Biodiversity

The world is facing a biodiversity crisis. Nowhere is that more apparent than on oceanic islands where invasive species are a major threat for island biodiversity. Rats are one of the most detrimental of these and have been the target of numerous eradication programmes; a well-established conservation tool for island systems.

Protected areas (PAs) are a key tool in efforts to safeguard biodiversity against increasing anthropogenic threats. As signatories to the 2011–2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, 196 nations pledged support for expansion in the extent of the global PA estate and the quality of PA management.

n 2010 Parties to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed to reduce the rate ofbiodiversity loss within a decade by achieving 20 objectives that are commonly known as the Aichi Targets.

The impacts of house mice (Mus musculus), one of four invasive rodent species in New Zealand, are only clearly revealed on islands and fenced sanctuaries without rats and other invasive predators which suppress mouse populations, influence their behaviour, and confound their impacts. When the sole invasive mammal on islands, mice can reach high densities and influence ecosystems in similar ways to rats.

Following the incursion of rats (Rattus rattus) on Taukihepa (Big South Cape Island; 93.9 km²) off southern New Zealand in 1963, and the subsequent extirpation of several endemic species, the New Zealand Wildlife Service realised that, contrary to general belief at the time, introduced predators do not reach a natural balance with native species and that a safe breeding habitat for an increasing number of ‘at risk’ species was urgently needed.

Rat eradication is a highly effective tool for conserving biodiversity, but one that requires considerable planning eff ort, a high level of precision during implementation and carries no guarantee of success. Overall, rates of success are generally high but lower for tropical islands where most biodiversity is at risk. We completed a qualitative comparative review on four successful and four unsuccessful tropical rat eradication projects to better understand the factors influencing the success of tropical rat eradications and shed light on how the risk of future failures can be minimised.

The aim of this consultancy is to prepare a broad analysis of legal and institutional options for the establishment and management of Conservation Areas in fourteen independent Pacific Island countries. The full terms of reference for the consultancy are annexed at Appendix 1.