The Cabinet Ministers of the Niue Government has approved the HuvaluConservation Area Management Plan for Niue’s only terrestrial conservation areaofabout 6000 acres (20%) of Niue’s total land mass on the eastern side of Niue. This conservation area was established in 1992and the arrival of the Ridge to Reef project in 2016 elevated the importance and the need to have a Management Plan for the conservation of Niue’s biodiversity by ways of regulation tomitigate the impact of climate change including any human intrusion into the area. This significant achievement allows Niue to be a memberof the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) where it can access for some assistance if and when required for the continued management of the area.
The Huvalu Conservation Area is in category 6 of the IUCN category list where a ‘proportion of the land mass remains in its natural condition’. This is endorsed by Niue at national level where the two protected areas are classified as category 1; ‘protected from all but light human use in order to preserve the geological and geomorphic features of the area and its biodiversity’. These areas provide ideal pristine environment where and has spiritual/cultural significance for the surrounding communities that aligns with the area’s conservation, regulations, and management objectives.
These protected areas within the conservation area has its own significance as habitat areas for two of Niue’s most important species – the uga and the peka. These two species contribute to Niue’s healthy biodiversity and the Niue government’s conservation regime followed the reports compiled by the Ridge to Reef’s Responsible Partners various surveys undertaken by the project; the Ecological Survey, plus the Peka and Uga counting surveys.
The above pictures were taken at the Matavai Resort after the completion of the draft copy that was signed off by the Acting Premier Hon. Billy Graham Talagi, in September 2019.
This huge pristine tropical rainforest is a major source of wildlife and has two ‘protected areas’ within it that was and still is traditionally observed with strict cultural observations being introduced by those from the two villages who initiated the conservation concept. So in recognition of this concept, the two adjoining villages, in collaborations with some key government entities agreed to create a buffer zone for the two areas so people can be aware of the protection protocols to be observed. These protected zones also housed two roosting places for the ‘peka’ and with the hurricanes/cyclones damage plus the effect of the climate change over the years, the Management Plan would alleviate some of the intricacies of having to disturb the unique features of the forest that extends down to the sea – it’s these features that guarantee the sustainability of the biodiversity and ecosystem services of the area that would also benefit the whole of Niue as various species in the area can spread into other areas in Niue or species outside these protected areas can go in there to rejuvenate undisturbed in natural surroundings.
Huvalu Conservation Area is a community project supported by the South Pacific Regional Environment Program with the efforts of protecting the nature from the globalization and climate change. Protecting and conserving the nature being the major focus– something the Project Director, Dr Josie Tamate acknowledged as important ‘to capture the interests of all users in the Management Plan while noting what vision Niue has about the increased use of the land and loss of biodiversity’.
Another notable outcome of this concept was the two communities, Liku and Hakupu’s decision to include their villages in the Huvalu Conservation Area. So with the Huvalu Conservation Area Management Plan in place, the two villages, with their ownterrestrial and marine Management Plans in process has added considerable strength to the Ridge to Reef project objectives for a ‘Prosperous Niue’ specified by the Niue National Strategic Plan. This is in addition to other significant biodiversity conservation-related achievements by the Ridge to Reef project so far in Niue.
This Management Plan is a ‘living document’ where adjustments can be amended to accommodate any evolution that may occur.