Jordan River at Vatthe Conservation Area, Santo, Vanuatu
Red-bellied Fruit-Dove, Santo, Vanuatu
Vatthe Conservation Area, Big Bay, Santo

The Vatthe Conservation Area covers 2,276 hectares of lowland alluvial forest at the southern end of Big Bay on the island of Espiritu Santo. Bush walking and bird watching are popular visitor activities at Vatthe. At least 36 bird species have been recorded including 5 Vanuatu endemics. Local accomodation is available at Bay of Illusions Yacht Club.

The Vatthe Conservation Area Project was initiated in 1994 as a partnership between the local community, NGOs, the provincial and national governments. The basic idea for the project began in 1993 during a biodiversity survey of the area by the Vanuatu Environment Unit in collaboration with the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand. During the study there was some discussion with the community on the idea of setting up a protected area. Some still call it a national park but that's not exactly true. There is very little public land and there are no "national parks" in Vanuatu (the land doesn't belong to the state).

It's not OK to go walking in the bush unguided. Once inside, it all looks the same and the topography is flat. There are no trail maps and markers. You could get lost and some visitors have! Once you have been shown the trails inside the forest you might be trusted to walk alone, which is important for intensive bird watching. You can walk along the beach and road independently.

The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand website has some excellent pages about Vatthe.

Browse higher resolution pictures on our Vanuatu Protected Areas Showcase.

Last updated: October 2011 by Stephen.


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