Management Action-Management

Pacific species face heightened levels of threat due to the relatively small size, fragility and rapid environmental changes from human development and invasive species in many Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

The papers in this volume were, with a few exceptions, presented at the third Island Invasives conference, held in Dundee, Scotland in July 2017. The papers demonstrate up-scaling in several aspects of eradication operations – not least in ambition, land area, operational size, global reach and of course financial cost. In the space of a few decades, the size of islands treated for invasive species has increased by five orders of magnitude – from a few hectares to over 100,000 ha or 1,000 km2.

Biological control of introduced weeds in the 22 Pacific island countries and territories (PICTs) began in 1911, with the lantana seed-feeding fly introduced into Fiji and New Caledonia from Hawaii. To date, a total of 62 agents have been deliberately introduced into the PICTs to control 21 weed species in 17 countries. A further two agents have spread naturally into the region. The general impact of the 36 biocontrol agents now established in the PICTs ranges from none to complete control of their target weed(s).

Invasive weeds are one of the most serious threats to biodiversity and sustainable development in the Pacific region. Biocontrol is likely to be the only feasible way of managing many widespread weeds, but is not always appropriate or successful. With so many weed species to tackle and inevitably limited resources, prioritising where to direct control efforts most effectively is of key importance. Landcare Research recently developed a framework for the Australian government that allows the best and worst weed targets for biocontrol to be identified.

In 2010, Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, to catalyze national and international conservation efforts and reverse negative biodiversity trends

Aerial baiting from helicopters with a bait-sowing bucket and GPS to ensure coverage with anticoagulant toxins in cereal-based baits can reliably eradicate rodents on islands. Current best practice for temperate islands is to bait in winter when the rodents are not breeding, rodent numbers are lowest so competition for toxic baits is lowest, natural food is likely to be scarce, and many non-target species are absent from the island. However, short winter day lengths at high latitudes restrict the time helicopters can fly and poor weather in winter may increase risks of failure.

Invasive rodents are present on approximately 80% of the world’s islands and constitute one of the most serious threats to island biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. The eradication of rodents is central to island conservation eff orts and the aerial broadcast of rodenticide bait is the preferred dispersal method. To improve the efficiency of rodent eradication campaigns, the generation of accurate and real-time bait density maps is required.

Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels (SSRS), launched in 2009, is a project to stop the decline of core populations of Scotland’s native red squirrel. It is a partnership project between Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust. The aim is the containment of the invasive non-native grey squirrel, which poses a dual threat to red squirrels through competition and disease transmission.

In locations with a high potential for re-invasion, such as inshore islands, sustained control of invasive species is as important as the initial knock-down for the long-term recovery of native populations. However, ongoing trap maintenance and lure replenishment are barriers to minimising the time and financial costs of long-term suppression, even when automatic traps are used.