovery of the populations of the formerly Critically Endangered and endemic Mauritius Kestrel Falcopunctatus, Pink Pigeon Nesoenasmayeri, Echo Parakeet Psittaculaeques, and increases in tens of plant species including the Critically Endangered Dombeyamauritiana, Hyophorbelagenicaulis, Psiadiacataractaeand Elaeocarpusbojeri. In parallel with the species recovery there has been restoration of habitats in the Black River Gorges National Park, and the rebuilding of ecosystems on islets, especially Round Island and Ile aux Aigrettes. Some of these programmes have become text-book examples of species and ecosystem restoration, putting Mauritius as one of the countries in the forefront of saving biodiversity.

The total forest land in Mauritius is 47,181 ha. (2.5% of the island); 47% of this forested land is state owned, the remainder is free-hold or leased to the private sector by the state. The extent of native forest is however very small and areas with more than 50% native plant cover is about 2,600 ha., less than 2% of the total area of the island (186,000 ha.).
This good quality native forest is mainly in the Black River Gorges National Park and in the Bambous Mountains in the east of Mauritius. None of these native forests are safe from degradation since they are being affected by invasive alien species such as rats Rattusspp., deer Cervustimorensis, pigs Susscrofa, Indian Mynah Acridotherestristis, Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotusjocosus, Strawberry Guava Psidiumcattleianum, privet Ligustrumrobustum, and Traveller’s Palm Ravenalamadagascariensis.

Strategies to save native biodiversity need to include the private sector since much of Mauritius’ wildlife survives on private land. One of the largest and most important areas of privately owned land for native wildlife is the Ferney Valley (approximately 600 ha.) in the Bambous Mountains. The valley is owned by the Mauritian Company, Ferney Ltd. In 2008 a core conservation zone of approximately 175 ha. was created and the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust, with a duration of 25 years, set up to manage this area. The Bambous Mountains cover an area of 4,754 ha, of which a significant proportion is privately owned or managed (Appendix 5). These mountains have been identified as a priority area for expansion of the ‘Protected Area Network’ (PAN) project for the Republic of Mauritius, funded by the Government of Mauritius and the United Nations Development Programme.Ferney will be the first site in the Bambous Mountains to benefit from the three-year funding period under the ‘PAN Project’ and will enable additional areas of forest to be restored.

Conservation in the Ferney Valley, and the involvement of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, began in 1987 when Mauritius Kestrels were reintroduced to the valley, and later to the whole of the Bambous Mountains. The Ferney Valley had traditionally been a deer hunting estate but the whole area was threatened by a proposed highway, and in 2004 a protest was launched to stop the development, and the destruction of the wildlife that would have been caused. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation was a key player in this, providing information and advice to decision makers and contributing to stakeholder meetings. In October 2005, the Government halted the road construction based on the high biodiversity value of the area and especially because of its Mauritius Kestrel population. Critically Endangered species of plants had been discovered along the proposed road track including Pandanusmacrostigma, P. iceryi, Eugenia bojeri and Olaxpsittacorum.

In early 2006, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation developed a strategic document, called the ‘The Ferney Valley – A Vision for the Future’ and worked with the Valley de Ferney Ltd advising on nature trails and training conservation staff and eco-tour guides. The valley was opened to the public in November 2006, and officially opened by the Prime Minister in August 2008, when the ‘Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust’ was also launched.

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has continued to work closely with the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust to monitor and manage the biodiversity and to advise on ecotourism. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2013 between the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Vallée de Conservation Trust to continue and develop the conservation management of the valley and its endemic species. The following ten priorities have been identified and it is for these that we are seeking funding:
• Train twelve Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust restoration staff in the principles and techniques of habitat restoration.
• Train twelve Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust staff in nursery practice to facilitate the increase in its native plant production from 3,000 to at least 5,000 seedlings annually. Most of these will be planted into managed areas of forest.
• Increase the number of searches for rare plants to look for new populations. Seeds and cuttings of the rarest will be harvested to propagate the species in the nursery.
• Restore 9 ha. of forest in the valley, providing habitat for reintroduced endemic plants and birds.
• Reintroduce a population of the Echo Parakeet, these will be managed by the provision of food and nest-boxes.
• Reintroduce a population of Pink Pigeons, these will be managed by the provision of food and the control/exclusion of mammalian predators around feeding and nesting sites.
• Increase the visibility of the Mauritius Kestrels by placing or maintaining nest-boxes in places where the visitors to the valley will be able to see the nesting birds and by habituating a few kestrels to take supplemental food from a Mauritian guide.
• Train five Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust guides to include new components to the tours, including visiting supplemental feeding sites for the parakeets and pigeons and to see the focal pairs of Mauritius Kestrels.
• Assess the suitability of the habitat in the Ferney Valley for the declining endemic Mauritius Cuckoo-shrike Coracinatypica and Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphonedesolata.
• Trails and tours assessed for school groups and an upgraded educational tour implemented.

