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



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SYNOPSIS OF THREATS AND CONSTRAINTS 
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 (IUCN Red List 
2003). 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 (SPREP 1992, Allison and Eldredge 1999). 
 
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 (Allison and Eldredge 1999). 
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 (SPREP 
1992).  
 
Threats to Pacific biodiversity are on the increase. Population growth in most countries in 
the hotspot is in the range of 1-3 percent per annum (SPC 2003a) and there is increasing 
commercialization, monetization and globalization of Pacific economies. Coupled with 
these changes in socioeconomic systems has been an erosion of traditional knowledge 
and traditional systems of resource management.  
 
The outcome of the combination of extreme fragility and increasing threat is that the 
biological diversity in the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot is one of the most highly 
threatened in the world. Today, only 10,024 square kilometres, or 21 percent of the 
region’s original vegetation, remain in more or less pristine condition throughout the 
hotspot (Allison and Eldredge 1999). Rates of deforestation range between 0 and 4 
percent per annum in some countries (FAO 2003). 
 
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 amongst the general population, and poor 
integration of environmental issues in national development planning. 
 

 
37
 
 
Main Threats 
 
Invasive species 
Invasive species (both native and non-native) are arguably the major threat to Pacific 
biota and native ecosystems. Approximately three quarters of the 476 globally threatened 
species in the hotspot are threatened by invasive species (IUCN 2003). Invasive species 
were highlighted as a major threat at all three subregional workshops held during profile 
preparation. This makes the Pacific islands quite unique in their conservation situation 
compared with other tropical regions (Olson and Farley 2003). The major challenge is not 
only to control populations of existing invasive species, but also to prevent new 
introductions. 
 
Ever since humans first colonized islands of the hotspot up to 3,000 years ago, introduced 
plants and animals have had a significant impact on native biota. The early Polynesians 
and Micronesian colonists deliberately introduced a number of plants and animals for 
food, medicines, building materials, and ornamentation. Some of these deliberate 
introductions, and other species that were introduced accidentally, became pests. 
Examples include pigs, dogs, and Pacific rats (Rattus exulans). However, following 
European colonization from the mid 19
th
 Century onward, hundreds more species were 
introduced, many accidentally. Now, in many countries in the hotspot, there are as many 
or more introduced plant species and higher vertebrates as native species and the region is 
now full of examples of alien species that have become serious pests.  
 
It is not known exactly how many invasive species there are on islands in the hotspot, but 
it certainly  runs into the hundreds. The Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk database (PIER 
2004) lists 297 plant species that are invasive in the hotspot region, with another 125 
potentially invasive plant species present in the Pacific (Space pers.comm. 2004). 
Approximately 82 land snails have been introduced to Pacific islands, many of which are 
invasive (Cowie 2001). The number of invasive species in other taxonomic groups is not 
known. The most serious invasive species vary from country to country in the hotspot but 
there are a few species that appear to be a problem on almost every island. Rats, 
especially the Pacific rat, and introduced arthropods such as ants, are particularly 
widespread (ISSG 2003). Other serious invasive species are not widespread but could 
cause devastation if allowed to spread further. In addition to the PIER database, another 
source of information on the distribution of invasive species in the hotspot is the Global 
Invasive Species Database (ISSG 2003). This database was provided to the ecosystem 
profile team to help inform CEPF strategy development. ISSG has commited to distribute 
the database on CD-ROM in the Pacific region to help increase public awareness about 
invasive species and to facilitate effective prevention and management activities. 
 
The classic example of the impact of an introduced predator, is the brown tree snake 
(Boiga irregularis). In the past 40 to 50 years, this predator from the Papua region has 
caused the extinction of nine of 11 native species of forest birds and the apparent 
extinction of three skink species and two species of gecko on Guam (Sherley and Lowe 
2000). The snake has now spread to Saipan and there are serious fears that if the snake 

 
38
 
 
were to spread throughout the Pacific it would cause similar devastation (Allison and 
Eldredge 1999). 
 
