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Island Biodiversity

Since its establishment the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) has worked to raise awareness on environment issues across the region and help empower others to do the same. Through our monthly message in the Islands Business magazine, we have been able to raise awareness in one sweep across the vast area of the Pacific. This has always had the support of the late Ms. Laisa Taga, Group Editor in Chief for Islands Business International, who passed away in April. We at SPREP would like to extend our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Ms. Taga, an exceptional and dedicated Journalist and Editor, who worked with SPREP to help raise awareness and share environment information.

This column about protecting our biodiversity is dedicated to Ms. Taga. Her legacy to nature conservation lives on through our columns. May she Rest in Peace. May 22 – the International Day of Biodiversity – provides an opportunity to pay special tribute to our unique Pacific biodiversity. Biodiversity refers to all the different plants, animals and people that form our living world. Indeed, it is essentially a synonym of ‘Life on Earth.’ This year’s international theme is “Island Biodiversity,” a celebration of our island biodiversity, critically relevant for all of us in the Pacific.

The Pacific Islands region covers 32 million square kilometres and is one of the most biologically rich regions on Earth. Incredibly diverse ecosystems occur on and around the 30,000 islands that make up the region’s two per cent of land. The huge expanse of ocean supports the most extensive and diverse coral reefs in the world, the largest tuna fishery, the deepest oceanic trenches and the healthiest and in some cases, largest remaining populations of many globally rare and threatened and migratory species including whales, sea turtles, and dugongs. The Pacific is home to a high proportion of endemic plant and animal species. However, Pacific Island biodiversity is under intense pressure from natural and human-induced disturbance, alien species introductions, population growth and other factors, and its indigenous plants and animals are among the most highly threatened in the world.

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