The proposed actions trigger the following National Priorities under the GEF/SGP Country Programme Strategy:

SGP OP5 Immediate Objective 1: Conservation of local natural resources with a view to achieving sustainable development, Ecosystem conservation through establishment and management of protected area networks. Increasing the size of the forest estate, protection of watersheds and replacement of harmful invasive exotic species by native species. Development of eco-tourism.
SGP OP5 Immediate Objective 5: Support the conservation and enhancement of carbon stocks through sustainable management and climate proofing of land use, land use change and forestry (National Priorities: Increasing the size of the forest estate (carbon sinks), protection of watersheds and replacement of harmful invasive exotic species by native species).
SGP OP5 Immediate Objective 10: (National Priority: Educate people and raise awareness on sustainable development).

In addition, the project supports the country’s national and international obligations to plans and conventions: the National Biodiversity and Strategy Action Plan (2006-2015), National Invasive Alien Species Strategy (2010-2019) and ‘Maurice Ile Durable’ (MID) Policy, Strategy and Action Plan. The last is forecasted to be a key national document.
The proposed project is consonant with one of the main strategies of MID: ‘Stop the degradation of sensitive and vulnerable ecosystems’ (http://environment.gov.mu).


1.2 Organizational Background and Capacity to implement the project

Background on the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is a Registered Charity (No.2134) established in 1984, and is Corporate Social Responsibility registered (No. 1070). The Foundation works closely with the Government of Mauritius and the Rodrigues Regional Assembly, formalised in memoranda of understanding (MOU). The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and BirdLife International.

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation works with international conservation organisations that provide long-term technical, staff and financial support. These include the North of England Zoological Society and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust with whom it has memoranda of understanding. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has long-term research projects (>30 years), derived from its data sets and annual monitoring of restored bird and reptile populations, with the Universities of Reading, Kent, East Anglia and Reunion.
The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is the only national non-government organization to be exclusively concerned with the conservation of terrestrial native and endemic species and their habitats. The head office is located in Vacoas, Mauritius and there is a Rodrigues branch.

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation’s projects are overseen by a council consisting of 15 members and supervised by the following senior managers:
• The organisation’s work is run by an Executive Director, who has ten years experience in the organization and is a Chartered Accountant.
• The conservation work is advised by a Scientific Director, supported by the Conservation Director and Fauna Manager who are both Mauritians and have doctorates in Mauritian biodiversity and conservation.
• The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation employs 80 full-time paid staff on Mauritius and Rodrigues with about 20 full-time and 8 part time expatriate and Mauritian volunteers.
• The work will be overseen by the Conservation Director with the help of the Fauna Manager and other key staff, and with inputs from the Scientific Director and Executive Director. Conservation activities will be conducted by the Mauritius Kestrel, Echo Parakeet, Pink Pigeon, Passerine and Flora field teams, each has full-time experienced and qualified (BSc and/or MSc degrees) Coordinators, staff and volunteers. Ecotourism and education components will be managed in collaboration with the Ecotour and Awareness team. All activities will be planned in consultation with a designated representative of the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust. Where required, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation will consult with, and when necessary bring in external expertise.

Purpose and Core activities of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation:
• Save the threatened native and endemic species of the Republic of Mauritius, Rodrigues, and their habitats through species management and the restoration of the entire ecosystems.
• Seek new information through field research, data management, captive studies, and scientific collaboration for direct application to conservation restoration methods.
• Share knowledge gained through restoration programmes with fellow national and international conservationists.
• Share joys and benefits of native wilderness and wildlife with the nation’s people.
• Secure the future of the nation’s native and endemic species through income generation and sound management of human, fiscal, and capital resources.

The main activities of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation are:
• Ecosystem restoration on the islands of Ile aux Aigrettes (26 ha.), Round Island (219 ha.), Ile Cocos (Rodrigues) (15 ha.), Ile aux Sables (Rodrigues) (8 ha.) and on mainland areas Mondrain (5 ha.) and in Rodrigues Grande Montagne (26 ha.) and AnseQuitor (35 ha.) Nature Reserves. In all of these restorations there has been planting with nursery grown plants and weed management, together in some cases with fauna management and studies.
• Education and ecotourism. On Ile aux Aigrettes, educational and ecotourism tours have been conducted since 1997 (and earlier). On Rodrigues, MWF runs an education programme in schools and villages conducting talks, tours of nature reserves, and organising Conservation Days for community volunteers.
• Captive breeding/rearing and intensive management of wild/free-living endemic birds. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has restored the populations of Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon and Echo Parakeet, and are now working on restoring the Mauritius FodyFoudiarubra, Mauritius Olive White-eye Zosteropschloronothos, and other endemic passerines. Long-term population and ecological studies on the Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalusrodricanus and RodriguesFodyFoudiaflavicans.
• Restoring reptile communitieson islands. Sequential releases of different combinations of seven species of endemic reptiles on six different islands. Also two species of tortoises are translocated to a seventh island to act as ecological replacements for the extinct Mauritian tortoises. These translocations were to islands that had been cleared of alien mammalian predators and habitat modifiers.
• Seabird research and conservation. Long term study on the restoration of the Round Island Petrel Pterodromaarminjoniana. Translocations of seabirds onto an island where they have been lost and population studies on populations of all breeding species.
• Plant conservation. Developing methods to increase populations of the most threatened plant species through propagations in our nurseries, representation in field gene-banks, reintroduction into protected areas, and protection of wild founders.
• Fruit Bat research and conservation. Captive breeding studies of fruit bat of Mauritius and Rodrigues, and long-term population monitoring of Rodrigues Fruit Bat Pteropusrodricensis.
• Research. Studies to support the conservation work. Long-term population monitoring of restored and focal populations of plants, reptiles, birds and bats.


