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Small Islands, Big Difference
Small Islands, Big Difference Campaign Launched at SBSTTA-16 Meeting, Quťbec, Canada

Island Conservation, a global, non-governmental organization dedicated to preventing species extinctions by removing invasive species from islands, launched a global campaign –
Small Islands, Big Difference – in Montreal, Canada in early May. The campaign is intended to prevent the extinction of vulnerable native species and support human livelihoods on islands by removing invasive alien vertebrates.

Countries from around the world convened in Montreal for the 16th meeting of the scientific and technical body that advises the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)—formally known as the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). Island Conservation and partners launched the campaign at a side event held during the SBSTTA-16 meeting. More than fifty participants from around the world attended the presentation, demonstrating their interest in and support for the campaign. Mr. Bill Waldman, Executive Director of Island Conservation, welcomed the audience and invited their active participation.

The event was opened by Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the CBD – a long-time leader on invasive alien species issues both in Brazil and South America. Executive Secretary Dias said, “Islands constitute a subset of the world that deserves special attention.” He welcomed the Small Islands, Big Difference campaign, “. . . and pledge[d] the support of the CBD Secretariat.”

Executive Secretary Dias further noted that, “Biodiversity conservation should not be viewed only from the perspective of cost, but also as an investment.” Removing invasive alien vertebrates from islands is an investment in the future of native wildlife and plants, as well as local peoples and island-based industries, such as nature-based tourism.

Seychelle’s Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States, Ronald Jumeau, at the Small Islands, Big Difference launch, remarked, “I wish you every luck with your campaign. We look forward to engaging with Island Conservation to bring your campaign to our part of the world – to the benefit of the Seychelles and the West Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge.” He also emphasized the value of the campaign to the work of the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) – a partnership-based initiative to address issues of particular importance to islands by inspiring leadership, catalyzing commitments and facilitating collaboration among all islands.
Why Islands?
While islands constitute less than 5% of the Earth’s landmass, they have been the location of more than 80% of the known species extinctions.  More than 40% of the native mammals, birds and reptiles that breed on islands have been determined to be Critically Endangered or Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Habitat destruction and invasive alien vertebrates—including rats, feral cats, goats, and donkeys—are the leading drivers of this biodiversity loss. Not only do they destroy native plants and animals, they place island peoples who depend on natural resources at risk through the reduction their livelihoods.

More than 800 successful projects to eradicate invasive alien vertebrates from islands have already been documented. Island Conservation has led the development of databases – the Threatened Island Biodiversity (TIB) Database and the Database of Island Invasive Species Extinctions (DIISE) – to help inform and prioritize future activities to build on these successes.
In the official recommendations arising from the SBSTTA meeting, Parties to the CBD recognized the importance of these databases and the Small Islands, Big Difference campaign. Island Conservation and partners in the campaign hope that this acknowledgement will eventually translate into more financial support for island nations and nations with islands to eradicate harmful invasive alien species. 

The Small Islands, Big Difference campaign will continue to develop in preparation for the CBD 11th Conference of Parties to be held in Hyderabad, India in October 2012. There Island Conservation will join with GLISPA and world leaders to promote the campaign and empower on-the-ground solutions through an Islands Summit.

Island Conservation would like to thank the CBD Secretariat, Oliver Hillel and Junko Shimura, and the GLISPA Secretariat, Kate Brown and Jessica Robbins, along with our external consultant Jamie Reaser, for their support and leadership in The Small Islands, Big Difference Campaign.
For more information and to learn how to become involved in the Small Islands, Big Difference campaign, contact Olivier Langrand, Director of Global Affairs for Island Conservation at
Draft recommendation submitted to the CBD by the Co-Chairs of Working Group II as a result of SBSTTA-16 can be viewed here or by visiting http://www.cbd.int/sbstta16/in-session/.

To read the CBD's May 2012 Newsletter on achieving Aichi Targets, click here or the image below.

You can find documents for download from the SBSTTA – 16 meeting below.
Database Postcards (click image or text to view .pdf)

Threatened Island Biodiversity Maps (click image or text to view .pdf)

World Map of Where To Work to Save Threatened Island Species

Caribbean Map of Islands in Need of Restoration

Posters (click image or text to view .pdf)

Eradicating IAV from Islands to Achieve Aichi Targets

Restoration of Island Ecosystems at Gwaii Haanas

CBD Executive Secretary BrŠulio Dias (left) with Island Conservation's Executive Director Bill Waldman (center) and Island Conservation's Director of Global Affairs Olivier Langrand at SBSTTA-16. Photo copyright Island Conservation
Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) Meeting with BrŠulio Dias. Photo copyright Island Conservation
Island Conservation's Director of Science Nick Holmes presenting at the Island Conservation Side Event during SBSTTA-16. Photo by Olivier Langrand. Copyright Island Conservation
Plenary talk at SBSTTA-16. Photo by Olivier Langrand. Copyright Island Conservation
Small Islands, Big Difference Campaign banners. Photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Service. Photo by Franz Dejon
Critically Endangered Waved Albatross on Isla de la Plata, Ecuador (one of the two islands in the entire world where it breeds). Island Conservation and local partners helped protect critical habitat for the albatross by removing invasive goats and feral cats from Isla de la Plata. Photo by Rory Stansbury. Copyright Island Conservation
Allen Cay, Bahamas is home to the Endangered Allen Cay Rock Iguana and an important population of Audubon Shearwaters. Island Conservation and the Bahamas National Trust are currently working to provide safe habitat for these species by removing invasive house mice from the cay. Photo by Aurora Alifano. Copyright Island Conservation

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