CONSERVATION OUTCOMES This ecosystem profile includes a commitment and emphasis to achieve concrete
conservation outcomes. To do this requires defining the set of quantifiable, justifiable
targets that need to be achieved to prevent biodiversity loss.
Conservation outcomes can be defined at three scales – species, site, and 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. As conservation
in the field succeeds in achieving these targets, they become demonstrable results or
outcomes: “Extinctions Avoided” (species level), “Areas Protected” (site level), and
“Corridors Consolidated” (landscape level).
While CEPF cannot achieve all of the outcomes identified for a region on its own, the
partnership is trying to ensure that its conservation investments are working toward
preventing biodiversity loss and that its success can be monitored and measured.
Therefore, the targets (hereafter “outcomes”), are the scientific underpinning for CEPF’s
geographic and thematic focus for investment in Polynesia and Micronesia. 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 Defining conservation outcomes is a bottom-up process with a definition of species-level
targets first, from which the definition of site-level targets is based. The process requires
detailed knowledge of the conservation status of individual species. Although this
information has been accumulating in global Red Lists produced by IUCN-The World
Conservation Union and partners for more than 40 years, our knowledge of the
population status of most threatened species is still very deficient. This is especially true
in the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot, where surveys and research on rare species are very
The Red Lists are based on quantitative criteria under which the probability of extinction
is estimated for each species. Species classified as “threatened” on the Red List have a
high probability of extinction in the medium term future. These include the three IUCN
categories Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU). Defining
outcomes is a fluid process and, as data become available, species-level outcomes will be
expanded to include other taxonomic groups that previously had not been assessed, as
well as restricted-range species. Avoiding extinctions means conserving globally
threatened species to make sure that their Red List status improves or at least stabilizes.
This in turn means that data are needed on population trends; for most of the threatened
species, there are no such data.
The sheer size and scale of the hotspot and the large number of countries included in it
meant that the volume of data gathered for defining outcomes was immense. A
comprehensive database was developed to assist this process. Data sources included
published scientific papers, species recovery plans, NBSAP reports, field guides, and
personal communications with many scientists. Key data sources for birds were the
Threatened Birds of the World (BirdLife 2000) and Endemic Bird Areas of the World (Stattersfield et al 1998). Data on plant distributions was drawn from volumes 1-5 of
Flora Vitiensis Nova by A.C. Smith (1979 to 1995), and volumes 2-5 of Pacific Plant Areas (Van Balgooy 1966-1993), for amphibians from the Global Amphibian Assessment (Frost 2002) and for mammals from Mammals of the South West Pacific and Moluccan Islands (Flannery 1995).
Species outcomes in the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot include all those species that are
globally threatened according to the IUCN Red List (2003) at the time the outcomes were
defined in the profiling process. At present, there are 476 globally threatened terrestrial
species in all the countries and territories of the hotspot. Table 4 summarizes the
taxonomic breakdown of the 476 threatened species in the hotspot while the full list of
threatened species is shown in Appendix 1. Table 5 shows the geographic distribution of
threatened species by political unit, while Figure 2 is a map of this information.
Almost half (232 out of 476) of the threatened species in the hotspot are in political units
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 full set of
species outcomes for this ecosystem profile. Species outcomes for the eligible portion of
the hotspot (of the 244 species) include 129 plants, 42 molluscs, 58 birds, eight
mammals, six reptiles and one amphibian. Of the 244 species, 92 are Critically
Endangered, 48 are Endangered and 104 are Vulnerable. Absent from the list are fish and
invertebrates, other than molluscs. This is likely because of the lack of an assessment of
the conservation status of these taxa for inclusion in the Red List at the time.
Eighty percent of globally threatened species in eligible countries (192 out of the 244
species) are in Fiji and French Polynesia alone. The statistics imply that these two
countries should be a major focus of conservation effort in the hotspot. However, it is
likely that these figures are also a reflection of the amount of research effort that has been
conducted in each country. Fiji and French Polynesia, being two of the wealthier
countries in the hotspot, are where much of the research effort has been focused. It is
clear that much more research is required in the less-studied countries of the hotspot to
provide a more accurate representation of the distribution of threatened species
throughout the hotspot.
It must be stressed therefore that there are significant deficiencies in the Red List for the
hotspot with respect to both the taxonomic representation and the geographic distribution
of Red Listed species. The taxonomic deficiencies are especially serious with respect to
invertebrates, fish, and plants, while the geographic deficiency is especially true for the
smaller, less wealthy countries of the hotspot. Appendix 2 includes a list of provisional
species outcomes, which local and regional experts suspect are globally threatened. These
species are in urgent need of assessment of population and threat status. If they are
reassessed as globally threatened during the five-year investment period, they could
become species-level targets and therefore potentially eligible for CEPF investment.
