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Location Tonga, Niuas
Central coordinates 175o 38.00' West  15o 36.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 5,302 ha
Altitude 0 - 260m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Site description Niuafo’ou IBA comprises the whole island of Niuafo’ou which until recently supported the only extant population of the Tongan megapode Megapodius pritchardii. The island is an active volcano and the megapodes lay their eggs in soil heated by volcanic ducts. An island-endemic form of the Polynesian Starling Aplonis tabuensis nesiotes occurs on the island, along with two other range restricted species, the Crimson-crowned Fruit-dove Ptilinopus porphyraceus and the Blue-crowned Lorikeet Vini australis.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Tongan Scrubfowl Megapodius pritchardii resident  1991-1993  188-235 breeding pairs  unknown  A1, A2  Endangered 
Ptilinopus porphyraceus resident  1991-1993  present  A2  Not Recognised 
Blue-crowned Lorikeet Vini australis resident  1991-1993  present  A2  Least Concern 
Polynesian Starling Aplonis tabuensis resident  1991-1993  present  A2  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Lowland evergreen rain forest (tropical)  10%
Wetlands (inland) Freshwater lakes and pools  35%
Artificial - terrestrial Abandoned or fallow farmland, disturbed ground; Farmbush, fallow & ruderal land  30%
Rocky areas   25%

Other biodiversity Niuafo’ou’s biodiversity has not been well studied. There is no plant list for the island but there are no known endemic species (Whistler pers.comm. Oct.1994). Within Tonga, Niuafo'ou is well known for the fine Ta'ovala weaved from the inner bark of the Fanakio tree, Sterculia fanahio which is widely regarded to occur only on Niuafo'ou. This is true in respect of Tonga, but it is also found in Samoa, Rotuma and Niue. It is widespread on the island and will remain so as long as fruiting trees survive and the Pacific pigeon Ducula pacifica survives in numbers to distribute its seeds. Seven skinks and two geckos have been recorded on Niuafo'ou . None of these are island or Tongan endemic species but two of them Emoia nigra and E.adspersa are not found south of the Niuas (Prescott & Folaumoetu’I 2004).

References Crane, W. 1992. The Environment of Tonga: A Geography Resource. Wendy Crane Books, Lower Hutt. Goth, A. and U. Vogel. 1995. Status of the Polynesian Megapode (Megapodius pritchardii) on Niuafo’ou (Tonga). Bird Conservation International 5:117-128. Goth, A. and U. Vogel. 2001. Notes on breeding and the conservation of birds on Niuafo’ou Island, Kingdom of Tonga. Pacific Conservation Biology 5: 103-114. Jenkins, J.A.F. 1980. Seabird records from Tonga-an account based on the literature and recent observations. Notornis 27:205-235. Prescott, N. and P. S. Folaumoetu’I (Editors). 2004. Tonga Biodiversity Stocktaking. Technical Report 1 for the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. Dept. of Environment, Nuku’alofa Rinke, D. 1986. Notes on the avifauna of Niuafo’ou Island, Kingdom of Tonga. Emu 86:145-151. 1991. Birds of ‘Ata and Late, and additional notes on the avifauna of Niuafo’ou Island, Kingdom of Tonga. Notornis 38: 131-151. Rinke, D., L.H.Soakai and A.Usback. 1993. Koe Malau: Life and future of the Malau. Brehm Fund for International Bird Conservation, Bonn. Stattersfield, A.J., M.J. Crosby, A.J. Long, and D.C. Wege. 1998. Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for biodiversity conservation. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 7, BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. 846 pp. Watling, D. 2003. Report on a Visit to Late and Fonualei Islands, Vava'u Group, Kingdom of Tonga. Unpublished Report to the Van Tienhoven Foundation. Watling, D. 2004. Report on a Visit to Late Island, Vava'u Group, Kingdom of Tonga. Unpublished Report to the Van Tienhoven Foundation.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Niuafo'ou. Downloaded from on 02/10/2014

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