Fourteen alien vertebrates are considered "significant invasive species" in the South 
Pacific and Hawaii (Atkinson and Atkinson 2000). The most widespread are pigs, goats, 
cattle, cats, dogs, mice, and the three species of rat (ibid). The Pacific (Rattus exulans
and ship (or black) rats (R. rattus) are particularly serious pests and consume a wide 
range of prey including fruits, seeds, insects, snails, lizards and birds, including eggs and 
nestlings (Sherley and Lowe 2000). Pigs, goats, and cattle cause habitat disturbance by 
eating tree seedlings and thereby slowing forest regeneration and reducing native plant 
diversity (ibid). Both dogs and cats prey on seabirds and landbirds particularly surface 
nesting species, while cats also prey on skinks and geckos (Atkinson and Atkinson 2000). 
Mongooses are major predators on snakes, insects, frogs and on birds, especially ground 
dwelling species such as rails. Luckily they are only found on Hawaii and Fiji. Introduced 
birds, such as the Indian mynah bird, are a problem on some islands where they compete 
with native birds for food and nest sites and may introduce diseases.  
 
Arthropods are the most numerous invasive species on islands and ants probably pose the 
greatest arthropod threat to conservation in the Pacific (Nishida and Evenhuis 2000). The 
potentially most damaging ant invaders include the bigheaded ant Pheidole megacephala
the long legged or crazy ant Anoplolepis longipes, the Argentine ant Lineopthema humile
little  fire ant Wasmannia auropunctuta and others (ibid). Characteristics of ants that 
make them so destructive include the formation of large, non-competitive multi-queen 
colonies, the ability to hitchhike readily, highly aggressive behaviour and the limited 
number of effective control options. Lowland native vertebrates and invertebrates such as 
crabs, snails and aquatic and semi-aquatic invertebrates have all been decimated by 
introduced ants by predation, direct competition and by creating favourable conditions for 
other invasive biota (ibid).  
 
Introduced land snails have decimated native snail species on many islands in the hotspot. 
The high islands appear to have the highest snail diversity, and are therefore at greatest 
risk from introduced snail species. The carnivorous rosy wolf snail, Euglandina rosea 
was introduced to control another introduction, the giant African snail (Achatina fulica), 
but has unfortunately decimated native land snails, especially in Hawaii, French 
Polynesia, Guam and American Samoa. On Guam, the flatworm Platydemus manokwari 
was also introduced to control the Giant African snail and has also impacted native 
species. Neither of the two introduced biological control agents appear to be effective 
control of A. fulica populations. Other examples of introduced invasive molluscs include 
species from the terrestrial Subilinidae, Helicidae, and Helicarionadae families, and 
freshwater species such as apple snails and Lymnaeid snails (Cowie 2000). 
  
Hundreds of plants have been introduced to islands in the hotspot and more than 30 
invasive alien plant species are considered to have become serious threats to native 
habitats of Pacific islands (Meyer 2000). The impacts of invasive plants on native flora 
and vegetation include decreased dominance of native species, decreased overall species 
richness, fewer vertical tiers of plants, and a lower range of biodiversity overall (ibid). 

 
39
 
 
Many of the invasives are heliotropic and are more successful than native species in 
forest clearings from where they may spread into the forest. The spread of invasive plants 
has been hastened by habitat degradation on islands from cyclone damage or agricultural 
and logging activity. Some of the most aggressive weedy invaders include the following 
(ibid):  
 

 
trees and shrubs: African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata), lead tree (Leucaena 
leucocephala), guava species (Psidium cattleianum and P. guajava), velvet tree 
(Miconia calvescens), red bead tree (Adenanthera pavonina), Koster's curse 
(Clidemia hirta), Lantana camaraClerodendrum spp. and giant sensitive plant 
(Mimosa invisa); 

 
the climbing vines Merremia peltata, Mikania micrantha and Passiflora spp.; 

 
the grasses Panicum spp., Paspalum and Pennisetum spp.; and 

 
the creeping herb Wedelia trilobata and the aquatic plant Eichornia crassipes.  
 
Other potentially destructive alien invaders include introduced fishes, amphibians and 
crustaceans which can impact on native biodiversity by altering habitats, competing for 
food and living space, introducing pathogens, hybridisation with native species and 
socioeconomic and environmental impacts (Eldredge 2000). It is important to note the 
impact of pathogens and diseases on native flora and fauna. A good example is avian 
malaria that decimated bird populations in Hawaii after it was inadvertently introduced in 
exotic birds along with the mosquito vector that spreads it.  
 
