Status and Trends of Biodiversity
In terms of Niue’s terrestrial ecosystems, 175 vascular plant species were identified, including one endemic species and 26 species identified as potentially invasive. Seven types of vegetation are currently recognized, comprising Cropland and Fern land and Littoral Shrub land, Littoral Forest, Coastal Forest, Mature Forest and Secondary Forest. Three animal species are of particular importance, which are the uga or coconut crab, the peka or flying fox and the lupe or Pacific pigeon. A survey in the 1960s recorded 376 insect species in 15 orders. Thirty-one birds species have been recorded in Niue, 6 seabirds, 10 shorebirds and 15 landbirds. But none of the birds are endemic to the island at the species level, but there are two endemic sub-species the heahea or Polynesian triller and miti or Polynesian starling. Observations made in 1994-1995 suggest that the status of three species was of particular concern, i.e. the pacific pigeon, the hega or blue-crowned lory and moho or spotless crake. In terms of marine ecosystems, Niue has no lagoon and there is a narrow fringing reef round most of the island with a thin layer of corals, with richer coral growth at the edge. There are 70 coral genera commonly known in the Pacific Islands and at least 43 had been recorded on the Niue rock shelf. Humpback whales are the most common whales in Niuean waters and single minke whales and pods of pilot whales are also seen together with one species of dolphin, the spinner dolphin. Two species of turtle are found in Niuean waters, the hawksbill and green. A preliminary checklist of fish lists 240 species, excluding small bullies and eels found in freshwater caves. Niuean waters contain significant populations of tuna and billfish. There is a rich though largely undocumented marine invertebrate fauna. Threats to Niue’s biodiversity include damage by cyclones and some fishing techniques, coral bleaching, natural instability and invasive species.
Number and Extent of Protected Areas
One forest conservation reserve is established in Huvalu and one marine protected area established in Anomo. In addition, a few traditional village reserves have been established.
Percentage of Forest Cover
The forest cover accounts for 65-70% of the land area of the island, compared to 90% in the 1950s, representing a severe rate of deforestation. The area of primary and regenerating forest has been reduced by 30% between 1966 and 1994 with most clearance occurring in the inner parts of the island.