Suva, Fiji. On Monday 6th July 2015, the second Pacific Islands Species Forum (PISF) was opened at the University of the South Pacific.
The Forum brought together local, regional and international scientists, researchers, policy-makers, governments and conservation experts to discuss the challenges facing Pacific Islands’ precious species and ecosystems. As well as hearing about recent research, the Forum heard from country representatives on the status of national species and ecosystem conservation.
In opening the Forum, Helen Pippard, Species Officer at IUCN’s Oceania Regional Office, highlighted the high quality research that is taking place in the region, but stressed the need for more: “There is so much fantastic work happening, but there are many gaps in our knowledge - for example, the IUCN Red List (the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animals, plants and fungi), contains species assessments for only 10% of known species in the Pacific Islands. To make informed decisions about our biodiversity, we need sound knowledge about species and their conservation status”.
While our knowledge of species may be incomplete, new scientific findings and updated species assessments help to generate biodiversity data for the Pacific Islands. Participants of the Forum heard from passionate scientists and practitioners from various organizations such as IUCN, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Michigan, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the University of Queensland, all of whom presented exciting findings from the Pacific, like the recently re-discovered Monkey-faced bat on Kolombangara Island, Solomon Islands.
The road from data to action appears long: “How do we get better at linking science and policy?” asked Randy Thaman, Professor of Geography at the University of South Pacific (USP). This Forum provided a starting point in the form of a much needed platform to discuss the management and storage of data and importantly to gain government perspectives. Participants heard from country representatives from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji on their need for species data, and progress with meeting their commitments to international conventions and regional and national strategies. The need for us to keep talking to one another and feed information to policy makers was stressed: “We need to work collaboratively, get our results published and share information with wider audiences, so that we might translate all of this vital data into policy and conservation actions on the ground”, said Helen Pippard.
The Pacific Islands Species Forum was organized by IUCN in partnership with the Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation, IUCN's Species Survival Commission and hosted by the University of the South Pacific.
For more information, contact Helen Pippard, Species Officer at IUCN Oceania Regional Office, [email protected]