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FJ08 RAIRAIMATUKU HIGHLANDS

Other names

 Monasavu Dam; Nadrau plateau



Coordinates

 17°46’S, 178°0’E (central Viti Levu)  



Area

 287 km


2

  

Altitude

 approximately 610–930 m

Status

 Unprotected. Site of National Significance.



IBA criteria

 A1 (globally threatened birds); A2 (restricted-range birds)

Basin. Monasavu Dam and associated smaller dams

power a series of hydro-electric generators, providing

the majority of Fiji’s electricity. Forest has been

flooded to create these reservoirs and small areas have

been cleared or degraded around these sites. The dam

is owned by the Fiji government and leased by the

Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA). The forested

watershed is owned by local land-owners but is not

leased or managed by FEA, even though the FEA

relies on the catchment for an uninterrupted supply

of water for its hydropower. Recent logging in the

area, under government permit, has drawn national

and international criticism. It has since been stopped

with forestry officials currently under investigation.

The land tenure is mostly Native Lands except for

three Crown Lands totalling about 1,490 ha.

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Birds



A1 Globally threatened species

[Red-throated Lorikeet (CR) – last known site

(last sighting in 1993); may still occur]



Long-legged Warbler (EN) – one of only two

known populations; at least two pairs





Friendly Ground-dove (VU) – uncommon

Important Bird Areas in Fiji – Site accounts

Viti Levu

M a t a i n a s a u

Tu b a r u a

Mo nasavu

Dam

F J 0 8

0

2



4

km


35



Pink-billed Parrotfinch (VU) – uncommon



Black-faced Shrikebill (VU) – fairly common



Masked Shining Parrot (NT) – uncommon at this

altitude


A2 Restricted-range species

24 species (out of 25 known from Viti Levu),

including all three endemic to Viti Levu. See

Appendix 2.

The montane forests from Rairaimatuku to the

Greater Tomaniivi IBA are the best hope for survival

of Red-throated Lorikeet but ongoing surveys are still

required to confirm its current status. The species was

reportedly “well known to everyone in Nadrau” in

1979 and there are a few records in the Nadrau area

until 1993. The IBA is nationally important for the

numbers of Pacific Black Duck on Monasavu

reservoir, where a maximum of 120 have been seen,

and Peregrine Falcons probably breed.

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Other biodiversity

The Rairaimatuku area is the only known site for the

endemic Montane Tree Skink although this species

is likely to occur elsewhere in montane Viti Levu.

Other endemic species include Fijian Tree Frog (NT)

and Green Tree Skink, but the plants and other

biodiversity are poorly known.

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Conservation

The Rairaimatuku area is threatened by logging. New

logging tracks were being opened during project

fieldwork (2002–04), degrading the forest and opening

access to invasive alien species, such as mongoose and

Black Rats. Whilst there is no logging in the immediate

water catchments of the various hydro-electricity

dams, which are protected by the FEA, this logging is

likely to have an impact on the water level and quality

in the dams through local climate change and run-off.

Forest is being lost at a much slower rate through

clearance for agricultural land, especially close to the

roads. The FEA office close to the Monasavu Dam

could be used as a base for education, research and

conservation. The impacts of invasive alien species are

poorly known but predation by mongoose probably

caused the historical extirpation of Collated Petrel and

predation by rats may have caused the recent or

imminent extinction of the Red-throated Lorikeet.

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References

B

IRD


L

IFE


 I

NTERNATIONAL

 Fiji Programme IBA project field

reports Nos 2, 33 and 42.

C

LUNIE


, F. (1979) Rough notes on the birds of Nadrau, Central

Viti Levu. Heritage [Newsletter of the Fiji Museum, Suva].

H

OLYOAK


, D. T. (1979) Notes on the birds of Viti Levu and

Taveuni, Fiji. Emu 79: 7–18.

S

WINNERTON



, K. 

AND


 M

ALJKOVIC


, A. (2002) The Red-throated

Lorikeet  Charmosyna amabilis in the Fiji Islands. Suva:

National Trust for Fiji and World Parrot Trust.

Unpublished report.

W

ATLING


, D. in litt. 2005

Important Bird Areas in Fiji – Site accounts

Golden Dove 

Chrysoenas luteovirens.

(

PHOTO


: P

AUL


 N

OAKES


)

Rairaimatuku Plateau.

