New Caledonia has a protected area network covering 4,192 km², or 22 percent of its land. However, the 24 reserves that are classified in IUCN categories I to IV cover a mere 497 km² (2.6 percent of the land). Furthermore, 83 percent of the territory's threatened plant species do not occur in any protected area. The extremely rare sclerophyllous forest and the low to mid-altitude maquis vegetation types are almost totally unprotected.
Many new reserves are needed to protect the threatened species and ecosystems of New Caledonia adequately, and there are a number of problems within existing reserves. The lack of effective management for protected areas and the dismal enforcement of protective legislation are two such challenges. Only half of the existing parks have any restrictions on mining within their boundaries, and the remaining ones are open to mining activities. There is little conservation awareness among the population of New Caledonia, particularly with respect to the terrestrial environment. Funding conservation work in the hotspot is difficult, because agencies like the World Bank and the European Union will not designate money for work in New Caledonia, which is technically part of France. France, recently, has made the conservation needs of the island a priority.
Few international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are active in New Caledonia, but a small number of local NGOs, including Association pour la Sauvegarde de la Nature Neo-Calédoniènne, have spent considerable effort promoting conservation in the territory. More recently, international NGOs have also become involved in New Caledonia. WWF has worked since 1997 with local partners to implement a sclerophyllous forest conservation program. BirdLife International has begun a two-year Important Bird Area assessment, and Conservation International has supported the Maruia Society's effort to implement local conservation in the Mt. Panié massif. A collaboration between the Maruia Society, CI, and the Government of Province Nord, the Mt. Panié project aims to conserve biodiversity of the area by targeting threats to biodiversity (mainly fires and invasive species) and involving local people in management activities including locally controlled toursm development.
Important steps towards achieving conservation goals in the hotspot include the identification and conservation of Key Biodiversity Areas within the hotspot; a rapid assessment of existing protected areas and other natural areas; legislation and policies to promote conservation and sustainable resource management; creation of models for co-management between local communities and government; increased education and public awareness; strengthening of existing legislation; creation of new policies and protected areas; and strict control of invasive species.