Polynesia-micronesia biodiversity hotspot final draft for submission to the cepf donor council



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ECOSYSTEM PROFILE 
 
 
POLYNESIA-MICRONESIA  
BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
FINAL DRAFT FOR SUBMISSION TO THE CEPF DONOR COUNCIL
 
MARCH 
8,
 
2007
 

 
ii
 
 
CONTENTS 
 
Executive Summary ............................................................................................................ iii 
 
Introduction......................................................................................................................... 1 
Background ......................................................................................................................... 2 
Biological Importance of the Hotspot................................................................................. 7 
Conservation Outcomes .................................................................................................... 19 
Socioeconomic Features ................................................................................................... 27 
Synopsis of Threats and Constraints................................................................................. 36 
Synopsis of Current Investments ...................................................................................... 45 
CEPF Niche for Investment .............................................................................................. 52 
CEPF Program Focus and Investment Strategy................................................................ 55 
Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 70 
Abbreviations Used in the Text ........................................................................................ 71 
References......................................................................................................................... 73 
Appendices........................................................................................................................ 80 
 

 
iii
 
 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is designed to safeguard the world's 
biodiversity hotspots. CEPF is a joint initiative of Conservation International, the Global 
Environment Facility, the government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur 
Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental purpose is to ensure that civil society, 
such as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), community groups, and private sector 
partners, is engaged in efforts to conserve biodiversity in the hotspots. An additional 
purpose is to ensure that those efforts complement existing strategies and frameworks 
established by national governments. 
 
The purpose of the ecosystem profile is to provide an overview of biodiversity values, 
conservation targets or “outcomes” and causes of biodiversity loss coupled with an 
assessment of existing and planned conservation activities in the Polynesia-Micronesia 
Hotspot. This information is then used to identify the niche where CEPF investment can 
provide the greatest incremental value for conservation. The ecosystem profile 
recommends broad strategic funding directions that can be implemented by civil society 
to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in the hotspot. Applicants propose 
specific projects consistent with these broad directions and criteria. The ecosystem profile 
does not define the specific activities that prospective implementers may propose in the 
region, but outlines the strategy that will guide those activities.  
 
The Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot includes all the islands of Micronesia, tropical 
Polynesia, and Fiji. Included in this enormous expanse of ocean are more than 4,500 
islands, representing 11 countries, eight territories and one U.S. state (Hawaii). Despite 
its large marine coverage, 2.6 times larger than the continental United States, it is one of 
the smallest hotspots in terms of terrestrial land area, covering only 47,239 square 
kilometers or about the size of Switzerland. The total population of the hotspot is 
approximately 3,120,000 but 65 percent of the population is found in Hawaii and Fiji.  
 
Not all countries and territories in the hotspot are eligible for CEPF funds; only countries 
that are World Bank members and signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity 
are eligible. Thus six countries and territories in the hotspot, including Nauru; the U.S. 
state of Hawaii; the U.S. territories of American Samoa and Guam; the Commonwealth 
of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Tuvalu are ineligible. While this ecosystem profile 
includes data and analysis from all 20 countries and territories in the hotspot, 
conservation outcomes and strategic directions only refer to the 14 eligible countries and 
territories. However, it is hoped that this profile will be used to leverage funds to 
conserve threatened species and sites in countries and territories not eligible for CEPF 
investment. 
 
The geographic complexity and isolated nature of Pacific islands have led to the 
development of extremely high levels of endemism in this hotspot. The various 
mechanisms of island biogeography and evolution have been able to work particularly 
clearly in the Pacific free of continental influences. However, the extreme vulnerability of 
island ecosystems and species to impacts such as habitat destruction and invasive species 
has resulted in the flora and fauna of this hotspot being amongst the most endangered in 

 
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the world. In fact, species extinction rates in this hotspot approach the highest in the 
world, especially for birds and land snails.  
 
Plant, bird, and invertebrate diversity in the hotspot are particularly high, but diversity of 
non-volant mammals, reptiles and amphibians is low. Overall the hotspot is home to 
approximately 5,330 native vascular plant species, of which 3,074 (57 percent) are 
endemic, 242 breeding native bird species of which approximately 164 (68 percent) are 
endemic, 61 native terrestrial reptiles, of which 30 (49 percent) are endemic, 15 native 
mammals, all bats, 11 (73 percent) of which are endemic, and three native amphibians, all 
endemic. Although there are no true native freshwater fish, at least 96 marine species are 
found as adults in freshwater and 20 species are endemic. Knowledge of invertebrate 
diversity is very patchy, but for many groups that have been studied, it is high. Land snail 
diversity is particularly high with over 750 species in Hawaii alone and perhaps 4,000 
species in the insular tropical Pacific.  
 