Previous experience specifically related to the proposed project.
The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has successfully managed and implemented a wide range of conservation and awareness r+aising projects. These include:
• Restoration of critically endangered birds. The following techniques were developed and used successfully for the Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon and Echo Parakeet by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation:captive breeding, head-starting using harvested eggs and young, reintroduction, translocations, supplemental feeding of free-living birds, provision of nest-boxes, enhancement of natural nest-sites, control and exclusion of invasive alien mammals around feeding and nesting sites.
• Monitoring of bird populations. Census distribution and numbers of endemic birds and monitoring of survival and productivity.
• Long-term research. All bird restoration programmes have been supported by research evaluating the affect of management practices and analyzing patterns of productivity and survival.
• Conservation of critically endangered plant species. These are grown in nurseries from seeds, cutting or seedlings harvested from the wild and head-started.
• Restoration of the plant communities. Extensive experience propagating native plants and using nursery grown plants to rebuild plant communities. Managing plant communities by controlling invasive plants.
• Ecotourism and education programmes. Experience running an ecotourism project on Ile aux Aigrettes for 15 years and have education programmes on Ile aux Aigrettes and Rodrigues for school children. On Rodrigues, we also run community education projects on biodiversity and conservation.
• Training in conservation. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation runs its own induction course for all staff, volunteers and partners and is currently developing a Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Conservation Biology. Has run courses on invasive species management to national stakeholders in Mauritius and Rodrigues.

The proposed project builds upon several UNDP GEF SGP projects that have been successfully implemented by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, namely:

Title of Project Project Number Grant Amount (USD)
The Conservation of the Mauritian Echo Parakeet MAR/95/G52/I/01 48,384

Sustainable Use of Rodriguan Endemic Plants
MAR/98/G52/II/03 48,554
Development of a predator-exclusion enclosure for upland forest conservation
MAR/01/04 47,187

Additional request Development of predator-exclusion enclosure for upland forest conservation MAR/04/02 12,471

The Management of the Nature Reserves of Ile aux Cocos and Ile aux Sables, Rodrigues, for Tourism and Wildlife
MAR/05/03 50,000

The Management of the nature reserves of Ile aux Cocos and Ile aux Sables, Rodrigues, for Tourism and Wildlife -Additional Funding MAR/SGP/OP4/RAF/07/06 2,918

Restoration of AnseQuitor Nature Reserve (Rodrigues) MAR/SGP/OP4/RAF/Yr3/09/01 50,000

Restoring Grande Montagne Nature Reserve through Community Participation MAR/SGP/OP5/CORE/BD/12/05 50,000


These projects have allowed the development of avicultural and horticultural techniques, wildlife managementstrategies and approaches to education that will be applied in Ferney, if the project is approved.

Background on the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust
The Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust represents a public-private partnership between the Government of Mauritius and CIEL Group, that came into existence in 2008. There are four Trustees, two from the CIEL Group and two nominated by the Government of Mauritius currently represented by one Trustee from the Ministry of Agro Industry and one from Discovery Mauritius.



Purpose and Core activities of the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust

The Trust is dedicated to the restoration and protection of the natural habitats contained within a core conservation zone of approximately 175 ha situated in the Ferney Valley.
The purpose of the Trust is:
To protect, conserve, nurture and maintain the conservation zone
To organize public access and visits in a manner compatible with an environmentally friendly enjoyment of the conservation zone
To foster, promote, encourage and develop research, knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the endemic species of flora and fauna found in the Conservation Zone, and generally encourage understanding of the ecological values and features of the latter.

The Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust has sub-contracted the day to day management of the site to La Vallée de Ferney Company Ltd which is owned 40% by the Government of Mauritius and 60% by Ferney Limited. The role of La Vallée de Ferney Company Ltd is to:
• Organize, advertise and manage the visits to the Conservation Zone.
• Charge, collect and account for entrance fees.
• Construct, maintain and operate such buildings, structures, fixtures and pathways and tracks; and acquire and maintain vehicles for the transportation of visitors to the Conservation Zone.
• Be accountable to the Board of Trustee for running of such operations.




