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04.11.2014 10:25 Age: 3 yrs

Herbarium, IAS,USP To Lead Landmark Biodiversity Survey


Plans are underway to mount an expedition next year into the mountains of Guadalcanal, in what will be a landmark in the history of Pacific biodiversity research. The expedition is being coordinated by the South Pacific Regional Herbarium of USP, and will comprise taxonomic experts from the Pacific and around the world, working together to document the flora and fauna of one of the world’s most biologically diverse areas.

The highest point on the island of Guadalcanal is Mt Popomanaseu. Standing at 2335m the spot marks the highest landmass between South America and Papua New Guinea. The forests that cover this peak and the surrounding uplands contain biological communities characterised by high endemism, and in which there are potentially many species that have never been recorded by scientists before.

The biological importance of the Solomon Islands is widely recognised. The rainforests of the Solomon Islands are listed on WWF’s Global 200 ecoregions of conservation priority, and categorized both as ‘outstanding’ and as ‘Vulnerable’ (this vulnerability being primarily due to logging, and the negative impacts associated with invasive species). The Solomon Islands is also a recognized Centre of Plant Diversity, with an estimate of its floral biodiversity being 4500 species. The entire archipelago of the Solomon Islands is classified as an Endemic Bird Area, with a threat level of Critical, owing to its very high level of endemism.

USP is partnering with the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and the Solomon Islands Community Conservation Partnership (SICCP), to plan and implement the project, which is being funded primarily by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Foundation (CEPF).

At a planning meeting in June of this year project stakeholders met in Honiara to begin preparations for this historic expedition. At this meeting staff from the three project partners (SPRH, AMNH and SICCP) met with Solomon Islands government and provincial officials, NGOs, landowner representatives and staff of the Solomon Island National University. The expedition is scheduled to take place over a period of four weeks in June 2015. International taxonomic experts will work in collaboration with Solomon Island and other Pacific-based taxonomists to identify and catalogue the biological richness of this globally unique site.

For further information please contact Marika Tuiwawa, Curator of the Herbarium, IAS marika.tuiwawa@usp.ac.fj Phone: 32970.

 




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