The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), acting as an implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), has been requested by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) to procure the services of the consultant. The objective of the IAS project is to improve the chances of the long-term survival of terrestrial endemic and threatened species on Taveuni Island, surrounding islets and throughout Fiji by building national and local capacity to manage Invasive Alien Species. Commonly referred to as the Fiji IAS Project, this is an initiative funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) over a 5-year period from 2018 – 2023 with a budget of USD 3,502,968.
Invasive alien species (IAS) are the greatest threat to biodiversity in the Pacific Islands. Numerous IAS have been introduced to Fiji, with significant impacts on natural landscapes and biodiversity. The recent introduction of Giant Invasive Iguana – GII (Iguana iguana) – to Fiji represents the first established population of this species in the Pacific and is a potential bridgehead to some of the world’s most isolated island ecosystems. GII have already caused harm throughout the Caribbean where they are spreading fast and have significant detrimental effects, including on native biodiversity, agriculture and tourism. Although there are several national and local-level initiatives to address IAS in Fiji, these efforts, lack adequate capacity and an overall comprehensive strategy to ensure a systematic and effective protection of biodiversity-rich and important areas. An effective, systematic and comprehensive eradication effort against GII, before populations grow beyond the point where they can be controlled is currently lacking and urgently needed.
The preferred solution requires a suite of preventative measures to reduce IAS incursion and establishment, that will be introduced by this project, including:
(i) Strengthened IAS policy, institutions and coordination at the national level to reduce the risk of IAS entering Fiji, including a comprehensive multi-sectorial coordination mechanism to ensure the best possible use of resources and capacities for prevention, management, eradication, awareness and restoration, and capacity building of biosecurity staff;
(ii) Improved IAS prevention and surveillance operations at the island level on Taveuni, Qamea, Matagi and Laucala to reduce potential for pest species to enter and establish within the four-island group and move between these islands;
(iii) Implementation of a comprehensive eradication plan for GII based on comprehensive survey and public outreach on Taveuni and an increase in removal effort of GII on the islands of Qamea, Matagi, and Laucala; and
(iv) Strengthened knowledge management and awareness raising that targets the public, tour operations and visitors, to safeguard the nation from IAS.
Outcome 3 focusses on long-term measures for protection of terrestrial ecosystems and their biodiversity in Taveuni, Qamea, Matagi and Laucala. The four-island site for targeted IAS efforts and also serves as a pilot to test improved biosecurity systems and processes ahead of broader application across Fiji. It is aimed at long-term measures for protection of terrestrial systems in the four-islands through the eradication of Giant Invasive Iguana (GII).
Output 3.1 A detailed eradication plan developed and implemented simultaneously on Taveuni, Qamea, Matagi and Laucala.
Output 3.2 Reduction of GII sightings/captures on Qamea, Matagi and Laucala by 50% or more by the end of the project.
An eradication plan was devised by a specialist and used as a guide for the eradication of GII, which is led by team of officers based in Qamea. A mid-term review conducted of the IAS Project recommended that this eradication plan is reviewed.
GII was introduced to Qamea around 2000. GII have since become established island- wide on Qamea and Matagi, and probably also Laucala island. They have been found in isolated incidents on Taveuni at four widely separated localities, but it is not yet known if one or more populations are established if any. This same species has become widespread throughout the Caribbean, achieves high population densities in many of these areas (i.e. populations of hundreds of thousands or millions), and is credited with a range of negative impacts, including decline of native lizards, defoliation of trees and shrubs (both native and ornamental), undermining of roads and levees through burrowing activities, power outages, and interference with flight operations at airports. Typically, GII populations have been ignored for 30–40 years before damage becomes noticeable enough for humans to become concerned – and at which point eradication is impossible. All eradication efforts are high-risk endeavors because success is never guaranteed. But the risk of taking no action and allowing GII to continue spreading throughout Fiji (and from there to other archipelagos) is much higher through reduction of food security, loss of native biodiversity, and exacerbation of climate-induced damages.