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Les espèces envahissantes dans l’archipel néo-calédonien

 | 
Marie-Laure Beauvais
, 
Alain Coléno
, 
Hervé Jourdan

Part one. Synthesis and recommendations

Suggestions and recommendations1

Texte intégral

  • 1 This chapter is the tent’s summary of the scientific coordinators. It is available on the CD-ROM a (...)

1The New Caledonian archipelago is heavily dependent on the outside world for supplies of fresh and processed food. The expansion of the mining industry, trade in general and tourism is bringing in people, goods and capital equipment from all the world’s climates. This leaves the islands open to deliberate or accidental introduction of a wide variety of alien species. At any moment some of these may display invasive behaviour, with tragic consequences for the environment. Given the species-rich environment of the archipelago and its high rate of endemism, weed invasion would result in an increasingly depleted flora and seriously degraded landscape quality. The following recommendations are obviously not exhaustive; other recommendations have been made in the preceding chapters. The recommendations below seem to us to be either the most urgent or the easiest to implement.

2In this study, vertebrates have been examined in greater depth because the published information on these species is of higher quality. In the present state of knowledge, lack of data and scientific literature on invasive weeds and invertebrates means that the experts could not analyse these in the same depth.

Amass data
Take every opportunity in future to fill gaps in knowledge about alien species introduced into New Caledonia, particularly weeds and invertebrates. Data sheets have been produced on the most important ones, those that must be kept out of New Caledonia at all costs. It is recommended to use these data and to progressively update the lists of potentially invasive species, especially by reviewing the international listings.

THE QUARANTINE SYSTEM

3New Caledonia’s legal provisions for monitoring and control only enable the territory to take partial theoretical account of the problem of invasive species. It does not provide ways of addressing all the problems connected with invasive species, and there is no sufficiently coherent system for investigating and acting on these problems. The main shortcomings stem from the lack of a phytosanitary identification laboratory and quarantine station that would be effective for controlling the introduction of species considered to be useful. Setting up such a laboratory and providing staff with suit-able training seems to be a top priority, but would be a considerable financial investment.

Infrastructure for investigation and action
– Set up and equip a phytosanitary component at the DAVAR laboratory and give it the DAVAR laboratory the resources to become more efficient. It could then ensure really adequate phytosanitary control and would also be able to address the problem of invasive species.
– Introduce plant quarantine to ensure that all approved deliberate introductions are safe.
– Among other possible improvements, amend regulations so that phytosanitary control can cover products whose customs codes currently exempt them, but which may harbour insects such as cockroaches. This includes wooden packaging, corrugated cardboard etc.

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS

4Taking the problem of invasive species formally into account in an organised way requires coordination. At present, responsibility for environ-mental issues is shared between the territory- and province-level authorities. It is essential to establish coordination among all involved in environ-mental matters.

Coordinating the system for control of invasive species
A small working structure involving environmental policy makers at territory and province level should be set up, giving it a formal structure such as a scientific investment agency (GIS). Its task would be to make proposals that would be pertinent to all environmental issues and compatible with the situations on the different islands. It would also have the task of implementing collective decisions in the field and establishing links with Pacific networks, particularly those concerned with invasive species.

5At both territory and province level, some regulations need to be amended and new ones introduced. As regards applications for permission to introduce species to meet particular needs in farming, horticulture, hunting or the pet trade, the best approach is the precautionary principle: “whatever is not explicitly allowed is prohibited”. This would mean drawing up an open-ended positive list, to be progressively added to as applications to introduce new species are submitted, for whatever reasons, and the attendant risks assessed. All types of species imports connected with trade or tourism should be made as safe as possible, given that these movements are essential for New Caledonia’s economic development and cannot be outlawed.