(

PHOTO


: W

ILDLIFE


 C

ONSERVATION

 S

OCIETY


S

OUTH


 P

ACIFIC


 P

ROGRAM


)

36

FJ09 SOVI BASIN

Other names

 Sovi Basin Conservation Area; includes Korobasabasaga



Coordinates

 17°55’S, 178°12’E (south-east Viti Levu)  



Area

 407 km


2

  

Altitude

 80–1,185 m

Status

 Proposed conservation area; Site of National Significance.



IBA criteria

 A1 (globally threatened birds); A2 (restricted-range birds)

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Summary



Sovi Basin is the largest (proposed) protected area in

Fiji. It is unique in the Pacific islands in being a large

uninhabited basin with a pristine watershed of

lowland rainforest. It supports populations of most

of Viti Levu’s birds including Long-legged Warbler

(EN) and relatively large numbers of Pink-billed

Parrotfinches (VU).

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Site description



Sovi Basin is a large basin or amphitheatre of low

rolling hills ringed by steep volcanic peaks rising to

1,185 m. The hills in the western third of the basin

are mostly between 300 m and 600 m, otherwise

between 80 m and 300 m and drain through a narrow

gorge to the east. The basin is composed of plutonic

granite surrounded by andesite volcanics while the

basin soils are infertile red-yellow podzols. Rainfall

has been estimated at over 2,800 mm in the wet season

(November–April) and 1,200—1,600 mm in the dry

season, and lowland temperatures average 25°C. The

outer boundaries of the IBA follow the edge of the

contiguous dense forest, which includes the outer

slopes of the basin. The next IBA, the Viti Levu

Southern Highlands, is separated by the cultivated

Waimanu valley, and the Rairaimatuku Highlands

IBA is across patchy agriculture and degraded forest

remnants to the north. The basin has 11 different

lowland forest types, 45% of the wet forest types in

Fiji. These are all old-growth forests except for small

areas of previously cleared land along the main rivers.

The canopy in the basin is about 20–25 m high with

emergents up to 30 m, but is only 7–20 m high on the

steep high-altitude slopes. Sovi Basin is under

traditional ownership of 13 mataqali, belonging to

the three Tikina; Waimaro (97%), Nadaravakawalu

and Namosi. As well as these Native Lands, there

are eight small Crown Lands (totalling about 1,306

ha) and two Freehold Lands (80 ha). The basin was

inhabited a few generations ago but abandoned

because of poor soils and accessibility into the basin.

Sovi is only 35 km from the capital, Suva.

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Birds

A1 Globally threatened species



Long-legged Warbler (EN) – three sightings (29–

31 March 2005)





Friendly Ground-dove (VU) – uncommon

Important Bird Areas in Fiji – Site accounts

Viti Levu

Tu b a r u a

N a q a r a w a i

N a r a i y a w a

D e l a i l a s a k a u

N a d a k u n i



F J 09

0

2



4

km


37

By 2005, all the land-owners had signed up to

cancelling the logging concession and were

negotiating a compensatory conservation trust fund,

largely from the Global Conservation Fund. This

project has been lead by Conservation International

in collaboration with other institutions, notably the

National Trust of Fiji. Assuming the success of these

negotiations, the forests of Sovi look set to be

conserved as the largest protected area in Fiji. The

trust fund will resource some conservation actions,

the most important being an assessment of the impact

of invasive alien species. Sovi has fewer invasive alien

species than most sites because it is a large block of

forest without roads but it has most of the harmful

species on Viti Levu, notably mongoose and Black

Rat. Sovi would be an ideal place to conduct research

on the impact of these species and to undertake trial

actions to control them.

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References



B

IRD


L

IFE


 I

NTERNATIONAL

 Fiji Programme IBA project field

reports Nos 6, 7, 10, 14 and 32.

C

ABANIUK


, S., L

EES


, A. 

AND


 W

RIGHT


, S. (1995) A Future for

the Sovi Basin, Waimaro – Integrating Conservation and

Development. Final Report. Suva: Native Lands Trust

Board.


USP (2003) PABITRA Survey Report – Sovi Basin May

2003. Suva: University of the South Pacific. Unpublished

report.

USP (2004) PABITRA Survey Report – Sovi Basin October



2004. Suva: University of the South Pacific. Unpublished

report.




Black-faced Shrikebill (VU) – uncommon



Pink-billed Parrotfinch (VU) – generally rare but

locally uncommon





Masked Shining Parrot (NT) – fairly common

A2 Restricted-range species



24 species (out of 25 on Viti Levu), including all

three endemic to Viti Levu. See Appendix 2.

