France's decision to seek World Heritage listing for New Caledonia's reef has triggered a new round of research to find out which parts of the coral barrier most merit protection.
Conservation groups in New Caledonia have given a guarded welcome to an endorsement from the French president, Jacques Chirac, for their plan to enlist the territory's reef as a world heritage site.
New Caledonia's coral reef is about 1-thousand, 6-hundred kilometres long, and is the biggest in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Jean-Louis D'Auzon of the New Caledonian association for nature conservation, says he'll now work out which parts of the reef deserve the highest protection status.
Mr D'Auzon says this project will be assisted by the French Initiative for Coral Reefs, or IFRECOR.
"What we are doing actually, our association, with IFRECOR, is to study coral reefs, in order to know what different species of coral reefs, and what are the dangers, and what we should do or not do."
Jean-Louis D'Auzon of the New Caledonian association for nature conservation.