The major threats to Pacific biodiversity are human induced and include invasive species, 
habitat alteration and loss, destructive harvest techniques, and over-exploitation of natural 
resources. An analysis of data on the globally threatened species in the hotspot indicates 
that habitat loss and invasive species are the two most serious threats. The impact of 
extreme natural events such as cyclones, drought, and fire may also be significant at 
times. The future impact of climate change and sea level rise is uncertain at this stage but 
could be significant, especially on the low lying islands and atolls which could disappear 
completely. While many of the threats to native Pacific biodiversity are similar to those 
in other tropical regions of the world, Pacific island biotas are particularly vulnerable 
because the biota evolved in the absence of mammalian predators, grazing herbivores
and many of the diseases that evolved on larger land masses. Furthermore, the small size 
and isolated nature of Pacific islands results in increased vulnerability to disturbances that 
may be relatively minor on a larger land mass.  
 
There are a number of constraints to mounting an effective response to environmental 
threats in most countries in the hotspot. Except in the larger, more developed states and 
territories, the major constraints include a paucity of technical infrastructure and 
expertise, a lack of current information on the state of natural resources and biodiversity, 
a poor understanding of environmental issues among the general population, and poor 
integration of environmental issues in national development planning. An analysis of 
current investments and strategies in the hotspot indicates that significant implementation 
gaps remain in a number of areas. Terrestrial conservation efforts in general and species 
and site conservation efforts in particular are chronically under-funded. The taxonomic 
groups that have been least well supported include the flying foxes, land snails, and 
plants. Furthermore, while a number of national and regional conservation strategies have 
been developed, they need significant resources for implementation. 
 
This ecosystem profile includes a commitment and emphasis on using conservation 
outcomes—targets against which the success of investments can be measured—as the 
scientific underpinning for determining CEPF’s geographic and thematic focus for 
investment. Conservation outcomes can be defined at three scales – species, site, and 

 
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landscape, reflecting a simplification of a complex hierarchical continuum of ecological 
scales. The three scales interlock geographically through the presence of species in sites 
and of sites in landscapes. They are also logically connected. If species are to be 
conserved, the sites on which they live must be protected and the landscapes or seascapes 
must continue to sustain the ecological services on which the sites and the species 
depend. Given threats to biodiversity at each of the three levels, quantifiable targets for 
conservation can be set in terms of extinctions avoided, sites protected and, where 
appropriate, biodiversity conservation corridors created or preserved. This can only be 
done when accurate and comprehensive data are available on the distribution of 
threatened species across sites. However, in the context of the archipelagic Polynesia-
Micronesia Hotspot, only species and site outcomes have been defined since landscape-
scale outcomes are not considered appropriate. 
 
Species outcomes in the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot include all those species that are 
globally threatened according to the 2003 IUCN Red List, the most recent Red List at the 
time the outcomes were defined in the profiling process. These comprise 476 globally 
threatened terrestrial species in all the countries and territories of the hotspot. However, 
almost half (232 out of 476) of the threatened species in the hotspot are in countries and 
territories that are ineligible for CEPF funding. The vast majority of the species in 
ineligible countries (214 species and almost half of all threatened species in the hotspot) 
are in Hawaii alone. The remaining 244 species in CEPF eligible countries define the 
universe of species outcomes for this hotspot. Species outcomes have been prioritized 
into six classes based on three major criteria: Red List Category; Taxonomic 
Distinctiveness (a measure of the uniqueness of a species); and need for species-focused 
action (i.e. a measure of whether a species needs special attention, such as the control of 
invasive species or harvesting). 
 
Based on this objective analysis, 67 species belonging to priority classes one and two 
were selected for CEPF investment. However, it should be noted that given limitations in 
data availability and quality, the prioritization is an initial attempt and may change as 
more accurate data become available. 
 