Habitat alteration and loss 
Habitat alteration and loss are another major threat to native species and ecosystems and 
affect three quarters of threatened species in the hotspot (IUCN Red list 2003). Habitat 
alteration and loss relate mostly to the conversion of native ecosystems to non-native 
ecosystems for economic activities such as agriculture and logging and to a lesser extent 
due to infrastructural development such as roads and settlements. Habitat degradation 
contributes to the direct impoverishment of biodiversity as well as a number of subsidiary 
problems including facilitating the influx of invasive weeds and browsing animals, soil 
erosion, reduced water quality, and the sedimentation of lagoon areas. Such impacts can 
seriously affect the livelihoods of the rural majority. 
 
In most countries in the hotspot it is the coastal and lowland ecosystems that have been 
the most severely degraded because they are the closest to fast growing population 
centers that tend to be in the coastal zone. Intact altitudinal belts of forest on the larger 
volcanic islands are also being lost and this is impacting on species such as pigeons, 
doves and fruit bats that move seasonally or less predictably between lowland and 
montane forests in response to fruiting and flowering patterns. 
 
Fragmentation of natural ecosystems from logging roads and agricultural plantations is a 
serious threat to many island species which originally had small ranges to begin with, 
such as plants, land snails and many invertebrates. Furthermore, research in Fiji shows 
that invasive predators such as rats, cats and mongooses travel into remote forests along 
roads but that their impact diminishes greatly more than 6km from the nearest road 

 
40
 
 
(Olson pers.comm. 2003). Thus the larger, more remote intact blocks of forest may act as 
island refugia and are particularly important for the conservation of many native species. 
 
Up to date and accurate annual rates of deforestation are lacking for most countries in the 
hotspot but range from close to zero in Kiribati, Palau, and Tonga to over 2 percent per 
annum in Samoa and over 4 percent in FSM (FAO 2003). Most of the deforestation is 
related to agricultural activities such as swidden agriculture and commercial cash 
cropping of kava, taro, copra, and cocoa. Commercial logging is an issue on some of the 
larger volcanic islands such as Savaii in Samoa and some of the Fijian islands, but the 
rate of reforestation is inadequate in relation to the total area being logged and 
subsequently deforested. Furthermore, the limited reforestation that has occurred has 
tended to use exotic species that lack fruits eaten by native birds and bats, have limited 
ecological value, and in some cases are invasive.  
 
Over-exploitation of natural resources and destructive harvest techniques  
Overharvesting and the use of destructive harvesting techniques can have major impacts 
on native biodiversity and ecosystems. The over harvest of natural resources often goes 
hand in hand with the use of destructive harvesting techniques. Examples include the use 
of bulldozers to clear land and dredge sand or dynamite and poisons to catch fish.  
 
Hunting is a threat to some species on some islands such as coconut crabs (Birgus latro), 
fruit bats (mostly Pteropus spp.), pigeons (mostly Ducula and Ptilinopus spp.) and other 
large birds that are traditional food sources in many parts of the hotspot. Fruit bats in 
Samoa and Palau have been particularly susceptible to over-exploitation because of the 
export trade to Guam, where they are a highly desired culinary delicacy. Legal trade in 
fruit bats was terminated following a 1989 ban by CITES, except in Palau, which has 
now become the major supplier of fruit bats (Allison and Eldredge 1999). 
 
The overharvest of frugiverous and nectarivorous animal species such as pigeons and 
fruit bats can be a serious ecological problem because both are important pollinators 
and/or dispersers of seeds in native ecosystems and are thus critically important to the 
health of the forest (Whistler 2002). In Samoa for example it is estimated that up to 30 
percent of primary rain forest trees may depend on flying foxes for pollination and/or 
carrying their seeds through the forest (Faasao Savaii 1998). Forest regeneration is likely 
to be compromised if the populations of such species are reduced too low.  
 