As the largest (proposed) protected area in Fiji, it

supports the largest protected populations of many

of Fiji’s restricted-range species. Further survey work

is necessary to clarify the status of the Long-legged

Warbler and of the ‘missing’ species, Red-throated

Lorikeet. The nationally threatened Peregrine Falcon

is often reported and is likely to breed.

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Other biodiversity

The endemic Fijian Burrowing Snake (VU) is known

historically from Sovi and several other endemic

reptiles occur including Green Tree Skink and Fijian

Copper-headed Skink. The Fijian Tree Frog (NT)

also occurs. Recent PABITRA surveys suggest that

the basin supports about 680 species of vascular

plants, one third of Fiji’s total. This includes large

numbers of Schefflera euthytrica (DD) in a very rare

lowland rainforest formation on plains around creeks

dominated by Verbenaceae trees.

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Conservation

Sovi Basin has been the subject of ongoing action to

secure agreement for conservation instead of logging.

Important Bird Areas in Fiji – Site accounts

Typical village, Sovi Basin. (

PHOTO

: G


UY

 D

UTSON



/B

IRD


L

IFE


)

38

FJ10 VITI LEVU SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS

Other names

 Namosi; Waimanu; Savura



Coordinates

 18°5’S, 178°17’E (south-east Viti Levu)  



Area

 670 km


2

  

Altitude

 427–915 m

Status

 Savura (448 ha) and Vago (25 ha) Forest Reserves are designated as water catchment reserves. The Garrick

Memorial Reserve (429 ha) is owned by the National Trust of Fiji. The upper Navua gorge is a proposed Ramsar

site. The rest of the IBA is unprotected but includes several Sites of National Significance.



IBA criteria

 A1 (globally threatened birds); A2 (restricted-range birds)

Important Bird Areas in Fiji – Site accounts

Namosi, Viti Levu Southern Highlands. (

PHOTO

: G


UY

 D

UTSON



/B

IRD


L

IFE


)

Viti Levu

S U VA

W

aimanu river



N a b u k e l e v u

N a s o q o

N a k a v i k a

N a m o s i

C o l o - i - S u v a

F J 10

0

3



6

km

N a v u a



39

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Summary



The Viti Levu Southern Highlands supports all of Viti

Levu’s threatened and endemic birds including Long-

legged Warbler (EN) and good numbers of Pink-

billed Parrotfinches (VU). Savura Creek is a protected

water catchment area, and the IBA’s location

adjacent to Suva offers great education and awareness

opportunities.

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Site description



The IBA is mostly lowland rainforest along a chain

of hills and low mountains, rising to the mountains

of Makuluva (615 m) and Nakorolo (860 m) in

Namosi, and Nakobalevu (464 m) and Korobaba

(422 m) in the east. A botanical transact up Mt

Korobaba recorded a transition from multi-layered

forest with emergents up to 35 m and a rich

development of epiphytes and climbers, to a 4–14 m

tall broken-canopied scrub, poor in epiphytes and

climbers. This and other isolated Fijian mountains

often have stunted vegetation because of the

shallowness of the soil, exposure to strong winds and

the Massenerhebung effect of lower altitudinal zones

on smaller mountains. A study of the Savura Forest

Reserve recorded 560 indigenous vascular plant

species, of which 52% are endemic to Fiji. The IBA is

bordered to the west by the logged forests of Serua,

to the south by the coastal agricultural belt and to

the north by the agriculture along the Waimanu river

valley. To the east, the IBA is bordered by settlements

on the edge of Suva and the mahogany plantations

of the Colo-i-Suva Forest Park. The IBA is likely to

benefit from movement of birds to and from the

degraded Serua forests and the Sovi Basin IBA to

the north. Much of the IBA is unlogged because of

steep slopes but logging roads are scattered across

the area, especially at lower altitudes. A few small

areas have been planted with mahogany. The land

tenure is mostly Native Lands, with 18 small Freehold

Lands (totalling about 2,031 ha) and five Crown

Lands (1,177 ha).

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Birds



A1 Globally threatened species



Long-legged Warbler (EN) – one heard three times

at Mt Korobaba but probably more widespread





Friendly Ground-dove (VU) – uncommon or rare,

often absent





Black-faced Shrikebill (VU) – uncommon

throughout





Pink-billed Parrotfinch (VU) – generally uncommon

but locally fairly common





Masked Shining Parrot (NT) – generally common

A2 Restricted-range species



24 species (out of 25 on Viti Levu), including all

three endemic to Viti Levu. See Appendix 2.