It is expressly agreed between the shareholders of La Vallée de Ferney Company Ltd that ninety percent (90%) of any distributable profits realized by this company in any financial year will be, so far as permitted by law, be paid into the trust.

The Trust will contribute to the project in the following way:
• Forest restoration including weeding and planting
• Protection of Rare Plants by propagation of plants in nursery and planting in the protected area
• Provision of a Field Station for the Conservation staff
• Provision of infrastructure for the projects including release aviaries
• Staff trained and delivering educational ecotours
• Resource materials for educational ecotours
• Signage for ecotours
• Trained Kestrel for greater exposure to the public
• Additional forest trail for greater access to the Conservation Management Area
• Community participation actions

1.3 Project Objectives and Expected Results
1.3.1 Problem statement
Mauritius was formerly clothed with tropical forests. Over four centuries of exploitation of natural resources have reduced good quality native forest to less than 2% of the land cover of Mauritius and even these are being degraded by a host of invasive alien plants and animals. A long list of plants and animals are either totally extinct, or reduced to a handful of individuals, or extinct over a large proportion of their former range. The ecosystems are much degraded and interactions between plants and animals have been highly perturbed. The self-regeneration of Mauritian forestis impossible under such circumstances.

It is largely agreed that direct involvement of conservationists are required to restore plants and animals and getting the ecosystems to function once again, although it is recognizedthat with the extinction of some of the original biodiversity, such ecosystems cannot revert back to a full pristine state and will require long-term management.

Thescale of degradation of ecosystems and the cost of labour and other inputs have meant that the area of land restored to date in Mauritius is low (< 300 Ha on the mainland) compared to the thousands of hectares that could be restored. In addition, most of the forest cover of Mauritius is privately owned or managed. There has been limited interest to restore forests by the private sector. One such area is the Ferney Valley, which is nested in one of the best native forest in the Bambous Mountains The forests are degraded but still contain many native plants and animals including Critically Endangered species. The area has lost several bird species, some in the last century. Without management, degradation of the forests and the continued loss of fauna and flora will continue.Whilst some actions are already being undertaken in the valley, these efforts need to be increased in intensity. The lack of funding has slowed down the restoration of the valley. If the appeal is successful, this will provide vital start-up funds to conduct a number of activities that will increase the restoration rate of the valley and bring in more visitors for the long term sustainability of the project.


1.3.2 Primary and specific objectives of the proposed project

The primary objective is to improve the health and diversity of native wildlife of the Ferney Valley by improving the quality of the habitat and reintroducing missing bird species. These birds will be managed to maintain adequate levels of survival and productivity and so they may be easily seen by visitors, increasing their value for education and ecotourism. The highest standard of field and captive veterinary standards and welfare will be ensured through the guidance of the Veterinary Consultant, and advisors.

Training in the principles and techniques of habitat restoration. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation have extensive experience in habitat restoration and will train the conservation workers in the Ferney Valley, showing them best practices, and work alongside them to adapt and develop practices.

Train in nursery practice. The Ferney Valley has a field nursery for growing plants for reintroduction into areas of forest that are being restored. The staff will be trained in propagation techniques by horticulturists from the North of England Zoological Society, with the support of Mauritian Wildlife Foundation horticulturists, who will deliver a two week long course on horticulture accredited by the Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh. To facilitate information flow an exchange of staff between the nurseries of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the Ferney Valley will be implemented. This training will be to improve the propagation and production of native and endangered species from 3,000 to a minimum of 5,000 seedlings annually. These will be planted into managed areas of forest.



Rare plant searches.The Ferney Valley is rich in floristic diversity. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has a botanist who surveys for rare plants. The number of searches will be increased to look for new populations of threatened endemic plant taxa. Seeds and cuttings of the rarest will be harvested to propagate the species in the nursery.

Restore forest. Using techniques developed on Mauritius over the last three decades, restore 9 ha. of forest in the valley, providing habitat for reintroduced endemic plants and birds. The area will be restored by removing all the invasive plants and in badly degraded areas replacing some of the “missing species”, and fencing the area to exclude deer and pigs. Up to 20,000 native and endemic plants will be planted in these restoration sites.

Reintroduce a population of the Echo Parakeet. The Echo Parakeet was found in the Bambous Mountains until the early 20th century. At least twenty to thirty healthy and genetically diverse fledgling young from breeding pairs in the Black River Gorges will be harvested, and “soft” released in the Ferney Valley. Pre-release they will be housed in aviaries, and these will then become the focus for supplemental feeding.
The management of these birds will mirror the management of the wild birds and they will be provided with food to make up any shortfalls in natural food availability, they will be provided with nest-boxes and closely monitored.