The illegal trade in terrestrial wildlife species does not appear to be a major issue in the 
hotspot. However, there is some activity targeting species such as Kadavu shining parrot, 
crested iguanas and giant longhorn beetles in Fiji. Wildlife trade can increase very rapidly 
if species are targeted and professional operators become involved so vigilance is 
necessary. An issue of concern is that most countries in the hotspot are not signatories to 
CITES. 
 
Some plant species are also in serious decline due to harvesting at an unsustainable level. 
An example is Intsia bijuga a highly valued timber tree in many countries of the hotspot. 
This formerly widespread tree is threatened because the wood is highly valued for 

 
41
 
 
carving, such as kava bowls in Samoa and Fiji. In Samoa the tree (called ifilele) has been 
extirpated from many places and even in forest conservation areas may be being 
harvested at an unsustainable rate (Martel and Atherton 1997).  
 
Natural phenomena 
The impact of natural phenomena, such as cyclones, floods, drought and fire, on native 
biodiversity should not be ignored, despite the fact that, in most cases, little can be done 
about them. Such events are a major contributing factor to the accidental extirpation of 
isolated populations of many species throughout the hotspot. Cyclones in particular have 
had a devastating impact on faunal populations and the health of habitats and ecosystems 
throughout the Pacific. In Samoa for example, cyclones Ofa (1990) and Val (1991) 
defoliated up to 90 percent of all trees and may have contributed to a drastic population 
decline of some species such as the insectivorous sheath-tailed bat (Emballonura 
semicaudata) (Goldin 2002). 
 
The impacts of cyclones on native wildlife such as birds include the following (Faasao 
Savaii 1998): 
 

 
Mortality due to the cyclone itself; 

 
Starvation as a result of the non -existence of fruits for long periods after the 
cyclone; 

 
Predation of grounded wildlife by pigs, dogs, and cats; 

 
Hunting by humans; and 

 
Failure to breed because of the destruction of broods and stress.  
 
Fire has shaped ecosystems in many countries of the hotspot, especially where it has been 
traditionally used to clear land such as in parts of Fiji and Micronesia. When forests are 
burned, especially in dry zones, a savanna dominated by grasslands emerges (Allison and 
Eldredge 1999). This ecosystem is ecologically depauperate compared with what 
preceded it. During the dry season, and especially during droughts, these areas are often 
set on fire again, an action that perpetuates the savanna and demonstrates how the effect 
of natural phenomena can be magnified by human actions. 
 
Droughts and floods and are a localized and ephemeral problem often related to the El 
Niño Southern Oscillation phenomenon. While native forests are somewhat immune to 
flood damage, rainfall runs off much more rapidly from degraded forest, often resulting 
in soil erosion and flooding downstream with impacts on coastal zones and lagoon 
ecosystems. Droughts are not generally of long enough duration to be a serious problem 
to biodiversity in themselves, but may impact on biodiversity by creating the conditions 
necessary for fires. 
 
Since the impacts of natural phenomena are part of the natural pattern in the Pacific, 
native species are adapted to such events and will normally recover. However, there are 
reasons for concern because of the reduction on the available refugia for recovery, that 
non-native animal and plant species may increase after such events and finally because of 
the potential increase in such events as a result of anticipated global climate change. 

 
42
 
 
 
Global climate change and sea-level rise 
Global warming and sea level rise may become the most serious environmental threats in 
the hotspot in future. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) note that 
the average global surface temperature has risen by about 0.6 C in the 20
th
 Century but 
the Pacific is likely to warm at a slightly lower rate (Salinger et al 2001). While the exact 
amount and rate of sea level rise that this will cause remains uncertain, the IPCC 
estimates a global sea-level rise of between 1.2mm/year and 8.6mm/yr over the period 
1990 to 2100, with mid-range estimate of 4.5mm/yr or a total rise of 0.49m by 2100 
(IPCC 1996).  
 
It is not known exactly how much the Pacific will deviate from the global forecasts, 
however, the impacts of even modest increases on atolls which rarely exceed 5m above 
mean sea level could be catastrophic to both human and non-human biota. Impacts 
become even more severe when consideration of other effects such as possible increases 
in intensity and/or frequency of extreme weather events such as floods, drought, and 
cyclones associated with ENSO are taken into account. According to the IPCC, the 
natural systems most vulnerable to climate change include marine systems such as coral 
reefs, atolls and mangroves (Salinger et al 2001). This would include turtle nesting 
beaches and low lying seabird nesting areas (TNC 2003).  
 