Site outcomes were determined by identifying the sites in CEPF eligible countries that 
contain populations of at least one globally threatened species. Key data sources for this 
analysis included published scientific articles, the IUCN-World Conservation Union 
regional ecosystem survey, a number of Geographical Information Systems data layers, 
data from the World Database on Protected Areas, National Biodiversity Strategy and 
Action Plan reports, ecological survey data, subregional workshops and communications 
with many scientists and stakeholders. Data on restricted-range species and globally 
significant congregations were not available for this analysis.  
 
In total, 161 sites were identified for the hotspot, each containing at least one globally 
threatened species. The 161 sites are too many for one fund to handle alone. 
Consequently, sites were prioritized  based on irreplaceability (whether the site contains 
taxa found in no other site); and vulnerability. Due to a lack of comprehensive threat data 

 
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for each site, the threat status of a species found within the site was used as a proxy for 
vulnerability. A total of 60 sites were identified for CEPF support. 
 
A niche for CEPF investment has been developed based on an analysis of three major 
themes: species and site outcomes; major threats to endangered species; and current 
environmental investments together with national and regional conservation strategies. 
Major findings of this analysis include the following: our knowledge of the hotspot's 
biodiversity is patchy, incomplete and poorly managed; terrestrial species and site 
conservation is currently weakly supported; conventional forms of protected area 
management have been largely ineffective; and invasive species are the major threat to 
native biotas, but tackling invasive species is relatively poorly supported. Finally, while 
there are many existing regional and national conservation strategies, these strategies 
need much stronger support for implementation. 
 
The niche of CEPF in the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot will be to catalyze action by 
civil society to counteract threats to biodiversity, especially from invasive species, in key 
biodiversity areas in the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot. The geographic focus for CEPF 
intervention in the hotspot will be on CEPF eligible countries only. The three primary 
strategic directions are: 

 
prevent, control and eradicate invasive species in key biodiversity areas;  

 
strengthen the conservation status and management of 60 key biodiversity areas; 
and 

 
Build awareness and participation of local leaders and community members in 
the implementation of protection and recovery plans for threatened species. 
 
A fourth strategic direction is to provide strategic leadership and effective coordination of 
CEPF investment through a regional implementation team and therefore complements the 
three primary strategic directions.A number of necessary interventions or investment 
priorities to achieve each strategic direction are outlined in the full ecosystem profile. 
 
In conclusion, the species and ecosystems of the hotspot are among the most highly 
threatened in the world and yet terrestrial conservation activities are severely under 
funded and our biological knowledge of the hotspot is very incomplete and poorly 
managed. There are significant opportunities for CEPF to fund actions that empower the 
stewards of the biodiversity of the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot - the island 
communities and institutions - to have better knowledge, tools, and capacities to conserve 
biodiversity more effectively, especially those species and sites that are globally 
threatened. Since Pacific communities are still highly dependent on biological resources 
for survival, the achievement of biodiversity conservation outcomes is critical not only 
for the maintenance of essential ecosystem function, but is also essential for sustaining 
human livelihoods. 

 
vii
 
 
 
Prepared by: 
 
Conservation International-Melanesia Center for Biodiversity Conservation 
 
In collaboration with: 
 
South Pacific Regional Environment Program 
 
With the technical support of: 
 
The Bishop Museum- Honolulu 
Conservation International-Center for Applied Biodiversity Science 
The Nature Conservancy – Micronesia Program 
Societé d’Ornithologie de la Polynésie 
Wildlife Conservation Society – Pacific Islands
 
 
And of the Ecosystem Profile Preparation Team: 
 
James Atherton 
Joanna Axford 
Nigel Dowdeswell 
Liz Farley 
Roger James 
Penny Langhammer 
François Martel 
Harley Manner 
David Olson 
Samuelu Sesega 
 
Assisted by the following experts and contributors: 
 
FIJI ISLANDS 
Aaron Jenkins  
 
 
Alex Patrick  
 
 
Aliki Turagakula  
 
Alivereti Bogiva  
 
  
Alumita Savabula  
 
 
Craig Morley  
 
Dale Withington 
Dick Watling  
Etika Rupeni  
 
 
Gunnar Keppel  
 
 
Guy Dutson 
Jo Ceinaturaga  
 
 
Jone Niukula  
 
 
Kesaia Tabunakawai  
 
Linda Farley  
 
 
Manoa Malani  
 
 
Marika Tuiwawa 
Philip Felstead  
 
 
Randy Thaman 
Roger James 
 
 
Sairusi Bulai  
 
  
 