Reintroduce a population of Pink Pigeons. The pigeons were historically present in this region, and experience from elsewhere in Mauritius suggests that a reintroduced population will do well in the Ferney Valley provided they are fed, and exotic mammalian predators are controlled or excluded around supplemental feeding sites.
During this proposed grant period fifteen birds will be harvested from other managed populations and reintroduced to the Ferney Valley, and later the number will be increased to 30-40 birds.

Making Mauritius Kestrels more visible to visitors.The Mauritius Kestrel has become the most well known of all of Mauritius’ birds due to its spectacular recovery from near extinction. The population of c.50 pairs of Mauritius Kestrels in the Bambous Mountains is the largest, and the most productive pairs are in the Ferney Valley. It is proposed to make the kestrels more accessible to the tourists and students. This will be done by placing additional nest-boxes in places where the visitors to the valley will be able to easily view them and maintaining/upgrading nest-boxes that have been supporting birds in the valley. It is also planned to train wild birds to fly to a Mauritian trainer daily for food so that ecotour visitors and students can get good views and learn about the kestrels and their conservation. The kestrels are naturally tame and as part of their conservation management some pairs have, in the past, been trained to respond when called to take food. This extra food helps increase their breeding success.

Increase the population of Mauritius Kestrels in the Valley. Survey the area to find sites with suitable habitat to install nest-boxes to support an increase in the total population of kestrels.

Assess the suitability of the area for native passerines. Preliminary studiessuggest that there is habitat in the Ferney Valley for both the Mauritius Cuckoo-shrike and Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher, which are both absent. Further studies are needed to assess the quality of the habitat and to calculate how many birds it is likely to hold. The Mauritius Cuckoo-shrike, is a declining endemic passerine that was once found in the valley, but it was probably extirpated in the 1950’s by organochloride pesticides no longer in use. To re-introduce the cuckoo-shrikes, hand-reared birds would likely be the best candidates, but before any releases the techniques for hand rearing cuckoo-shrikes will need to be developed.
The Mauritius Paradise Flycatcher is uncommon, and if there is sufficient habitat for this species then it is likely that the translocation of adults would be the release method of choice, as demonstrated for other flycatchers elsewhere.

Improve educational component. Trails and tours assessed for school groups and an upgraded educational tour implemented.

Enhance ecotourism and educational value of the Valley. Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust guides trained to include new components to the tours, including visiting supplemental feeding sites for the parakeets and pigeons and to see the focal pairs of Mauritius Kestrels. Upgrade and update current signage or create new signage and create a new trail.

Rationale

Mauritius has a long-term declining biodiversity due to the degradation and destruction of forests. Conservation efforts have focused mainly on offshore islets and the Black River Gorges National Park. Less attention has been devoted to the second largest contiguous area of forest on Mauritius, the Bambous Mountains.

There is still a lack of knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the uniqueness of Mauritian biodiversity within its population. There have been fears that with the lack of appreciation by the Mauritian people about conservation, there may be long-term problems in rallying popular, institutional, and corporate support. By improving the awareness of Mauritians to the conservation work greater national support can be generated.

Mauritius is dependent on tourism for its economic development but in recent years, the sector has been suffering from global recession with beach tourism losing its appeal. Consequently ecotourism is the fastest growing sector of tourism both in Mauritius and worldwide.
In Mauritius ecotourism can contribute to sustainable economic growth and environmental protection, the development of inland tourism. Improvements in ecotourism in the Ferney Valley will ensure that the valley is an attraction to tourists, bringing in much needed foreign currency.

The proposal will thrust the Ferney Valley into mainstream Mauritian conservation. The area can be a focus for wider scale conservation on the East Coast. The project supports the national objectives set under the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan for the Republic of Mauritius, the National Invasive Alien Species Strategy and Action Plan, Maurice Ile Durable, the GEF UNDP - Government of Mauritius Sustainable Land Management Project, and Protected Area Network Project, and the GEF SGP UNDP objectives 1, 5, 10. Partnership between this project and the PAN project will be sought and any additional activity and financial support this may entail would be submitted to the PAN Steering Committee for consideration.


Specific results or outcomes

The proposed actions will upgrade the conservation work in the Ferney Valley and facilitate its long-term development and sustainability.

Trained personnel in habitat restoration will ensure that there is the capacity to increase the area of restored native forest. The increased search for rare plants may reveal new populations of species currently considered Vulnerable, Endangered and Critically Endangered. More skilled attention will be given to the propagation of native plants and especially the most endangered species and these will be planted in areas where they can add to the floristic diversity. These will be managed to ensure high rates of survival.

The kestrels will be more accessible and most visitors will have the opportunity to view them at nest sites or to see tame habituated birds.

The reintroduction projects will result in populations of the Pink Pigeon and Echo Parakeet and the Bambous Mountains may eventually be able to hold populations of several hundred individuals of both species. Although these birds will have to be managed until large tracts of native forest have been fully restored, they will still be under some natural selection and fulfilling their ecological functions in the ecosystem. There has been co-evolution between these birds and some endemic plants and the Echo Parakeets disperse the fruits of many of the trees and are hence important to the health and regeneration of the forest.

