Country Profiles

Micronesia (Federated States of) - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The islands of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) are located in the western Pacific Ocean and house some of the most biologically diverse coral reefs and forests on the planet. The reefs are home to nearly 1,000 species of fish, more than 350 species of hard coral and 1,200 species of mollusks. The islands contain over 1,239 species of ferns and flowering plants, of which approximately 782 are native and over 200 are endemic. Of the terrestrial fauna, Micronesia harbors: over 27 species of reptile and amphibians, of which at least 4 are endemic; 5 endemic species and subspecies of fruit bats of the genus Pteropus and a sheath-tailed bat of the genus Emballonura; 119 species of birds, including 31 resident seabirds, 33 migratory shorebirds, 19 migratory land or wetland birds and 5 vagrant species; as well as unique mammalian and invertebrate species such as owls, flying foxes, dragonflies and snails. The diversity of terrestrial plants and animals varies from east to west due to differences in climate, geology, topography and geographical isolation. Each of the four States is represented by its unique biodiversity. Kosrae State has magnificent swamp forests dominated by two endemic trees. Pohnpei has the most endemic species of the country and Yap has the most diverse mangroves and agro-forests. Chuuk is high in endemics and also possesses the most endangered native forests in Micronesia.

The status of FSM biodiversity is both spectacular and extremely fragile. It is influenced by both natural and anthropogenic features and has a multitude of unique and biologically notable terrestrial, coastal/marine, inland wetland, riparian and agricultural ecosystems. Forests are a predominant vegetation type on the islands, and contain a wide variety of species. They range from lowland, premontane and montane rain forests, moist evergreen forests, to dwarf or cloud forests of the tropical moist forest eco-region, and the predominant dry mixed broadleaf forests, mangrove forests and savannas of the tropical dry forest eco-region.

Ecosystem services are extremely important in FSM, with 14,517 km2 of reefs providing coastal protection and a source of livelihood to the majority of citizens. FSM has long-term prospects for economic self-sufficiency which rely heavily on fishing, agriculture and tourism, all of which are dependent on national biodiversity. FSM is also home to one of the last great tuna stocks left in the world which supplies local communities and markets. Increasingly, foreign and illegal fishing vessels are tapping into these stocks causing significant depletions.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The isolated and ecological uniqueness of FSM is what ultimately threatens it the most through the extreme fragility of its ecosystems and biodiversity. This means that the impact of its most predominant threats: overexploitation of biological resources; habitat loss and deforestation; land degradation; climate change; pollution; spread of alien invasive species; and infrastructure development and urbanization, have an extremely severe impact on biodiversity. These impacts are largely caused by increased development; an immersion into a market economy; and an increasing population. These threats are also exacerbated by a lack of knowledge on the relative impacts of various threats to biodiversity as well as gaps in needed taxonomic data.

Of its biodiversity, 19% of marine fish, 8% of resident birds, 25% of mammals, 22% of evaluated invertebrates, 75% of reptiles and 75% of evaluated flowering plants are threatened. There is also growing evidence that sharks are likely to be one of the first marine species to go extinct due to their vulnerability to anthropogenic pressures.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The FSM NBSAP was formulated between January 2001 and March 2002 and comprised an extensive process of research, and multi-sectoral consultative activities involving state, national and municipal government agencies; NGOs; the private sector; and community stakeholders. The FSM NBSAP is a foundational document underpinning the development policies of the Federation and, along with the FSM Sustainable Development Strategy (2003), is one of two documents that guide the sustainable development of the country across the social, economic and environmental pillars of government and society as a whole.

Objectives have been determined for the following themes: species management; genetic resource use; agro-biodiversity; ecological sustainable industry; biosecurity; waste management; human resources and institutional development; resource owners; mainstreaming biodiversity; and financial resources. Specific targets and actions have been developed for all of these themes.

The FSM is currently revising and updating its NBSAP, in line with the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Targets, the National Strategic Development Plan (SDP) and the Micronesia Challenge Framework.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

One of the major priorities in FSM is the documentation and monitoring of the current status of biodiversity. There have been national efforts to undertake surveys on terrestrial, marine and freshwater biodiversity; periodically map vegetation cover; increase biodiversity research and publish results of projects and monitoring exercises; implement restoration programs; and develop appropriate information-sharing systems.

Key achievements towards the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets include the establishment of a network of terrestrial protected areas of 5,880 ha (comprising 10% of the total land area); 39,902 ha of Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) and Biosphere Reserves, as well as 16 community/fishery reserves. It is a primary target to have at least 20% of the nation’s coral reefs protected by 2020.

There have also been some restoration programs for key species such as giant clams, sponges and corals with captive breeding and ex situ conservation measures in places; rapid ecological assessments for corals and fish in all States; a long-term turtle tagging and monitoring project. Invasive species control workshops and in situ control programmes are ongoing throughout the FSM, including rat eradication programmes in Madolenihmw, Pohnpei and Kosrae.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Enforcement of ecosystem management plans and various laws and regulations are mandated, but remain a central challenge to FSM. Illegal activities such as dynamite fishing in Chuuk are being pursued through special enforcement actions, but problems still persist.

Resource availability in FSM is relatively clear cut as it relates to the implementation of the CBD and the NBSAP. Domestic funding is obtained largely through annual US Compact funds, which are funneled to the six sectors, with the Environment sector being the sixth and smallest at about $2 million available per year.

Mainstreaming biodiversity considerations into national policies and programs has been made by the FSM through the transference of the NBSAP themes and actions into the Environment Sector Matrix within the National Strategic Development Plan. Issues relevant to biodiversity conservation can also be found in the National Strategic Development Plan (SDP), Infrastructure Development Plan (IDP), Millennium Development Goals and Micronesia Conservation Trust. Other departments have made efforts to incorporate biodiversity issues including: the Fisheries department; Forestry (although there is no nationwide forestry policy, there are regional conservation projects in place); Agriculture; and Tourism (where ecotourism has been identified as one of the main areas for potential economic development).

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

It is difficult to properly assess progress in NBSAP implementation. After nine years of implementation, a review is overdue. Areas that have been identified as in need of strengthening include having a monitoring plan with well thought through monitoring targets and indicators. Several relevant studies and programs are in progress that will generate relevant information with which to review the statuses of priority species, taxonomic groups and ecological sites. The preparation of the Fourth National Report was an excellent exercise in this regard.