Status and Trends of Biodiversity
The Republic of Fiji consists of approximately 300 islands exceeding half an hectare in area, with an aggregate land area of approximately 18,300 km2. There are also many smaller islets, cays and offshore rocks. Viti Levu and Vanua Levu comprise 88% of the total land area. It is estimated that no more than 100 of the islands are permanently inhabited. Fiji's larger volcanic islands are dominated by steep, mountainous country deeply incised by rivers and streams. Rainfall is probably the physical parameter that causes the most marked vegetation changes. Broadly the forests can be divided into four very generalised types of vegetation that correlate primarily with rainfall - wet, intermediate, dry zone and coastal forests. Much of the dry zone vegetation has been reduced to grasslands and degraded fernlands by repeated burning. The Fijian rain forest is characterised by having a comparatively large number of species of diverse families, without any real dominants. It supports many lianas, ferns and epiphytes including orchids.
The total number of vascular plants known from Fiji is approximately 2600 of which approximately 1600 are native and 1000 are introduced. The fern flora, in particular, is highly developed with 303 taxa of which 88 (29%) are endemic species. Fiji’s fauna includes 55 terrestrial breeding bird species, of which 24 are endemic, and 15 species of breeding seabirds. The only indigenous mammals are bats, of which there are six known species. Introduced and naturalised mammals include four rodents and the Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus). Marine life also abounds in Fiji, which has one of the largest and best-developed coral reef systems in the South Pacific. All of the major reef types are represented (fringing reefs, barrier reefs, platform reefs, oceanic ribbon reefs, drowned reef shoals, atolls and near atolls). There are 1,200 species of fish, 200 corals and 1,100 molluscs and many thousands of other invertebrates (sponges, worms, crustaceans, starfish, sea urchins, etc) that have been described to date. Threats to the biodiversity of Fiji include overfishing, pollution, and aquatic species introductions