The assessment of the area for establishing reintroduced native passerines will inform us on how to progress to restore the bird community welfare and animal health.

The ecotour guides will receive additional training and this will improve the visitor experience.

The education programme in the Ferney Valley will be re-assessed and where possible upgraded, to have the greatest positive impacts on students.

The above described activities will create jobs for people from the neighbouring communities and more broadly for Mauritian field biologists. It is anticipated that the forest restoration and nursery staff would be increased by 50% (3 additional staff) which is budgeted under the current project, and the construction of the aviaries and the trail would create short term employment in the region. It is predicted that with an increase in visitor numbers the employment in the ecotour, restaurant and shop will also be increased by around 30% - 50%, creating 2 to 3 additional jobs which are not budgeted in the project. The introduction and subsequent monitoring of birds will support around 3 to 4 permanent jobs for local staff. Links with the UNDP GEF SGP grantees of Grand Sables and Petit Sables with the Ferney Valley will be explored in terms of exchange of expertise and experience and commercialization of products. The women beneficiaries will gain through empowerment and income generation.


1.4 Description of Project Activities

The activities in the table below will be conducted in the Ferney Valley, to increase its biological richness and as an educational and ecotourism resource. Supporting activities may be undertaken in other locations. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation will collaborate with the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust, the North of England Zoological Society (NEZS, UK) and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (DWCT, UK) to implement these actions.





Objective
Activity Responsible party Time frame Location Outcomes Beneficiaries
A. Habitat restoration A.1 Training of restoration staff (nursery and in field) MWF Jul - Dec 2013 Ferney Valley,
Ile aux Aigrettes, Black River Gorges National Park. 12 Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust staff trained in habitat restoration and nursery practice
Mauritian biodiversity,
Restoration labourers
A.2 Weeding VdF Jul 2013 – Jun 2016 Ferney Valley 9 ha. of forest restored in the valley, providing habitat for reintroduced endemic birds and native wildlife

A.3 Propagation of plants in nursery VdF Jul 2013 – Jun 2016 Ferney Valley Capacity of the Ferney Valley nursery to produce plants increased from 3,000 to at least 5,000 seedlings annually
A.4 Planting of native species VdF Jan – Jun 2014, 15, 16 Ferney Valley Up from 10,000 native plants planted over three years
A.5 Supervision MWF / VdF Jul 2013 – Jun 2016 Ferney Valley Effective supervision of all trained personnel
A.6 Rare Plant Search MWF Jul 2013 – Jun 2016 Ferney Valley Rare plant searches may reveal new populations of threatened endemic plants. Propagation of plants to increase the population
B. Enhancement of the ecotour

B.1 Training and updating in plant and animal conservation in the Ferney Valley MWF Jul 2013 – Jun 2016 Ferney Valley,
Ile aux Aigrettes, Black River Gorges National Park Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust guides trained in biodiversity with increased knowledge, improving the quality of the tours








Mauritian and tourist visitors
B.2 Review of the Ecotour MWF Jul – Dec 2013 Results of the review
B.3 Addition of one trail VdF Jan – Jun 2014 Trail completed
B.4 Signage and information created / updated VdF/MWF Apr 2014 - Mar 2015 Ferney Valley Updated signage

Objective Activity Responsible party Time frame Location Outcomes Beneficiaries
B.5 Trained Mauritius Kestrels MWF Jun – Dec 2013 Ferney Valley Mauritius Kestrels trained and visible to public

C. Education and awareness programme development for schools C.1 Assessment of the trail for school groups MWF Jan - Jun 2014 Ferney Valley Report on the assessment
School children
C.2 Creation of the educational/fun tour MWF / VdF Jul - Nov 2014 Ferney Valley Educational tour designed
C.3 Training of VdF guides and implementation of tour MWF Dec 2014-Feb 2015 Ferney Valley Educational tour operational
D. Passerine conservation D.1 Assessment of food and habitat for passerines reintroduction MWF Jul 2013 - Mar 2014 Ferney Valley Report on the food and habitat assessment for the potential translocation of passerines, and translocations planned Passerines of Mauritius and native ecosystems
D.2 Trial translocation of passerines MWF, DWCT, NEZS Jul 2014 - Mar 2015 & Jul 2015 - Mar 2016 Black River Gorges National Park &Ferney Valley Mauritius Cuckoo-shrikes and or Mauritius Paradise Flycatchers reintroduced to the Ferney Valley, if assessment of food and habitat favourable

D.3 Monitoring of passerines MWF Jul 2014 - Mar 2015 & Jul 2015 - Mar 2016 Ferney Valley Population and ecological data produced from the birds monitored post-release
E. Mauritius Kestrel Conservation E.1 Survey and monitoring MWF July – Mar 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 Ferney Valley Data produced on the Mauritius Kestrel population in the valley
Mauritius Kestrels and native ecosystems