Hints for suitable regulations on invasive species
– Adopt a principle of prior examination of each import sector, making a cost-benefit analysis (or any other suitable type of analysis) on which to base the regulatory and technical monitoring system for the accepted risk.
– Adopt an open-ended negative list of all quarantine organisms from the invasive species viewpoint.
– Set up a vigilance and warning programme based on regional systems disseminating alert lists.
– Adopt the principle that if the task of detection and monitoring is delegated to an importer or operator, that importer or operator is responsible.
– Make any new establishment conditional on creating a biodiversity monitoring station and establishing a “point zero” baseline inventory of the site’s biodiversity. This should be thorough enough to be acceptable given the resources available.

6The surveillance at entry points in external borders and transit points at inter-island borders should be handled differently. At external borders customs inspections should determine which goods require to be examined by phytosanitary officers, as is the case at present. At internal borders, the situation differs for each of New Caledonia’s three entities. As Grande Terre concentrates the most alien species, efficient, acceptable checks on interisland transfers to and from there, as is the case in Tahiti. But however vigilant the authorities are, border controls can never be sufficient. The strength of a prevention system depends on an efficient biosurveillance network.

The biosurveillance network should hinge on several complementary arrangements
– Biodiversity monitoring stations, set up to record the state of biodiversity before any new industrial, mining or commercial (especially tourist) establishment is set up.
– Ecological stations set up at sites representative of each of New Caledonia’s biotopes.
– A monitoring programme performed by identified officers (territory and province level) for field visits and possible sampling, and by scientists for laboratory examinations (staff of DAVAR or the research institutes working in New Caledonia). More staff need to be allocated to this type of operation.
– A clearly identified body (or person) to act as network coordinator.

7However, no biosurveillance system can achieve zero risk. It is therefore crucial to step in as early as possible if there is an invasion alert. The first step is to try to eradicate the species or, failing that, to set up a programme to control its spread.

Emergency measures
– Mobilise both public and private resources, especially naturalists’ clubs and societies, under a programme funded by the territory, the provinces and such bodies as the European Union, the WWF etc.
– Set up an eradication programme, under specific conditions, for potentially invasive species and invasive species that have not yet spread far.
– Set up a pest control programme to contain the spread of species that have gained too firm a foothold for eradication.

8Lastly, involving local communities is a necessary condition for the success of an operation against an invasive species, or indeed any heritage protection programme. Although there are few published impact studies on communication campaigns, some important points are worth stressing for the success of such campaigns, especially the choice of target groups.

Involving the community
– An information campaign must be part of a clearly defined pest control strategy.
– It is of prime importance to choose target groups intelligently: for example, with risks connected with mining, the rate of worker turnover must be taken into account.
– An impact assessment must be made during and after the campaign, to analyse the causes of success or failure.
– An early, systematic information campaign among schoolchildren could be organised (as has already been done in Southern Province).

FINANCING INVASIVE SPECIES CONTROL

9There are several possible ways to release the necessary resources for implementing these suggestions:

  • an environmental protection tax, part of which could be raised on imports (depending on the volume of trade) and part raised on air transport and/or added to real estate tax on buildings, for example;
  • direct contribution by tourist trade enterprises and/or new industrial enterprises, for establishing cost-benefit analyses and environmental monitoring operations;
  • payments from the New Caledonia government and province authorities;
  • targeted requests to international and world funding bodies (e.g. the European Union via the 6th FRDP’s Net-Biome project, the World Environment Fund).

10Another possible way is to design a real development policy based on protecting the natural heritage, taking advantage of this wealth for economic progress and establishing protected nature parks, as has been done by many countries where eco-tourism has developed. New Caledonia is a biodiversity hotspot, with a very wide variety of landscapes and large numbers of endemic species. It could develop eco-tourism intelligently. To do that, it should design an overall project for the archipelago, based financially on an environment fund that could be fed from a range of sources:

  • a system of taxes and subsidies on economic activities directly impacting on, involved in or affected by environmental quality;
  • voluntary or mandatory contributions from industrial projects that endanger the environment.

11That depends on political will, a dynamic institutional operator, a structured, ambitious project covering a network of intelligently managed protected areas, following examples such as Costa Rica. Projects of this type create jobs and bring in foreign currency.

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Notes

1 This chapter is the tent’s summary of the scientific coordinators. It is available on the CD-ROM added.

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