British Indian Ocean Territory Ecosystem Action Plan: Native Woodland

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Taxonomy and species distribution follow POWO (1). Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland Forest within this EAP is defined as native woodland in which at least one of the following native tree species are the dominant community: Ochrosia oppositifolia (Lam.) K.Schum., Cocos nucifera L., Cordia subcordata Lam., Calophyllum inophyllum L., Hernandia nymphaeifolia (C.Presl.) Kubitzki, Barringtonia asiatica (L.) Kurz, Intsia bijuga (Colebr.) Kuntze, Ceodes grandis (R.Br.) D.Q.Lu, Guettarda speciosa L. and Heliotropium arboreum (Blanco) Mabb.. The mangrove Lumnitzera racemosa Willd. is native to the Chagos Archipelago but is not considered in this EAP. C. nucifera is native but has been extensively farmed throughout the entire archipelago in plantations (IUCN Vegetation Category 14.3), these abandoned monoculture stands are not considered native woodland. Along shorelines and on islands where storm surges have clearly pushed coconuts inland enabling colonisation, such as on Diego Garcia around Barton Point, South Brother and Nelson’s Island, they are considered native. Native woodland covers 11.53 km2 of the terrestrial landmass (c. 23% of the total landmass of the archipelago) of which 9.6 km2 is found on Diego Garcia. Native trees provide critical nesting habitat for red-footed booby (Sula sula) and lesser noddy (Anous tenuirostris), both of which are present in internationally significant numbers triggering IUCN Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) status for the hosting islands [2]. There is irrefutable evidence that native woodland was once much more extensive in the Chagos Archipelago and most of their loss was caused due to clearing of native woodland for coconut plantations, with smaller losses for hardwood timber [3, 4]. Restoration or rehabilitation of damaged or degraded habitat is an environmental goal within the management plan for the Chagos Archipelago [5]. Island ecological rehabilitation through converting former coconut plantations to native woodlands (and other ecosystems) should be a top priority for the BIOT Administration.


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StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 2020
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