Timoci Gaunavinaka  
 
Vilikesa Masibalavu  
 
 
FRENCH POLYNESIA 
Claude Carlson  
Claude Serrat  
Eli Poroi 
Francis Murphy 
Georges Sanford  
Hinano Murphy 
Isabelle Vahirua-Lechat 
Jacques Iltis 
Jean-François Butaud  
Jean-Yves Meyer  
Maxime Chan 
Mehdi Adjeroud 
Neil Davies 
Olivier Babin  
Paula Meyer  
Philippe Raust  
Philippe Siu  
Tea Frogier  
Vernance Sanford 
Willy Tetuanui 
Yves Doudoute 
 
HAWAII & USA 
Allen Allison 
Ana Rodrigues 
Art Whistler 
Audrey Newman 
Dieter Mueller-Dombois 
Jim Space 
John Pilgrim 
Lucius Eldredge 
Mark Merlin 
Robert Cowie 
Robert Waller 
Tom Brooks 
 
MICRONESIA 
Anne Brook 
Bill Raynor 
Bob Beck 
Brian Vander Velde 
David Hinchley 

 
ii
 
 
Deborah Barker 
Harley Manner 
Herman Francisco 
Ishmael Lebehn 
Joseph Acfalle 
Lois Engelberger 
Lucille Apis-Overhoff 
Nancy Vander Velde 
Okean Ehmes 
Roseo Marquez 
Willy Kostka 
 
WESTERN POLYNESIA 
Asipeli Palaki 
Bronwyn Sesega 
Cedric Schuster 
Easter Galuvao 
Emily Waterman 
Faumuina Saililimalo Pati Liu 
Gerald MacCormack 
Hans Decker Thulstrup 
Joshua Seamon 
Liz Dovey 
Mary Power 
Matt McIntyre 
Myriam Philip 
Seuili Vainuupo 
Semese Alefaio 
Tom Twining Ward 
Toni Tipamaa 
Walter Vermuelen 
 
OTHER LOCATIONS 
Elspeth Wingham 
Greg Sherley 
Michael Brown 
Patricia Vargas Casanova 
Phillipe Keith 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Document compiled by James Atherton 

 
1
 
 
INTRODUCTION 
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is designed to safeguard the world's 
threatened biodiversity hotspots in developing countries. It is a joint initiative of 
Conservation International (CI), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the government 
of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. 
Conservation International administers the global program through a CEPF Secretariat.  
 
CEPF supports projects in biodiversity hotspots, the biologically richest and most 
endangered areas on Earth. Conservation International administers the global program 
through a CEPF Secretariat.A fundamental purpose of CEPF is to ensure that civil society 
is engaged in efforts to conserve biodiversity in the hotspots. An additional purpose is to 
ensure that those efforts complement existing strategies and frameworks established by 
local, regional, and national governments. 
 
CEPF promotes working alliances among community groups, nongovernmental 
organizations (NGOs), government, academic institutions, and the private sector, 
combining unique capacities and eliminating duplication of efforts for a comprehensive 
approach to conservation. CEPF is unique among funding mechanisms in that it focuses 
on biological areas rather than political boundaries and examines conservation threats on 
a corridor-wide basis to identify and support a regional, rather than a national, approach 
to achieving conservation outcomes. Corridors are determined through a process of 
identifying important species, site and corridor-level conservation outcomes for the 
hotspot. CEPF targets transboundary cooperation when areas rich in biological value 
straddle national borders, or in areas where a regional approach will be more effective 
than a national approach. CEPF provides civil society with an agile and flexible funding 
mechanism complementing funding currently available to government agencies. 
 
The Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot, which is one of the smallest hotspots in terms of land 
area, covering only 47,239 km², stretches from the Mariana and Palau archipelagos in the 
west to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the east, and from the Hawaiian Islands in the north to 
the Cook Islands, Tonga, and Niue in the south.  
 
It qualifies as a global hotspot by virtue of its high endemicity and extremely high degree 
of threat. The hotspot was first identified as a global biodiversity hotspot in an analysis of 
biodiversity hotspots by CI conducted between 1996 and 1998 (CI 1999). The thousands 
of small, isolated islands that make up the hotspot are some of the most vulnerable in the 
world and Oceania has one of the highest proportions of Endangered species per unit land 
area of any region (Dahl 1986) and the largest number of documented species extinctions 
on the planet since 1600 (Given 1992).  
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