Ecosystem Profile: Polynesia-Micronesia

CEPF Niche for Investment
The purpose of the CEPF investment niche is to define explicitly what CEPF is best placed to target in CEPF eligible countries in the hotspot. Niche development was based on an analysis of information gathered as part of the profile preparation phase. It should be noted that while information from all countries in the hotspot has been compiled, the analysis of information has been conducted within the context of the geographic prioritization dictated by CEPF eligibility.

Three major themes have been analyzed to define the niche for the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot: species and site outcomes; major threats to Endangered species; and current environmental investments together with national and regional conservation strategies. A number of overarching factors have emerged from this analysis and have contributed to the definition of the niche for CEPF investment in this hotspot.

Conservation Outcomes
One of the primary factors in defining the niche is the determination of globally threatened species and site outcomes and a defined subset of these that CEPF investment will tackle. Since CEPF funding will only be available for conservation activity in the 14 eligible political units in the hotspot, species, and site outcomes have only been prepared for these political units. Species outcomes have then been prioritized based on the degree of threat to the species, whether the species requires special attention such as the control of invasives or harvesting (species focused actions), and the taxonomic distinctiveness of the species. Site outcomes have been prioritized based on whether the site is irreplaceable (contains species found in no other site), on the number of single site endemics in the site, and the alien-free status of the site.

An analysis of globally threatened species in the hotspot reveals three major findings. The first is that our knowledge of the biodiversity of the hotspot is very patchy, incomplete, and not well managed. Data are especially incomplete in terms of geographic distribution, taxonomic representation and in particular, population status of threatened species. The taxonomic groups that are least well-studied include the invertebrates, fish, and plants, while the geographic deficiency is greatest for the small, isolated islands, especially those in the less wealthy countries of the hotspot. The second major finding is that terrestrial species and ecosystem conservation are not currently well-supported in the region. Despite the urgency, there is little current investment in the protection of numerous and highly threatened terrestrial areas of regional or global significance. Greater emphasis is needed on the conservation of the most viable and least disturbed natural ecosystems, such as the larger forest blocks, based on sound conservation biology principles. A third finding is that the practice of conservation through conventional forms of protected areas throughout the Pacific Islands region appears to have been largely ineffective, having historically been applied without due respect for customary land and resource tenure, traditional practices and rights. Recent experience indicates that co-management of protected areas by communities and government or an NGO are more effective than conventional approaches but need to include a strong communication and environmental awareness strategy to be successful.

Significant opportunity therefore exists for CEPF to:

Significant Threats
As noted, the terrestrial biodiversity of the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot is among the most highly threatened in the world, especially when calculated per unit of land area or per capita. Oceania as a whole has had the greatest number of species extinctions of any region of the world since 1600 and many more taxa are on the verge of extinction. Furthermore, only about 20 percent of the vegetation remains in a natural state, the rest is highly degraded. The major threats to Pacific biota are anthropogenic and include invasive alien species, habitat alteration and loss, destructive harvesting, and the over-exploitation of natural resources.

Of all the threats, targeting invasive species is one of the most important areas of activity. There are a number of global and regional projects that have focused on researching, gathering, and disseminating information on invasive species but relatively little funding has been available for island restoration activities in the hotspot. A regional strategy that addresses invasive species has been developed, and a major GEF-funded program targeting invasive species, is about to commence. However, the GEF-funded program will focus on strengthening national legal and institutional frameworks rather than invasive species control and will not be executed in all countries in the hotspot. There are therefore significant opportunities for CEPF to complement and support existing initiatives, especially in countries not covered by the GEF program such as the French territories.

There are good opportunities for CEPF to:

Current Investments and Strategies
CEPF’s support to civil society efforts will operate within the context and framework of existing and planned regional, national, and local investments in biodiversity conservation. There are a number of such efforts in the hotspot. Efforts at the national level included the development of National Environmental Management Strategies in the 1990s, and more recently the preparation of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans in many hotspot countries. The latter form a blueprint for national conservation action in each country. At the regional level, the major strategic effort is the 2003-2007 Pacific Islands Action Strategy for Nature Conservation. The theme of the current strategy is the mainstreaming of nature conservation into all development sectors involving partnerships between conservationists, governments, the private sector, and civil society. The strategy has the support of Pacific Island countries, SPREP, donors, and the regional NGO community.

An analysis of current investments and strategies indicates that significant implementation gaps remain in a number of areas. While there are many existing national and regional conservation strategies, the strategies need much stronger support for implementation. 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. There are therefore significant opportunities for CEPF to complement existing strategies and support under-funded components that target biodiversity outcomes.

Major Action Strategy objectives that CEPF is well-placed to target include:

CEPF Niche
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:

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.

The CEPF niche has been developed with the understanding that levels of funding support will vary according to absorptive capacity of local civil society and partners, prioritization of the species and site outcomes, political climate, biodiversity assessments, and other key factors likely to change over the course of CEPF investment.

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