Constraints 
As already highlighted, there are a number of serious constraints to effectively dealing 
with environmental problems in the hotspot. Foremost is the natural fragility and 
vulnerability of island ecosystems and biota to outside perturbations. Constraints that 
have an anthropogenic origin are similar to those in other tropical regions, and include: 
population growth, the deterioration of traditional systems and increased 
commercialization of economies, the lack of good public awareness and appreciation by 
decision makers of environmental issues, a lack of knowledge of the current status of 
biodiversity, a lack of capacity especially in terms of the paucity of trained staff and 
resources to deal with environmental problems and the poor integration of environment 
and development in decisionmaking.  
 
Most of the constraints are highly inter-related. For example, a lack of up-to-date 
knowledge of the status and threats to biodiversity can lead to a lack of awareness and 
appreciation by decisionmakers of the environmental costs of development. This lack of 
appreciation itself can lead to a low emphasis being given to, and subsequent under-
resourcing of, environment units and a lack of incorporation and integration of 
environmental issues in decision making. Similarly, poor environmental awareness is 
linked to a lack of resources available for dealing with environmental problems, which 
itself is exacerbated by high population growth.  
 
Population growth 
Many environmental management problems can be traced to high rates of population 
growth and high and increasing population densities. As mentioned earlier, the natural 
rate of population increase remains high in most hotspot political units, but has been 

 
43
 
 
artificially lowered in recent decades due to emigration. As noted, even with current high 
rates of emigration from many Micronesian and Polynesian countries, the projected 
population doubling time ranges from 30 to 58 years (SPC 2003a). If the safety valve of 
emigration were to be turned off, impacts on environment would increase significantly. 
 
Deterioration of traditional systems 
In customary land and sea tenure arrangements, a large degree of control is traditionally 
maintained over use and exploitation of natural resources (ADB 2003). Deterioration of 
such systems and knowledge about them is occurring as a result of westernisation, 
industrialisation, urbanisation and accompanying alienation of the youth from their 
traditions (SPREP 1992). Although traditional systems were not always applied with a 
conservation ethic in mind, these controls were nevertheless practical management tools 
that developed over many generations to ensure the continued supply of particular food 
stocks or medicines (ibid). The decline in the use and knowledge of these systems goes 
hand-in-hand with a general erosion of the traditional authority of chiefs over people and 
resources and a move toward more individualistic and capitalistic socioeconomic activity.  
 
As aspirations for western-style livelihoods and demands for material products increase, 
the traditional subsistence economies of Pacific countries are being supplemented or even 
replaced by cash economies and cash-earning opportunities. This change in 
socioeconomic systems has contributed to a number of the proximate threats to 
biodiversity, including the over-harvest of resources, habitat degradation, and 
development pressures, along with increased waste production and environmental 
pollution.  
 
Poor environmental awareness 
Poor environmental awareness has long been recognized as a major constraint to 
adequately dealing with environmental problems at a regional and national level 
throughout the Pacific. Since Pacific islanders have the most to gain, and to lose, by their 
behaviour in relationship to the environment, it is clear that raising awareness of the 
impacts of those behaviours and improving the knowledge base for sound environmental 
management must become priority actions. The use of “social marketing” tools, where 
increased awareness is translated into understanding, and finally to behavioral change, 
offer particular promise.  
 
The following limiting factors to the development of environmental awareness have been 
identified by SPREP (SPREP 2003c):  
(i) 
A lack of trained and experienced personnel dedicated to the task of 
environmental education and awareness (EEA); 
(ii)  
Inadequate national budget allocations. National budgets need to ensure 
adequate allocation of funds to the area of environmental education and 
awareness; 
(iii)  
Lack of mainstreamed activities in environmental education and 
awareness and a perception that education/awareness is the responsibility 
of a select few. Private sector, government ministries other than 

 
44
 
 
environment and the civil society need to work together in a coordinated 
fashion to ensure effective action in EEA. 
 
