Nabukelevu is a spectacular isolated mountain rising steeply from the sea in west Kadavu. Its name is said to mean ‘giant yam mound’, an accurate description of this steep-sided massif. It is an andesitic volcanic lava dome which last erupted in the Holocene. The mountain is usually shrouded in cloud and receives a high level of rainfall.
Nabukelevu is the only known nesting site in Fiji for the Polynesian Storm-petrel (dates from 1876) and one of a handful of sites for the Collared Petrel (small numbers have been recorded overhead during Collared Petrel surveys, but there are no known active nesting burrows). It supports all the four species and eight subspecies endemic to Kadavu, including good numbers of Kadavu Honeyeaters and probably the largest population of the montane Island Thrush subspecies T. p. ruficeps.
Current breeding colonies of seabirds on the headland west of Davigele and other rocky headlands are thought to be Wedge-tailed Shearwaters . Two other globally threatened species that occur on Kadavu, Friendly Ground-dove and Black-faced Shrikebill, are likely to be present in small numbers in old-growth forest at lower altitudes.
Non-bird biodiversity: Nabukelevu is believed to support several species of plants endemic to the mountain itself as the high montane plateau is unique within Kadavu. Its herpetofauna and other biodiversity are poorly known. The moth Speiredonia strigiformis was found on the peak in April 2011 as part of recent surveys for Collared Petrel. This is the first record for this spectacular species, endemic to Fiji and not recorded anywhere since the 1980s, on Kadavu.
Habitat and land use
Many of the lower slopes around Nabukelevu have been cleared for agriculture and the IBA boundary starts at the lower boundary of the forest on the west, south and east. To the north, the IBA extends down to the sea as this very steep slope supports little human activity. Nabukelevu is the only area in west Kadavu that retains extensive old-growth forest although scattered, mostly degraded, forest does extend east to connect with the old-growth forests close to Vunisea. The north slope of Nabukelevu and some upper reaches of the west and south slopes are dominated by scrubby forest on boulder-strewn steep slopes, which is probably climax vegetation for these slopes which are susceptible to land-slides. The mid-altitudes on the west, south and east slopes have old-growth lowland rainforest. This is of higher stature on flatter land but much of the area is steep and any flatter areas at lower altitude have been cleared for agriculture. The plateau and the steep upper slopes are low-stature montane forest, which show no sign of human activity except for a rarely used trail to a summit clearing.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Agriculture - Invasive Alien Species
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
There are two main threats to Nabukelevu’s birds: clearance of lower altitude forest for agriculture, and predation by invasive alien mammals. With increasing human population pressure, there is slow ongoing clearance of forest for agricultural land. People are being forced to walk further to their gardens and would welcome help to improve the productivity of land closer to the villages which should reduce the pressure for further clearance. Alternative income activities such as promoting tourist treks to the summit could help to demonstrate an economic reason for conserving the forest and its birds and relieve the agricultural expansion. It is unlikely that the limited human pressure will impact on the steep slopes and summit. However, there is evidence of feral cats on the summit and they are likely to predate any ground-nesting seabirds, notably Polynesian Stormpetrel and Collared Petrel. These seabirds urgently require surveying and may need protection against cats and other invasive alien mammals. Kadavu Shining Parrots may be affected by the collection of nestlings for local use as pets. In 2009, a model plot was set up in Lomati Village, testing methods of sustainable agriculture and inter-cropping, promoting agrofrestry methods. In the model plots, contours of pineapple, vetiver grass, kava and root crops were planted. A community-led reforestation programme was established in Lomati village. Nurseries were built for replanting of native tree seedlings. The seedlings were then replanted along the plants as a means of reforesting the Nabukelevu IBA. Status of action on Lomati village (Nabukelevu district): A site monitoring visit took place from 7-10 May 2014. Below are points made by the Site Support Group (SSG), during a discussion held on 7/05/14, facilitated by NFMV staff. *The SSGs are representatives from landowning clans (mataqali). • No further work was done on the pineapple plantations since the plantation burned down. The SSG representatives on Lomati village, admitted the burning of the pineapple plantation, had affected the whole village. Discouraged by the burnt plantations, most villagers focused more on their individual plantations and no progress was made on re-planting the pineapple suckers; • The SSGs have not been meeting; • The bee-keeping initiative (honey business) has ceased; • The yasi (sandalwood) nursery is well maintained. More yasi seedlings were planted this year. The sale of yasi plants are put into the Village Education Fund. • The SSG representatives were asked of what further initiatives would they like to see implemented in Lomati. A strong interest was shown in further venturing into poultry farming. Status of action on Daviqele village (Nabukelevu district): key observations made on Daviqele village • No pineapple plantation; • The SSGs have not been meeting; • The bee-keeping initiative (honey business) has ceased; • The yasi (sandalwood) nursery still stands. Key recommendations: • A review of actions implemented is needed. • An assessment of the community development/action/management plans need to be done. This can help gauge how the projects deliver added value to community livelihoods and natural resource base. • Local groups and the village(s) need to be involved in action planning, for improved (proactive) response to nature conservation and natural resource management. As noted in the community consultation, there was no mention of biodiversity/endemic species or even nature conservation. The discussions focused on livelihoods and income generating opportunities. It is important to link natural resources with the local social significance and the impacts of biodiversity loss will have on local livelihoods, etc. • Engage local expertise, extend network and support for local level initiatives. • Maximise the use of media for coverage of local actions/achievements. • Encouraging whole community participation in the planning community-based conservation actions. *The use of Participatory Planning tools helps support this process.
Unprotected. Site of National Significance.
Nabukelevu is under traditional ownership of local people. Daviqele, the chief village of the Nabukelevu Tikina, owns the south slope, Nabukilevuira owns the west side, and Lomati owns the north-eastern side and the summit, including the only trail to the top.