Research Article

New Caledonia – a conservation imperative for an ancient land

R. A. Mittermeiera1, T. B. Wernera2 and A. Leesa3

a1 President, Conservation International, 1015 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA and Department of Anatomical Sciences, Health Sciences Center, State University of New York, NY 11794-8081, USA.

a2 Director, Melanesia Program, Conservation International, 1015 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA.

a3 Melanesia Program Manager, Conservation International/Maruia Society, 143 Bethells Road, Henderson, Auckland 8, New Zealand.


When Myers (1988) published his first overview of threatened hotspots for conservation of biodiversity world-wide, most of the 10 areas he selected (for example, Madagascar, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, the eastern slope of the Andes) were already known to be critically important. However, one of his hotspots, the small island territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, was an unexpected inclusion in the global priority list. Although well known to botanists as a living museum of unique and ancient plants, and to marine biologists as the site of the world's second largest coastal barrier reef, New Caledonia had been largely overlooked by the international conservation community. None the less, it ranks as one of the world's most endangered biodiversity hotspots and requires an immediate and substantial commitment of conservation resources.