Objective Activity Responsible party Time frame Location Outcomes Beneficiaries
E.2 Erection and maintainance of nest-boxes MWF Jul-Sep 2013, 2014, 2015 Ferney Valley Maintain over 20 current nestboxes

Place and maintain at least five additional nest boxes

F. Echo Parakeet Conservation
F.1 Construction of release aviaries
VdF



Jul - Sep 2014

Ferney Valley



Echo Parakeet release aviaries built






Echo Parakeetsandnativeecosystems
F.2 Harvesting and handrearing MWF, DWCT, NEZS Oct - Dec 2014, 2015 Black River Gorges National Park &Ferney Valley 30 Echo Parakeet fledglings harvested for reintroduction
F.3 Release of Echo Parakeet MWF, DWCT, NEZS Oct - Mar 2014, 2015,2016 Ferney Valley Echo Parakeets successfully released

F.4 Monitoring of Echo Parakeet MWF Oct 2013 - Jun 2016 Ferney Valley Population levels and productivity of the Echo Parakeet known enabling corrective management if necessary to boost survival and productivity
F.5 Supplementary feeding MWF Oct 2013 - Jun 2016 Ferney Valley Parakeets obtaining adequate nutrition.
F.6 Predator control MWF Jul 2014 - Jun 2016 Ferney Valley Predator numbers being kept to a manageable level and rates of predation on the parakeets very low



Objective Activity Responsible party Time frame Location Outcomes Beneficiaries


F.7 Erection of nest-boxes
MWF
Jul - Sep 2014, 2015
Ferney Valley
10 nest boxes placed in the valley being used by the parakeets to breed in.

G. Pink Pigeon Conservation G.1 Construction of release aviaries VdF Apr - Jun 2015 Ferney Valley Pink Pigeon release aviaries built Pink Pigeon and native ecosystems
G.2 Harvesting and handrearing MWF, DWCT, NEZS Jul 2015 – Jun 2016 Black River Gorges National Park, Ile aux Aigrettes & Black River Aviaries 15 birds harvested
G.3 Release of Pink Pigeons MWF Oct 2015 - Jun 2016 Ferney Valley 15 Pink Pigeons released in the valley
G.4 Monitoring of Pink Pigeons MWF Oct 2015 - Jun 2016 Ferney Valley Data on released birds monitored

G.5 Supplementary feeding MWF Oct 2015 - Jun 2016 Ferney Valley Data on hopper watches and food hoppers set up
G.6 Predator control MWF Jul 2015 - Jun 2016 Ferney Valley Data on Predator control implemented to protect released Pink Pigeons and physical traps and poison tubes
G.7 Veterinary advice MWF Apr – Jun 2014 Ferney Valley MWF’s Veterinary Consultant from the International Zoo Veterinary Group advises on all animal health and welfare issues Endemic birds of Mauritius


1.5 Implementation Plan and Time Frame
See Annex 2
1.6 Plan to Ensure Community Participation

The Ferney Valley is private land where the main activity was traditionally deer hunting. It is part of the Ferney Sugar Estate. The valley is located in the South-east of Mauritius and has until recently been poorly known by the wider community.

Due to the publicity the area received as a result of the South Eastern Highway Project, and the realisation of the Ferney Valley’s rich native biodiversity, the valley is now well known with increasing numbers of visitors. In 2012, 14,000 tourists, Mauritian adults and school children visited the Ferney Valley, and this figure is increasing annually.

The development of the valley for visitors and undertaking restoration work has created employment for local men and women. More employment will be created with increased visitor numbers and greater conservation activity in the valley especially forest restoration. Increased visitor numbers will not only create jobs within the valley (guides, restaurant, shop) but also in the vicinity of the valley (restaurants, handicrafts, use of local shops, other services).
There is tremendous potential for the Ferney Valley visitors centre shop to promote the sale of handicraft products from the region and for the restaurant to source locally produced ingredients.

The Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust is committed to involve the local community in the development of its activities through the forest conservation, its shop and its restaurant. ‘Forces Vives’ of the villages located in the vicinity, pupils of primary schools and senior citizen of local villages will be invited to visit the Ferney Valley free of charge, transport will be provided, in order to build up a relationship with the local community and improve communication. Several NGOs involved in local handicrafts, small farm producers and other entrepreneurs operating in the region will be invited to propose their products. In the restaurant this could be fish, poultry, onions and vegetables. Items for the shop could include pickles, handmade products made in vacoas or wood such as guava. Contact has already been made between La Vallee de Ferney and the SGP beneficiaries of Grand Sables, as well as other local communities. Vacoas baskets, plate mats, pickles are currently sold at La Vallee de Ferney, and other products are under development.

The Mauritius Kestrel population is managed by Mauritian field biologists. The kestrels attract birdwatchers and tourists who are shown them by local guides.

