Nickel, Tesla and two decades of environmental activism: Q&A with leader Raphaël Mapou – by Nick Rodway ( – June 22, 2022)

GORO, New Caledonia – Known widely as the “Madagascar of the Pacific,” New Caledonia is coated in remnant Gondwana rainforest and surrounded by reefs rich in marine life that constitute one of the largest marine parks on earth. It is a French territory located approximately 1,470 kilometers (900 miles) northeast of Brisbane, Australia.

Despite its size, New Caledonia punches far above its weight ecologically. It houses the longest continuous barrier reef in the world and is internationally renowned for its plant species, over 80% of which are endemic. The territory is also one of the world’s largest producers of nickel and holds a quarter of the earth’s known reserves.

Despite the wealth nickel mining has produced on Grand Terre, the principal island of the nation, the extraction of the metal has had an ambiguous social and environmental impact on the country’s Indigenous people, the Kanak community.

With the archipelago colonized by the French in the mid-19th century, there is still little formal recognition of the Kanak community’s legal and customary attachment to their traditional lands.

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