A high population density and rapid economic development mean that greater demands are being made on the
environment in Mauritius. Several factors such as land and water may become limiting factors in the near future if not properly managed.
Water is not yet scarce but massive investment is needed to keep up with a growing demand. The treatment of
domestic and industrial sewage is lagging and most of it is left untreated, flowing directly into the surrounding lagoon.
The tourist industry and other related business activities have developed mainly on coastal zones which are
fragile. The greater importance beaches and the sea have acquired as leisure centres for the population over the years, the increased
number of tourists on the island and the pressure from property developers for more coastal land for yet more hotels place considerable
pressure on coastal ecosystems. It is urgent to address the issues of coastal zone management, tourist development and access to
beaches by the public before the situation becomes inextricable.
Agriculture and sugar, the backbone of the economy are heavily dependent on very important inputs of fertilisers
and herbicides, it is important to asses the sustainability of such practices.
The management of waste primarily consists of dumping it in the open air at designated locations. At present there
is only one landfill in the East of the country and a few recycling plants but there are no plans to incinerate waste for the production of
Recycling is still in its infancy and few recycling plants exist. But in the coming years, it is expected that
recycling will become more common place. Indeed, the size of the island and its limited capacity to absorb an ever growing quantity of
waste makes recycling inevitable.
The number of vehicles on the roads has shot up dramatically over the last five years. The inevitable result is
congestion on the roads, traffic jams and increased journey time to and from work at peak times in spite of a spectacular improvement
in the local road system. Furthermore, unleaded petrol is still not available on the island. Debate is underway over the introduction of unleaded
petrol; but there is hope. No studies have yet been carried out to quantify the impact of leaded petrol and heavy vehicular fumes on the
health of the inhabitants.
Power generation is principally dependent on oil. Around 70% of the electricity generated is from oil and coal.
The remainder comes from hydro-electric power. Renewable energy sources have not been developed sufficiently, though sugar-cane
factories have burned bagasse (the fibrous residue left after the processing of sugar cane) for years to generate electric power.
Along with this picture of increasing environmental problems and stresses due to a modern way of life, there is
also the need to preserve a unique wildlife which has evolved over millions of years, spectacular scenery, beautiful lagoons, beaches and
forests for the enjoyment of all.
But there is hope, citizens become much more aware of the need to address environmental problems.
Government, non-governmental organisations, research institutions and even private companies get involved in environmental work to ensure that our
island remains viable. Welcome to Paradise....
Click here to see what is being done to protect endemic birds