Island Biodiversity

Case Studies - Island Biodiversity

For all islands—small and large, island nations and nations with islands, large continental remnants and remote atolls—there are opportunities and challenges for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Most islands have identified and made commitments to implement clear goals and priority actions towards the conservation and sustainable use of their unique, yet fragile, biodiversity. The ultimate goal of their action is to become economically, socially and ecologically resilient and self-sufficient in this changing world. Island communities have demonstrated their ability to make major, rapid progress when they have the resources and tools to address their problems.

Islands are microcosms of their continental counterparts, where strategies, policies and management regimes for sustainable development can be applied, tested and refined; where the components of cause and effect are more readily assessed, outcomes more rapidly seen and results more specifically tangible. Focusing efforts and resources on the conservation and sustainable use of island biodiversity and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of island genetic resources can provide rapid progress towards the reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss on Earth.

Increasing the number and coverage of protected areas
Many of the insular systems coincide with "hotspots", sites of high conservation priority. The importance of protected areas is therefore of paramount importance in island settings. The trend in the number and coverage of protected areas in SIDS has been almost exponential in the last 10 years. The management objectives have also been shifting from strict conservation to managed resource protected areas, which allow for the multiple uses of natural resources within those areas.

Palau's first nation-wide network of Marine Protected Areas underway
The network, which is part of the Transforming Coral Reef Conservation in the 21st Century (TCRC) initiative, integrates the concept of resilience incorporating coral reef bleaching resistance, survivability, connectivity and sustainability to address both the local resource management concerns and broader global threats. Palau has a solid track record for establishing marine protected areas (MPAs), strong political support for the network concept from communities to the highest level of the national government, and access to research and conservation resources, scientists and facilities. Experience in Palau will help guide implementation of future MPA networks throughout the world.

Successful reintroduction of the nene goose (Branta sandvicensis) in Hawaii
Nene, or Hawaiian goose (Branta sandvicensis), inhabits grazed pastures and upland scrub in Hawaii. In 1967, the nene was designated an endangered species due to its low numbers and lack of self-sustaining populations. Predation by introduced species (such as mongooses, feral cats and dogs) and commercial over-hunting contributed to the decline of this flightless goose. Only 30 individuals remained by 1950. Through captive breeding and careful re-introduction to lowland areas (with rich grass foraging habitat and low densities of non-native mongooses), it has now been possible to establish new viable populations. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates the costs of the complete recovery of the nene at about US$ 9.8 million.

Komodo National Park: Addressing direct and indirect pressures
Komodo National Park encompasses four islands as well as their surrounding waters in Indonesia. The park is home to many endemic species, including the famous "komodo dragons". The threats to biodiversity include human population pressure, tourism, invasive alien species and, most importantly, destructive fishing practices. Park authorities, assisted by the central government and environmental organizations, have developed an adaptive management plan that applies a range of measures to address those threats. They include zoning, enforcement, capacity-building for alternative livelihoods (i.e., sustainable seaweed farming), awareness programmes, promotion of sustainable tourism as a means of financing, coral monitoring and research, and installation of mooring buoys. Participative marine and terrestrial patrols were established as enforcement means. The measures taken have reduced blast fishing by over 80%.

The Micronesia Conservation Trust: Capacity-building and financing
The Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT) was established as the nation's funding mechanism to implement the archipelago's National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). Through a grants system with clear criteria, it provides long-term funding to community and non-governmental organizations that work to conserve sites identified as Areas of Biodiversity Significance in the NBSAP. The MCT also contributes to the establishment of public-private partnerships to address the environmental challenges faced by the small islands as well as to share best practices. Twenty-four priority sites have benefited from the Micronesia Conservation Trust or will benefit in the near future.

Transforming coral reef conservation: Building resilience
The Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with scientists and other organizations, has developed tools to promote and enhance the establishment of marine protected areas in order to conserve coral reefs and sustain the livelihoods they support. Attention is given to the factors that build the resilience of coral reefs in the face of anticipated climate change, coral bleaching and other threats. Amongst the tools developed by TNC is the Reef Resilience Toolkit, which provides guidance to address coral bleaching and conserve reef fish spawning aggregations.

Siberut Island National Park and Biosphere Reserve

The Ecosystem Approach implemented by local fishermen in Bocas del Toro

Eradication of Introduced mammals from the Islands of New Zealand

Koi carp

Risks, Costs and Benefits of using brodifacoum to eradicate rats from Kapiti Island


Incentive measures for conservation of biodiversity and sustainability: a case study of the Galapagos Islands

Valuing the Environment in Small Islands - An Environmental Economics Toolkit