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Nauru - Main Details

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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.

Nauru is a geologically young, isolated and small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. The country’s soils are thinly layered and nutrient poor and heavily depend on the regrowth and development of vegetation cover for their restoration and regeneration, especially on mined lands. As a result of phosphate mining over a hundred years, ancient indigenous forests have been cleared on Nauru’s central plateau that comprised about 80% of the island’s total land area. In response, the Government has instituted the National Rehabilitation Programme whose ultimate aim is the restoration of vegetation cover to improve soil fertility and water retention capacity for possible agriculture development. However, ongoing secondary phosphate mining and current activities stemming from the limestone industry may reduce available boulders and aggregates for constructing the rock bases to rehabilitate the land.

The country’s range of flora and fauna species is limited to 56 native species and 125 naturalized species, with no endemic species of global value. Nauru’s indigenous biota is considered generally low in terrestrial invertebrate species, high in the proportion of Pacific and worldwide insects, with a small proportion of island endemic insects and snails. The situation is similar in regard to Nauru’s flora. Similarly, Nauru has a low diversity of marine invertebrates (79 invertebrate species were recently recorded). Two species of giant clams (Tridacna maxima) thought previously locally extinct have been found. Eight reptile species and 36 bird species have been recorded.

Nauru’s coral reefs have a low diversity of hard coral species (around 51 species) however coral cover is exceptionally healthy. Nauru also has a relatively low diversity of reef fish fauna (around 407 species). The abundance of reef fish is relatively high but signs of overfishing are revealed in the low numbers of large-size fish (i.e. large groupers and snappers). The whitetip reef shark is observed in abundance. Apart from a few strands of the Rhizophora mangrove surrounding the anchialine ponds along the coastline in the district of Anabar, there are no other marine plants, mangroves or seagrasses found. Nauru is known to be a range state for at least 7 migratory species listed for protection under the CMS Appendices (e.g. whale shark, blue whale, humpback whale). The total Exclusive Economic Zone was known for its abundant tuna stocks, especially skipjack and yellowfin and, to a lesser degree, bigeye. However, tuna stocks are heavily influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation events, with more during El Niño periods and less during La Niña periods.

The phosphate mining industry in its heyday brought immense wealth and opportunities to the people of Nauru. However, with the closure of the mine in 2005, Nauru’s economy underwent a serious downturn. During the last decade, the fisheries have contributed about 10% to the country’s GDP. Notably, traditional knowledge and practices for cultivating and using a limited range of plants and animals on land and inshore marine resources, that were valuable social assets for the survival of the population in harsh environmental conditions in the past, have been revived as alternatives for food and livelihood in modern times.

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 following are key threats to Nauru’s biodiversity: phosphate mining and limestone industry; unsustainable population growth; climate change impacts; over-exploitation of land and marine resources; introductions of invasive species; ineffective pollution control and solid waste management; loss of traditional knowledge.

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.

Nauru’s NBSAP was developed in 2009, endorsed by the Government in 2013, however is yet to be formally implemented. The NBSAP contains 8 biodiversity thematic goals (mainstreaming; ecosystems management; species management; communities; access and benefit-sharing from the use of genetic resources; bio-security; agro-biodiversity; financial resources and mechanisms) and 9 cross-cutting issues goals (policies and legislation; community involvement; co-operation and coordination; public awareness; capacity-building; protection of genetic resources; prevention, control and eradication of harmful native and alien species; social and economic development; education). The NBSAP is mainstreamed in Nauru’s Sustainable Development Strategy which is linked to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

The process to revise and update the NBSAP, as well as establish national targets, in line with the global framework, is pending.

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.

Some traditional uses of terrestrial and marine biodiversity for food and livelihoods are still practiced today. This includes toddy collection from coconuts, noddy and frigate bird catching and traditional fishing practices.

Environmental population statistics (2011) reveal that 68% of the population received freshwater from a dispatcher or a desalination plant; 29% used rain catchment with the remainder from a well and 99% are connected to the national electricity grid. About 13% of households maintain vegetable gardening and simple food cropping, and about half of all households are engaged in fishing activities on the reef flats and in the 12-mile zone for coastal fishing activities.

Several important biodiversity indicators were included in the National Census (2011), such as indicators for bird hunting and inshore fisheries.

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.

Biodiversity has been integrated into recently-developed policies for the other Rio Conventions (National Action Plan (NAP) (UNCCD) and the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) (UNFCCC)).

Eight key national and community programmes and projects with important bearings on the biodiversity needs of Nauru, as defined in its NBSAP, were carried out in the last 5 years, including: Nauru’s Rapid Biodiversity Assessment Project (2013); Grow and Green Project (2012-2014); Clean and Green Programme (2012-2014); Sustainable Land Management Project (2008-2011); Integrated Water Resources Management Project (2009-2014); National Rehabilitation Programme (1994-2014); Taiwan Technical Mission and the Department of Commerce, Industries and Environment’s Horticulture and Livestock Breeding Project (2012-2014); Community Coastal Fisheries Management Program (2012-2014).

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.

The monitoring of biodiversity is unclear and seems non-existent which is a reflection of the absence of any effective and systematic national monitoring system of natural resources in the country, apart from the regular five-year population census cycles. A prescribed monitoring system to track and evaluate progress for biodiversity action has been defined in the NBSAP which is yet be formally implemented.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme