Conservation action plan for the terrestrial biodiversity of Juan Fernández Islands
Priority Settings and definitions for a long term strategy
The Juan Fernandez Archipelago (JFA) is a Group of oceanic islands that have the highest density of endemic species of flora in the world (0.98 endemic species/km2), making it the highest value area in the World from a botanical perspective. This level of endemism, which makes it a veritable natural laboratory, grants to the JFA international importance for the preservation of ecological heritage. The floristic species richness of the JFA has led to it being described as the “Galapagos for plants”, with 131 endemic species identified (62% endemism).The Archipelago is likewise valued as an area of avifauna endemism, with 3 species and 4 subspecies being endemic – 45% of the endemic birds of Chile.
In relation to the flora, of 123 species that have been classified, 5 have been declared “extinct”, 72 “endangered and rare”, 21 “endangered”, and 21 “vulnerable”. It is worth noting that there are 14 plant species that have fewer than 10 individuals in the wild. The archipelago represents less than 1% of the national territory, but holds 60% of the extinct species, 55% of those classed as “endangered”, and 59% of those classified as “endangered and rare” – making it by far the area most critical of the country for flora conservation.
The principal cause of this level of extinction risk are past human activities, such as tree clearance and farming, combined with the current impact of invasive alien species of plants and animals. Particularly important in that regard are blackberry, murtilla (Ugni), maqui (Aristotelia), rodents, rabbits, goats and cats.
The high value of the biodiversity of the archipelago, combined with the significant threats it faces, make the JFA a priority site for flora and fauna conservation, not only in Chile but globally. This was confirmed by the fact that the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust rated JFA as the highest priority in its list of 100 priority eco-regions to save the planet. In addition, the archipelago forms part of the Critical Area for Conservation of Biodiversity: Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivisan Forest, one of the 32 most outstanding on the planet.
Taking into account the value of and threats to this heritage, the Biodiversity Foundation, together with CONAF, CONAMA, SAG, FIA and the Juan Fernandez municipality, is working to develop a “Plan for the Conservation of Terrestrial Biodiversity of the Juan Fernandez Archipelago”. This work will be done in several phases. The Plan will be finalised with the involvement of a range of relevant players and sectors with an interest in the archipelago: national, regional and island authorities, representatives of the productive sector, the local communities, scientists (national and international), public service agencies, etc. This process will be executed in an international workshop that will take place on 5-6 November 2009, with participation of all those relevant actors.
COMPONENTS OF THE INITIATIVE
The objective of the initiative is to develop and implement a plan for the conservation of the terrestrial biodiversity of the JFA, that will reduce the risk of extinction of the most threatened species, and strengthen institutional and financial capacity. To comply with this objective, it contemplates developing the following components:
- Compiling information: Compile and analyse existing information about the biodiversity of JFA.
- Management of species
- Flora: creation of actions plans to achieve the conservation of each priority plant species.
- Fauna: creation of actions plans to achieve the conservation of each priority animal species.
- Invasive Alien Species (IAS): creation of action plans to control or eradicate priority IAS.
- Building capacity
- Biosecurity: identify what is needed to implement a system to avoid the entry of new IAS to the archipelago.
- Conservation ex-situ: identify what is needed for the conservation and propogation ex-situ of species.
- Public awareness
- Local: work related to the control of IAS introductions
- National-Regional: work to position the archipelago as the priority for conservation.
- International: work to build awareness of and support for the archipelago.
- Framework for sustainable funding
- Seek to arrange stable resources for the implementation of the action plan.
- Institutional: agreement on and creation of an inter-institutional structure to coordinate the conservation efforts
- Management of information: good practice protocol for the management of information about the archipelago.
The “knowledge” component has been executed in the past by the Biodiversity Foundation, generating as a result a bibliography of publications related to the biodiversity of JFA.
The International Workshop will focus on two components: “Management of critical species and areas” and “Capacity building”. To achieve this, the participants will be divided into four groups: Flora, Fauna, Invasive Alien Species, and Capacity Building. The first three groups should work to revise the priority species and particularly to devise action plans for the flora, fauna and IAS. The capacity building group will define actions that will allow a biosecurity system to be implemented for the JFA, and to improve the current capacity for ex-situ conservation.