Developing a conservation plan for the threatened Fiji endemic Yanita

Dry forest is the most threatened habitat in Fiji with only 2% of dry forest cover remaining. Dry forests are under threat from uncontrolled fire during the dry season, and through land use conversion mainly for agriculture. In 2016-2017 Botanic Gardens Conservation International held training workshops on plant conservation and Red Listing in Fiji. During the training, conservation priorities and actions were identified for threatened tree species and capacity was built for conservation assessment and restoration of dry forest habitats, including in situ and ex situ conservation strategies. Awareness of conservation of endemic trees has been raised in local communities. Red List assessments were carried out for 32 endemic tree species. In addition, data was gathered through field surveys for DD species. For two priority species, profiles including conservation recommendations were developed.

During the project Red List workshop held in July 2016, the conservation assessment of endemic and threatened Fiji trees was carried out.

Pterocymbium oceanicum, or Yanita or Ma, an endemic tree to Fiji was assessed as Critically Endnagered and during creation of a species profile was identified as a priority for conservation action.

Yanita, Pterocymbium oceanicum status on the IUCN Red List

There are believed to be fewer than 250 mature individuals of the species, however remaining populations and their distribution are very poorly known. The species was heavily exploited for timber, particularly for bridge building, and is currently known from a restricted range on just two islands. Little is known about the reproduction or ecological roles of the species and the species has not been protected in situ or through ex situ measures

Project objectives

1. To improve knowledge of the status and distribution of remaining populations of P. oceanicum on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu;

2. To secure the species in genetically representative ex situ conservation and reinforcement collections in Fiji;

3. To develop a national species recovery and management plan for P. oceanicum in Fiji.

Expected results/outcomes

  • A comprehensive report on status and distribution of P. oceanicum in Fiji;
  • Species present in at least three conservation collections (botanic gardens and Forestry nurseries) representing the genetic diversity on Viti Levu and Vanua Levu (approximately 500 individuals);
  • A written species recovery and management plan for P. oceanicum

Year 1 (2019)

  • Surveys on Vanua Levu and Viti Levu to establish current status and distribution of P. oceanicum;
  • Collection of ex situ material (seed and cuttings) and propagation in forestry nurseries, public parks, forest reserves and botanic gardens in Fiji;
  • Collection of data and stakeholder engagement in preparation for development of national species recovery and management plan.

Year 2 (2020)

  • Documentation of propagation protocol and monitoring of ex situ collections;
  • Hold meeting to develop species recovery and management plan with local community, forestry department, botanic garden, university and NGO staff.

Year 3 (2021)

> Finalise and implement national species recovery and management plan, including in situ protection, ex situ collection duplication and population reinforcement as necessary

For more information and updates on the project, contact [email protected]

Collaborators

NatureFiji-MareqetiViti is privileged to have the guidance and support of Dr. Gunnar Keppel of the University of South Australia on the design of the assessment methodologies, documentation and analysis of the data.