A regional strategy is the most effective and efficient approach to the invasive species
challenges facing our islands.
Invasive species affect every nation and territory in the Pacific region. Invasive plants reduce native plant
diversity, change soil fertility, alter nutrient and water cycling and increase soil erosion. These changes, in
turn, affect native plants and animals that depend on native plants for shelter, food and reproduction. Invasive
animal species such as rats, mice, mongoose, feral goats, deer, feral pigs, ants and pest birds further degrade our
island ecosystems and impact our daily lives. Some invasive animals prey on endemic and native bird species;
rats eat native flowers, fruits and seeds. Other invasive animals trample and degrade habitats. Ants sting,
inhibit subsistence agriculture and threaten native fauna. Incursions of new introduced and invasive species
continue. Of particular concern is the spread of invasive ants, especially the Little Fire Ant and the Red
Imported Fire Ant. Recent incursions of mongoose on two islands highlight the need to strengthen Pacific
island biosecurity systems and active participation of all stakeholders.
Lack of capacity is recognised as a major obstacle to implementing effective biosecurity and invasive species
management in the Pacific Islands Countries and Territories (PICTs). This lack is also identified in the National
Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans of most Pacific island countries and further emphasised in the National
Invasive Species Strategies and Action Plans developed to date. Underlying the lack of capacity for managing
invasive species in the PICTs is geographic isolation, limited staff numbers dedicated to biosecurity and
invasive species management, limited cooperation and coordination between agencies within countries and
between countries, and limited access to legal and technical information, expertise and best practice tools that
are necessary for achieving biosecurity and invasive species management goals.
As PICTs share many invasive species problems and similar emerging threats this warrants a regional approach
to technical support and capacity development. A regional approach would ensure the much-needed
coordination and pooling together of available resources and their deployment at the national and local levels.
Much of the necessary framework is already in place. Compared with other island regions, the Pacific is at the
forefront with regards to established infrastructure for technical support and capacity development at the
regional level. This infrastructure comprises the CROP agencies (SPREP, SPC and USP), two regional
programmes (Pacific Invasive Initiative (PII) and Pacific Invasives Learning Network (PILN) and other
members of a coordinated regional network of agencies working on invasive species in the region, the Pacific
Invasives Partnership (PIP).
The majority of Pacific Island Countries and Territories have ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Under this convention, parties have agreed to meet a set of biodiversity-related targets by 2020, known as the
Aichi Targets. Strategic Goal C aims to improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species
and genetic diversity, Target 9 relates to invasive species: By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are
identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated and measures are in place to manage
pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment. Meeting this Target will remain a challenge for
most countries in the region.
The Pacific Invasive Species Capacity Development Strategy
A Capacity Development Strategy for Invasive Species Management in the Pacific was endorsed by SPREP
member countries at their 24th Annual Meeting in September 2013. This calls for increased effort to be placed
on securing new donor funds to continue the considerable gains in capacity that have been achieved in
invasive species management (including biosecurity). Fundraising efforts should promote the benefits of a
programmatic long-term approach to capacity development in the region and, in particular, the need for
adequate funding for technical support and mentoring, to build on and sustain the impressive contributions
already made by PII, PILN and other PIP members.
The PISCDS will assist in the implementation of the “Guidelines for Invasive Species Management in the
Pacific". This is a valuable document that contributes to ongoing efforts to curb the negative environmental,
social and economic impacts of invasive alien species to Pacific Island Countries and Territories. The PISCDS
identifies 13 key strategic recommendations for capacity development providers and recipients, and outlines
opportunities to strengthen existing regional capacity development programmes.
This strategy will contribute to implementation of the 2012 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Communique,
which reaffirmed the importance of dealing effectively with invasive species at both national and regional
levels and requested SPREP and SPC to increase their efforts in this area. The Strategy will support Pacific
countries commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Aichi Biodiversity Target 9) and the review
of the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans.
At the SPREP Meeting 2013 in Apia, members approved the Pacific Invasives Species Capacity Development
Strategy (PISCDS), to give support to building Pacific Islands capacity to manage invasive species. They also
encouraged members, partners and donors to support its implementation. To help accomplish this, the
members directed SPREP to develop a regional terrestrial and marine invasive species project for submission
to GEF6. The approved directive included the strengthening of SPREP’s regional support infrastructure
through greater technical support and advice, and to create standard operating procedures and training to
support countries to increase their capability and capacity in invasive species management.