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Niue - Main Details

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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.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

Niue’s NBSAP contains a vision, six goals and actions grouped under seven themes. The vision is to turn Niue into an environmentally friendly nation that supports the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity to support all the living community. Six goals include: retaining and enhancing existing biodiversity; integrating biodiversity into government development policies and plans; improving local community understanding about biodiversity and mobilizing their participation in biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and benefit-sharing; improving capacities for sustainable management of natural resources; developing financial mechanisms at various levels for conservation and sustainable management; and strengthening environmental education and awareness and improving information sharing. Seven themes cover terrestrial habitats, terrestrial species, marine biodiversity, governance, waste management and water resources, alien invasive species and public awareness and education. Priority actions identified include: protection of traditional knowledge, in-situ and ex-situ conservation, protection of threatened species and establishing a database of biodiversity. Niue’s NBSAP was developed on the basis of two legislations: the Environment Bill and the Integrated Environment Planning and Management Bill. Biodiversity is also included in Niue’s Integrated Strategic Plan as well as some policies and laws, such as National Inshore Fisheries Management Plan and Domestic Fishing Regulation.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

No specific targets have been set, however, certain programs and strategies have been included in the NBSAP. In addition, some actions are being taken to help achieve some targets related to the 2010 target. A national hunting ban has been imposed on the flying fox and the pigeon for two years. Forest policy statement recommended a total allowable harvesting of 10 – 15 ha per annum. The Agriculture & Quarantine Act and associated regulations are enforced to reduce impacts of invasive species. The National Waste Management Plan, e.g. removal of scrap metal off the island, is being implemented to reduce pollution impacts on biodiversity. Organic farming practices are being promoted towards an eco-nation by 2010. Land clearing of forest areas and specific ecosystems are being discouraged. Traditional practices are integrated into conservation and management of marine resources. A national committee is to be established to oversee protection of traditional knowledge and access and sui generic mechanisms for the protection of traditional knowledge. Efforts are made to increase primary and secondary forest areas.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

Some forest conservation areas, marine reserves and traditional village reserves have been established to protect forest, marine biodiversity and traditional knowledge.

Initiatives in Access and Benefit Sharing

Licenses and contract agreements are applied on a case-by-case basis with full stakeholder contributions. Once the Niue guidelines are in place, the framework will be developed. Workshops and awareness programs through radio are organized for various stakeholders. These workshops engage stakeholders in developing mechanisms for dialogue on access to and protection of traditional knowledge. The Bonn Guidelines were considered when reviewing mechanisms for access and benefit-sharing.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

Niue involved various stakeholders in preparing its biosafety framework. The participation of local communities is promoted at the national level, through the NBSAP review process, national planning process and development initiatives, and at the regional level, through the South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) and the Biodiversity Roundtable.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme