Despite being the smallest of the 34 biodiversity hotspots, New Caledonia houses 3,700 species of plants (80 percent endemic), 114 species of birds (21 percent endemic) and 71 species of reptiles (86 percent endemic), which makes the country a major global priority for biodiversity conservation.
The Mont Panié conservation and co-management project, which began in 1996 and has been supported by Conservation International (CI) since 2002, brings together traditional leaders and public authorities with the Dayu Biik association to co-manage the Mont Panié reserve.
CI has supported biological inventories and control of invasive rats and boars with innovative techniques. Local awareness building efforts that include participatory meetings and full engagement of Dayu Biik members has brought positive results including advancing efforts to improve fire use and management. Bush fires contribute to soil erosion that degrades rivers and the nearby lagoon, which in turn affects local people’s food security and the availability of good quality potable water.
In addition to bush fires, exotic invasive species such as rats, deer and boar are primary threats to New Caledonian biodiversity as well as to the ecosystem services natural areas provide. Deer and boar impact not only biodiversity but also food and health security, which are particularly fragile in the mountainous and remote areas of the country.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from forest degradation due to fire and deer are equivalent to that of all of New Caledonia’s economic activities.
Because of the strong partnerships CI has developed in New Caledonia, the government called upon CI to support the development of sustainable biodiversity conservation strategies and mechanisms to curb the threats posed by the mining industry that is active in the country. Mining contributes significantly to GHG emissions and negatively affects biodiversity.
The renewal of environmental awareness on the part of local communities has allowed for the development of an integrated approach to coastal watersheds, with strong support for including New Caledonian lagoons as World Heritage Sites. Innovative reforestation projects allow local communities to engage over the long-term while offering new, local sources of revenue for affected groups.
In New Caledonia, CI develops tools and methodologies that facilitate integrating biodiversity conservation into the policies and practices of the private sector, both at site-level and landscape-level scales. These tools include analyses to inform decision making.