Forest along a section of the main Namosi road has

the highest known population density of Pink-billed

Parrotfinches: 11 records in 50 ‘observer-hours’ in

December 2002. The IBA contains historical nest sites

for the nationally threatened Peregrine Falcon.

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Other biodiversity

Namosi is the best known site for the endemic Fijian

Burrowing Snake (VU). A skink similar to the

Turquoise Tree Skink, hitherto known only from

Vanua Levu, has been recorded here.

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Conservation

The IBA is threatened by logging and, in places, by

mining. A large open-cast mine has been proposed in

Namosi where the bedrock contains copper and gold

ore in quantities which would make such a mine

commercially viable if prices rise. Small-scale logging

occurs in scattered places across the IBA. Much of

the Garrick Memorial Reserve was illegally logged

in the 1980s. The biggest problem with selective

logging is creating access to invasive alien species,

such as mongoose and Black Rats. Some natural

forest has been clear-felled and planted with

mahogany but this practice has been discontinued in

recent years. Agriculture is expanding up the foothills

in many areas. The Savura and Vago Forest Reserves

act as a water catchment for Suva and have been

protected from logging since 1963. One new

conservation area has been proposed: the forest 200

m each side of the upper Navua river from

Nabukelevu to Wainadiro is leased by Rivers Fiji and

is awaiting designation as Fiji’s first Ramsar site.

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References

B

IRD


L

IFE


 I

NTERNATIONAL

 Fiji Programme IBA project field

reports Nos 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 15, 16 and 21.

K

EPPEL


, G. (2005) Botanical diversity at Savura, a lowland rain

forest site along the PABITRA Gateway Transect, Viti

Levu, Fiji. Pacific Science 59: 175–191.

K

IRKPATRICK



, J. B. 

AND


 H

ASSALL


, D. C. (1985) The vegetation

and flora along an altitudinal transect through tropical

forest at Mount Korobaba, Fiji. New Zealand Journal of

Botany 23: 33–46.

W

ATLING



 D. in litt. 2005

W

ATLING



, R., V

ODONIVALU

, S., B

ALAWA


, J., S

INGH


, B. 

AND


R

ODDA


, P. (1989) A Management Plan for the Garrick

Memorial Reserve, Fiji. Suva: Environmental Consultants

(Fiji) Ltd.

Important Bird Areas in Fiji – Site accounts

Fiji White-eye 

Zosterops explorator.

(

PHOTO



: P

AUL


 N

OAKES


)

40

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Summary



Gau is the only known breeding site of the Fiji Petrel

(CR). The exact nesting areas are unknown but

presumed to be in the forested hills and mountains

of the island interior. This same area also has the

largest known population of Collared Petrels (NT)

and a number of endemic forest species.

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Site description

The IBA covers the entire forested interior of the

island. Gau is the fifth largest island in Fiji with a



FJ11 GAU HIGHLANDS

Coordinates

 18°1’S, 179°19’E (east of Viti Levu)  Area 52 km

2

  Altitude 0–738 m



Status

 Unprotected. Site of National Significance. Alliance for Zero Extinction site.



IBA Criteria

 A1 (globally threatened birds); A2 (restricted-range birds); A4ii (congregatory seabirds)

population of just 3,000 people subsisting on fishing

and farming. The agricultural coastal fringe, with

gardens extending up to 300 m, is excluded from the

IBA. The IBA is lowland rainforest with stunted

forest on ridge-tops and includes some of the world’s

lowest-altitude montane cloud forest on the high

exposed slopes. The only maintained track in the

hinterland provides access to a Telecom repeater

tower situated just below Mt Delaco, the island’s

highest peak at 738 m.

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Birds

A1 Globally threatened species



Fiji Petrel (CR) – the only known breeding site

for this species



[Tahiti Petrel (NT) – has also been found ashore

and is likely to breed]



Collared Petrel (NT) – the only known breeding

site (but several other sites are suspected)

A2 Restricted-range species

13 species (out of 36 in Fiji). See Appendix 2.

A4ii Congregatory seabird species



Fiji Petrel – meets the threshold of >1 pair



Collared Petrel – meets the threshold of >10 pairs

Important Bird Areas in Fiji – Site accounts

Fiji Petrel 

Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi.

(

PHOTO


: D

ICK


 W

ATLING


)

F J 11

M t   D e l a c o

Q a r a n i

N a v u k a i l a g i

S a w a i e k e

Somosomo


N a w a i k a m a

L e v u k a i g a u

0

2

4



km

41

nearby Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The hill forests

are not under extensive threat of clearance or

degradation but subsistence gardens are slowly

encroaching uphill and there are reports of villagers

finding newly dug burrows within their gardens.