The Pink Pigeons and Echo Parakeets will need long-term management to maintain sustainable numbers by daily feeding and the provision of nest-boxes for the parakeets. This work will be conducted by Mauritian field biologists. The birds will all be monitored to record distribution numbers, productivity and survival and this will be conducted by local field workers and students. When we have expatriate post-graduate students studying the endemic birds they will be partnered by Mauritian counterparts.

The longer-term plans to bring back some of the native passerines ensures a growing vision for the valley that includes increasing involvement of Mauritian field biologists and students.

Undergraduate students from the University of Mauritius undertake projects in the Valleé de Ferney studying the biodiversity and habitat restoration. Traditionally some of these students join conservation organizations, either the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Government or the private sector and use the acquired knowledge, and training, to further conserve national biodiversity. Dedicated staff often progress in their careers to reach field or project management positions, or academically by embarking on more advanced studies (MSc’s and PhD’s).

The proposed conservation work, and especially the bird reintroductions, will further raise its national and international profile and will enhance it as a resource for tourism and education. An increased visitation rate to the Ferney Valley will bring business to the neighbouring villages of Petit Bel Air, Riviere des Creoles, Vieux Grand Port and Bois des Amourettes.
The education programme will facilitate local groups to contribute to the habitat restoration in the valley by assisting with weeding and planting.

1.7 Knowledge Management

The proposed work will become part of a permanent project, and knowledge and data management are high priorities. The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation is committed to running projects in perpetuity, maintaining continuity in management practices when appropriate, and keeping long-term data sets. Consequently the Foundation runs induction lectures and refresher courses for all staff, volunteers and students to ensure standards of management and data collection.

Data from the three bird species (Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon and Echo Parakeet) will form part of a larger data set that has been managed for over two decades.
Records from the propagation of plants are kept on a data base to look at patterns of germination and survival. The results from all the project areas will be written up in annual reports that will be circulated to collaborators.
Conservation management practices are regularly being reviewed and we are in contact with other organisations that are trying to achieve similar aims, to share experiences, learn new techniques, and aim for best practice.

The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has research partners in several universities and hosts MSc and PhD students that answer important questions of relevance to our conservation programmes. Scientific results are regularly published.

The scientific projects will be carefully documented and analysed for publications in peer-reviewed journals, ensuring that the information flows to the wider scientific community. Developments in the Ferney Valley will be the subject of regular popular articles in the local press, in addition to being featured in the MWF and Ferney Trust Newsletters, website and digital communication including Facebook. Special media coverage effort will be organized for major events such as the release of Pink Pigeons and Echo Parakeet.

The work in the valley will be presented to local and tourists through the upgraded tours and signage in the Visitors Centre. Visitors to Ile aux Aigrettes will also be able to learn about the restoration efforts in the Ferney Valley.

Training sessions in nursery propagation, habitat restoration, invasive species control, guiding for tourists and school children, will be held for staff working on the project both from and Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust, so that a high standard in conservation and awareness is maintained at all times.

A case study of the project will be prepared at the end of the project as per the SGP template and shared with all stakeholders and on the SGP website.


1.8 Gender Mainstreaming
All partners and associates in the project have a gender neutral policy, and in some cases employ more female than male staff. Recruitment for this project will ensure that the balance between female and males is maintained and it is anticipated that many of the job opportunities created will be more suited to females.






1.9 Communication and Replication of Project Results
The goals, activities, and results of this project will be shared with the community and key stakeholders through the visitor programme. Project activities and achievements will be showcased on the MWF and Ferney Trust website (www.mauritian-wildlife.org), in the MWF Annual report, the MWF and Ferney Trust newsletters, at the Ferney Visitors Centre and when possible at conferences, workshops and special presentations. Participation in media events will be welcome and scientific articles covering the work in the valley will be produced, so that a maximum number of people are aware of the project.

Project updates will also be provided to the major stakeholders, the Vallée de Ferney Conservation Trust and the National Parks and Conservation Service. Access to staff of the Government of Mauritius’ conservation departments will be ensured.

Opportunities to share experience, developing Ferney as a conservation and ecotourism hub with representatives from the Mascarenes and beyond will be explored. The Ferney Valley can become a model for the Mauritian private sector, where conservation of biodiversity critically needs to be implemented.

 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
Country:
Mauritius
Area Of Work:
Biodiversity
Operational Phase:
Phase 5
Grant Amount:
US$ 150,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 371,832.95
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 154,241.97
Project Number:
MAR/SGP/OP5/Yr3/STAR/BD/13/01
Start Date:
9/2013
End Date:
8/2016
Status:
Currently under execution
Project Characteristics and Results
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Indicators
Biophysical
Hectares of globally significant biodiversity area protected or sustainably managed by project 9
Empowerment
Number of women participated / involved in SGP project 6
Livehood
Number of individuals (gender diaggregated) who have benefited* from SGP project 19