Table 4. Summary of Species Outcomes (Globally Threatened Species) in the Polynesia- Micronesia Hotspot and Those Only in Countries Eligible for CEPF Funding
Total Number of Globally Threatened Terrestrial Species in the Hotspot Number of Globally Threatened Terrestrial Species in Countries Eligible for CEPF Funding Taxonomic Group Vulnerable
% of kn
No. of kno
the past 20
Plants 94 59 90 243
61 19 49 129 Molluscs 7 31 68 106
8 27 42 Birds 50 25 21 96
33 16 9
58 Arthropods 13
0 0 0 Mammals 2 3 4 9
2 2 4 8 Reptiles 1 2 3 6
1 2 3 6 Amphibians 0 1 0 1
0 1 0 1 Totals 167 123 186 476
104 48 92 244 Source: IUCN Red List 2003.
1. Calculated from data presented in Table 2.
2. Estimate provided by Dr Robert Cowie (pers.comm., 2004)
Figure 2. Distribution of Globally Threatened Terrestrial Species in the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot
Table 5. Summary of Threatened Terrestrial Species in Political Units of the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot
Threatened Terrestrial Species per Political Unit Taxonomic Group A
Site Outcomes Recognizing that most species are best conserved through the protection of the sites in
which they occur, key biodiversity areas are defined as targets for achieving site-level
conservation outcomes. Key biodiversity areas are physically and/or socioeconomically
discrete areas of land that harbor species of global conservation concern including
globally threatened species, but also of restricted-range species and globally significant
congregations. Sites are scale-independent, in other words they can be small or large, but
a major criterion for their selection is that they should be, as far as possible, manageable
as a single unit (i.e. a unit with a single type of land tenure). These sites need careful
management to conserve the species for which they were defined. The process of
defining key biodiversity areas can only be done when accurate and comprehensive data
are available on the distribution of threatened species across sites.
When appropriate data were available, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) tools
were used to map and analyze species distributions. Such maps were useful for the
identification of site outcomes, or key biodiversity areas. Digital datasets were obtained
for the following taxonomic groups: birds (from BirdLife 2000), amphibians (from the
Global Amphibian Assessment- Frost 2002) and corals (from Veron 1986). However,
detailed species distribution maps have only been generated for a few species, and most
species were only mapped to the country of occurrence and in a few cases to specific
Key biodiversity areas 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 regional
ecosystem survey (Dahl 1980), a number of GIS data layers, data from the World
Database on Protected Areas (IUCN-UNEP 2003), NBSAP reports, ecological survey
data, subregional workshops, and communications with many scientists. Data on
restricted-range species and globally significant congregations were not available for this
analysis but could be incorporated at a later date, especially with the upcoming project of
BirdLife International to define Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for the Pacific. This hotspot
is likely to have several sites containing globally important congregations of seabirds;
however only one site, the Phoenix Islands, was identified using this criterion (Angela
Kepler, pers comm). It is a priority to refine this analysis of key biodiversity areas by
systematically applying the globally singificant congregations criteria, as well as
restricted-range criteria, in the near future.
In total, 161 sites were identified for the hotspot, each containing at least one globally
threatened species, and most of the sites contain several or many globally threatened
species. A total of 243 species (all but one of the 244 eligible species) were assigned to at
least one site. The only species which was not assigned to a site is the leatherback turtle
(Dermochelys coriacea), which does not nest in the hotspot but has been reported from
Palau and Fiji.
The full list of key biodiversity areas, with distribution by country, is presented in
Appendix 3. Some of the sites are islands or groups of islands (typically small islands),
because finer-scale data for some areas were not available. Many of the sites selected
have also been identified as critical sites for conservation by other environmental
organizations. All sites are within one of the 20 Pacific terrestrial ecoregions (Olson et al 2001). Furthermore, 54 sites (33 percent) are, or are within, existing or planned protected
areas, 70 sites (43 percent) are within an endemic bird area (Stattersfield et al 1998), and
51 sites (31 percent) are within a Center of Plant Diversity (van Royen and Davis 1995).
Table 6 shows the distribution of sites by the 14 CEPF eligible countries in the hotspot.
Note that there is also one transboundary site, the proposed Central Pacific World
Heritage Site, which includes islands in three countries in the central Pacific: Kiribati, the
United States, and the Cook Islands.
Table 6. Distribution of Site Outcomes (Key Biodiversity Areas) by Six Major Taxonomic Groups in CEPF Eligible Countries in the Hotspot Percentage of eligible globally threatened species captured in the sites Number of Sites in CEPF eligible countries Taxonomic Group Vulnerable
Total Sites Plants 100
1 0 11
0 0 1 1 2 4 0 2
Totals* 100 100 100 100 5 0 53 35 38 3 7 1 4 3 6 1 3 1 1 161 * Totals do not always add up because most sites contain a mix of species from different taxonomic groups.
Human Demography Key human demographic features of most countries in the hotspot are high natural
population growth rates, young populations (on average, around 40 percent of the
population is under 14 years), increasing urbanization, and high out-migration to
developed countries of the region such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
At current natural population growth rates of between 1 and 3 percent per annum, the
population of the Polynesia-Micronesia region would be expected to double in the next
30 years (Micronesia) to 58 years (Polynesia) (SPC 2003a). High natural population
growth rates are a result of a relatively high fertility rate but a declining death rate. The
highest fertility rates are in the Micronesian countries such the Marshall Islands and
Kiribati, with the lowest rates in Niue and French Polynesia. However, Pacific people are
in general highly migratory and with the exception of Hawaii and most U.S. and French
territories, all countries and states in the hotspot have experienced negative net migration
or extensive out migration over the past decade (SPC 2003a).
