Invasive Species Threaten Globally Important Seabirds in Kiribati

[IISD SDG Hub] To tackle the threat that invasive species pose to endemic species, Kiribati has developed the National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2020 (NISSAP), which states that Kiribati is currently addressing some of the issues associated with invasive species “outstandingly well,” especially in the Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA) and on the atoll of Kiritimati (Christmas Island).

Along with the NISSAP, an outline for a Proposed Eradication of Feral Cats from Malden Island and Guidelines for Monitoring Birds and Invasive Species at Kiritimati have been developed.

The efforts to address invasive alien species outlined in these documents are important for reaching SDG Target 15.8 on introducing measures to prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and controlling or eradicating the priority species by 2020. They also contribute to achieving Article 5.1 of the Noumea Convention for the Protection of Natural Resources and Environment of the South Pacific Region and Related Protocols on ensuring sound environmental management and development of natural resources.

According to the ‘Guidelines for Monitoring Birds and Invasive Species at Kiritimati, Kiribati,’ the country is home to a diverse flora and fauna, including 21 breeding sea bird species, many of which are considered globally important and two of which are under threat of extinction, in part due to invasive species, including two species of rat and feral cats. Other threats to sea birds include poaching, pollutants from commercial fishing and potential impacts of climate change on food availability and the quality of nesting areas.

The Guidelines were initially created by the Wildlife Conservation Unit in 2012 and updated in 2018, with support from conservation biologists Pierce, Brown and VanderWerf to help manage and monitor birds and invasive species on Kiritimati. These efforts are especially important for the Kiritimati populations of endangered species such as the Phoenix Petrel (Te Ruru), the White-throated Storm-Petrel (Te Bwebwe ni Marawa), and the vulnerable Christmas Island Warbler (Te Bokikokiko), with Kiritimati being the stronghold for all three of these species.

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Source: IISD SDG Hub

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