A regional Action Strategy for Environmental Education and Training in the Pacific 
Region 1998 – 2003, (SPREP 1998) has been endorsed by SPREP members and 
establishes a regional framework for implementation of environmental education and 
training. While significant progress has been made in implementing the strategy, much 
work is still required to develop and implement strategies at the national level (SPREP 
2003c). 
 
Poor knowledge of Pacific biodiversity 
As already noted, a serious constraint to the development of effective environmental 
management strategies is the poor knowledge of much of the hotspot’s biodiversity and 
the lack of consolidation of the biodiversity information that does exist. Good 
environmental decision making requires a sound information baseline that is 
systematically upgraded, monitored, and disseminated. This will improve the capacity to 
plan and evaluate environmental interventions and trends.  
 
The current population and threat status of Endangered species is particularly lacking, 
even for fairly well known species. Furthermore, there are many candidate threatened 
species for the Red List that urgently require assessment of population and conservation 
status. Even the biodiversity and management effectiveness of protected areas, which 
have been better studied than most areas, is poorly known. The taxonomic data 
deficiency is particularly pronounced with fish, plants and invertebrates, while the 
geographic data deficiency is most serious with the more isolated islands especially in the 
less developed countries of the hotspot. Another issue is the loss of traditional knowledge 
which, as a result of social change and modernization, is not being passed on to the 
younger generation. This knowledge must be recorded soon before it is lost forever. 
 
The Action Strategy for Nature Conservation highlights a number of actions that are 
required to improve the knowledge and understanding of the state of the Pacific’s natural 
environment and biodiversity. Such actions include the development of standardized 
indicators and monitoring methods for ecosystems and natural resources, compiling 
regular state of the environment reports, documenting and disseminating lessons learned 
from conservation initiatives and traditional knowledge, and identifying research needs to 
address knowledge gaps in key areas of biodiversity conservation (SPREP 2003a). 
Another important task is to integrate and consolidate widely scattered data held in 
museum collections, in the scientific literature and elsewhere, into a standard format for 
dissemination throughout the Pacific. 
 
Lack of capacity to deal with environmental problems 
The lack of human, technical, and financial resources assigned to environmental 
management is a fundamental constraint to effectively dealing with environmental 
problems in most hotspot states and territories. Despite the recent strengthening of 
environment units, a major constraint remains the shortage of staff to perform the wide 
and expanding range of environmental management functions. As noted, capacity 

 
45
 
 
building such as human resource development, improving communications and 
information, policy, planning, and institutional strengthening remain key regional 
priorities.  
 
The under-staffing and under-resourcing of environment units is a function not only of 
the weak economies of many hotspot countries but also the greater emphasis given to 
economic growth and the perception that environmental management can be dealt with in 
the latter stages of economic development (ADB 2003). Lack of resources to deal with 
environmental problems is compounded by the great distance, isolation and dispersed 
nature of most hotspot states. 
 
The importance of increasing the financial resources assigned to dealing with 
environmental problems is reflected in the Action Strategy. Recommended actions 
include raising government funding for conservation, incorporating national conservation 
funding plans in all NBSAPs or equivalent strategies, development of regional long-term 
financial mechanisms and directing a portion of natural resource rents to conservation 
initiatives, amongst others. 
 
Poor integration of environment and development in decisionmaking 
It is generally acknowledged that there has historically been poor coordination and 
integration of environmental issues in decisionmaking in the Pacific as a whole. The lack 
of integration has been demonstrated in the scant attention to the environment given in 
national development plans and sectoral plans and policies. This has resulted in conflicts 
in the roles of different line departments and development that has occurred with scant 
attention to environmental costs. 
 
It is now acknowledged that little progress will be made if biodiversity conservation 
continues to be viewed an environmental issue (ADB 2003). Biodiversity conservation 
efforts must be seen within their correct context as sustaining Pacific livelihoods and 
economies as well as maintaining essential ecosystem function. As noted, the increased 
awareness of the linkages between socioeconomic development and ecological integrity 
has prompted the new emphasis on "mainstreaming" conservation into decision making 
adopted as the strategic focus of the current Action Strategy for nature conservation 
(SPREP 2003a).  
 
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