While much of the migration is to metropolitan Pacific rim countries, such as the United
States, New Zealand and Australia, some of it is between Pacific countries, such as from
Samoa to American Samoa, from Micronesian countries to Guam, and from Wallis and
Futuna to New Caledonia. Migration has artificially reduced the population growth in
real terms in most countries and even resulted in negative net growth rates in some
countries. Negative population growth as a result of emigration to New Zealand is a
particularly serious problem in Niue and Tokelau, which are struggling to maintain viable
economies and infrastructures with a diminishing labour force.
While the majority of Pacific islanders still live in rural areas, urban settlements are
growing rapidly throughout the hotspot. As elsewhere in the world, the greater
development and infrastructure and services available in urban areas has encouraged
internal migration from rural to urban areas and from outer islands to regional centers and
national capitals. This is especially true in Micronesia, which is more urbanized than
Polynesia and also has a higher urban growth rate (SPC 2003a). The population density
in many townships in the Pacific, but especially on the atolls such as Majuro, Funafuti
and Tarawa, is reaching high levels, and is associated with health, sanitation, housing,
and infrastructural problems (UNDP 1994).
The high proportion of young people and adults in the Polynesia-Micronesia region has
resulted in pressures on infrastructure and services. Unemployment and
underemployment of young adults is a major development issue in many hotspot states.
Most PICTs are diversifying their economies to meet demands for semi-formal and
informal employment but this is compounded by the general lack of vocational and
technical skills amongst the youth.
Economy Pacific island economies are highly vulnerable to external economic fluctuations,
changing trade policies, and environmental shocks. The susceptibility of economies stems
from an interplay of factors such as remoteness from world markets, a high dependency
on exports of agricultural commodities that have relatively low value on international
markets, geographical dispersion of islands, vulnerability to natural disasters, small
internal markets, and limited natural resource bases (UNDP 1999).
The ecological dependency of Pacific economies and societies is well recognized. Pacific
island societies have traditionally depended on the environment and natural resources for
food, shelter, water, and medicine. However, as aspirations and expectations of Pacific
communities have changed, economies are becoming increasingly dualistic with the co-
existence of monetary and subsistence economies. At the same time, lifestyles are
increasingly materialistic and westernized.
Agriculture and fisheries remain the mainstay of the economies of most of the
independent hotspot countries and are particularly important because they support both
subsistence economies and export industries that contribute significantly to economic
growth. Formerly, agricultural exports of copra, cocoa, and bananas were principal
sources of foreign exchange for many PICTs, but their importance has declined as
production has increased in other regions, especially South America. Sugar remains a
major export from Fiji, but may decrease in importance as preferential access to the
European market is phased out under World Trade Organization rules. Other extractive
industries such as logging and mining are not significant industries in the independent
countries of the hotspot, except in Fiji. Tourism is an important industry in some hotspot
countries and territories, especially Fiji, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, CNMI, and
Guam, and is becoming increasingly important to many other island economies. Given
the large marine area included in the Exclusive Economic Zones of most PICTs,
development of offshore fisheries is one of the few industries with significant future
development potential. The fisheries industry contributes approximately 11 percent of the
combined GDP of all PICTs and about half of the value of all exports from the region
(Gillet et al 2001).
Economic growth of many hotspot countries has been very slow in recent years with per
capita incomes stagnant in many countries (UNDP 1999). Hawaii, the U.S. territories,
and French Polynesia are the wealthiest, most developed, and industrialized political
entities in the hotspot, while the independent atoll states of Kiribati and Tuvalu and the
French Territory of Wallis and Futuna have the lowest GDP per capita (Crocombe 2001).
Economic development within the hotspot varies significantly from country to country
depending on natural resource endowments and socio-political affiliations with
metropolitan nations. Because of their small size and lack of terrestrial resources, most
hotspot states have relatively limited opportunities for development and are highly
dependent on aid and remittances. In general, the atoll states are the most economically
vulnerable because of their small, dispersed land masses and limited terrestrial resource
bases, while it is the larger, volcanic island countries such as Palau, FSM, Fiji, Samoa,
and Tonga that lead in terms of economic diversification and potential.
Aid and remittances are likely to remain an important feature of the economies of the
independent states of the hotspot. The amount of aid received per person in the Pacific is
the highest of any region in the world but is declining (Crocombe 2001). Overseas
development assistance from bilateral donors particularly the Australian Agency for
International Development (AusAID), the European Union, the Japanese International
Cooperation Agency, and the New Zealand Agency for International Development
(NZAid) and multilateral donors and banks, continues to play an important role in most
Pacific island economies struggling with high debt deficits and deteriorating terms of
trade (UNDP 1999).