These burrows are likely to be made by Wedge-tailed

Shearwaters, not Fiji Petrels. Shifting cultivation

leaves grassland fallows which are at risk from

uncontrolled fire which can damage adjacent forest.

Agricultural activities are slowly increasing as the

population increases, and as some restrictions are

placed on harvesting of marine resources. There may

be potential for a low level of specialised ecotourism

to cater for interested ornithologists as and when the

Fiji Petrel nesting grounds have been located.

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References

B

IRD


L

IFE


 I

NTERNATIONAL

 Fiji Programme IBA project field

reports Nos 37 and 38.

P

LANT


, A. R., Q

ALO


, K. M., V

ERERUSA


, K. 

AND


 W

ATLING


, D.

(1989) A Tahiti Petrel (Pseudobulweria rostrata) from Gau

Island, Fiji. Notornis 36:149–150.

P

RIDDEL



, D., C

ARLILE


, N.

 

AND



 W

ATLING


, D. (2003)

 

Recovery


Plan for the Critically Endangered Fiji Petrel

Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi. Suva: Environmental

Consultants (Fiji) Ltd. Unpublished report.

T

UIWAWA


, M. in litt. 2005

W

ATLING



, D. 

AND


  L

EWANAVANUA

, R. F. (1985) A note to

record the continuing survival of the Fiji (MacGillivray’s)

Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayiIbis 127: 230–233.

There are only a handful of records of Fiji Petrels in

the world, all of single birds attracted to lights on

Gau. Tens or hundreds of pairs of Collared Petrel

constitute the only known breeding site of this species

but several other islands are likely to support this

poorly known species. Two subspecies, Island Thrush

T. p. hades and Golden Whistler P. p. vitiensis, are

endemic to Gau.

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Other biodiversity

Gau is free of mongoose and supports good numbers

of amphibians and reptiles including the Fijian

Ground Frog (EN) and Banded Iguana (EN).

Preliminary studies suggest that it has high numbers

of endemic plants.

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Conservation



Fiji Petrel conservation is likely to be dependent on

controlling various invasive alien predators. Small

petrels across the world are susceptible to predation

at the nest by feral/introduced cats, pigs and rats, all

of which are present throughout the forest on Gau.

There appear to be no cliffs or inaccessible

mountainous ledges on Gau where petrels could nest

out of the reach of these predators. Research is

urgently needed to locate the petrel nesting grounds,

to monitor breeding success and the impact of these

predators. Fortunately, Gau lacks mongoose but

conservation action needs to include preventative

measures to ensure that they do not colonise from

Important Bird Areas in Fiji – Site accounts

Forest, Gau. (

PHOTO


: M

OALA


 T

OKOTA


A

/WCS)



42

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Summary



Nabukelevu is the highest mountain on Kadavu and

the largest area of montane forest in west Kadavu. It

holds the four bird species endemic to Kadavu, and

may still support nesting colonies of threatened

seabirds. The lower slopes have been largely cleared

for agriculture but the top of the mountain remains

untouched because of its rugged terrain and high

rainfall.

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Site description

Nabukelevu is a spectacular isolated mountain rising

steeply from the sea in west Kadavu. Its name is said

to mean ‘giant yam mound’, an accurate description

of this steep-sided massif. It is an andesitic volcanic

lava dome which last erupted in the Holocene. Many

of the lower slopes have been cleared for agriculture

and the IBA boundary starts at the lower boundary

of the forest on the west, south and east. To the north,

the IBA extends down to the sea as this very steep

slope supports little human activity and may be

important for nesting seabirds. Nabukelevu is the

only area in west Kadavu that retains extensive

old-growth forest but scattered, mostly degraded,

forest extends east to connect it to the old-growth

forests close to Vunisea. The north slope of

Nabukelevu and some upper reaches of the west and

south slopes are dominated by scrubby forest on

boulder-strewn steep slopes, which is probably climax

vegetation for these slopes which are susceptible to

land-slides. The mid-altitudes on the west, south and

east slopes have old-growth lowland rainforest. This

is of higher stature on flatter land but much of the

area is steep and any flatter areas at lower altitude

have been cleared for agriculture. The plateau and

the steep upper slopes are low-stature montane forest,

which show no sign of human activity except for a

rarely used trail to a summit clearing. The mountain

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