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Reunion Island (France). Gorges of the Bras de Caverne. South: 21 01 East: 55 33
Access to the central part of Reunion Island is made difficult by numerous gorges, such as those of the Bras de Caverne River, which hollows out its bed along the volcanic fractures of the Cirque de Salazie. Some sites were not explored until very recently; the Trou de Fer (Iron Hole), a 250-meter- (800-foot-) deep ravine, was visited for the first time in 1989. Free from human control, the tropical forest with its abundance of ferns, lichens, and giant heathers has retained its original state on the volcanic topography of the island. The low-altitude forest, on the other hand, has disappeared. More than 30 species of animals and plants, including about 20 which were endemic, have become extinct in the last 400 years. Island systems are commonly biologically diverse, but because of the limited habitability, their species are generally at greater risk of extinction than those of continents.