16 Jan 2006

WWF labels New Caledonia fires an environmental disaster

11:11 am on 16 January 2006

The environmental organisation WWF says the recent forest fires in New Caledonia have been a disaster.

Dozens of fires erupted last month as the territory is in the middle of a drought which this summer is not linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

The WWF says the fires destroyed more than 45 square kilometres of flora and fauna, much of it unique in the world as New Caledonia has the biggest biodiversity after the African island of Madagascar.

Ahab Downer of WWF New Caledonia says fires killed lizards, insects and snails

Mr Downer says the regeneration is very slow.