The Massif Aoupinié is located in the heart of the Central Range, straddling the line of the watershed. To the east, the slopes of Aoupinié (the highest point of the IBA is 1006 m) are the basins of the rivers Nimbaye, Mou and Monéo, while to the west, is the basin of the river Poya. This is one of the great upland forests of the Northern Province, part of which, 5,400 ha, was classified as a Special Reserve for Wildlife. This is a moist evergreen forest at low and medium altitude, rather well preserved, wholly on volcano-sedimentary soil. However, it has been exploited and continues to be to the east of the range, between 400 and 800 m in the upper basins of rivers Soft and Moneo. In this region, the forest, though dense, is of average height and devoid of remarkable trees. The foothills are covered, as everywhere, by savannah interspersed with residual forest or gallery forest pockets.
The IBA has been the subject of intensive exploration by different organisations and 63 listening points have been made. There were a total 40 of terrestrial and marine species, including the Tahiti Petrel (Pseudobulweria trouessarti rostrata). There are 24 restricted range species and 16 of the 19 endemic species on the mainland present on Aoupinie. Even if he has not been heard in ornithological studies, according to several residents of the tribes (1998, 2000 & 2003), the site is still home to the IBA Cagou. In addition, it hosts rather large populations of Columbidae: New Caledonian Imperial Pigeon, Metallic Pigeon and Cloven-feathered Dove. The New Caledonian Crow is very abundant (80% of the listening points). Many species seem poorly-represented, but it should be noted that the inventory of the area was carried out at a period considered unfavorable for bird detection and the results are likely to be biased and underestimated.
Non-bird biodiversity: Forest of Aoupinié hosts an exceptional variety of invertebrates with a high level of micro-endemism. For example, the IBA hosts a remarkable assemblage of Lepidoptera including dozens of species, many of which are endemic to this site. The herpetofauna of the massif has been fairly well studied. There are 17 species of lizards of which the small burrowing skink Nannoscincus rankini is considered endemic to high elevation forests of Aoupinié Also an isolated, population of the the skink Lioscincus steindachneri which may be a separate species from the otherpopulation known from Massif du Panie.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
One of the major issues at this site is selective logging. Ten hectares of forest have been levied annually since 1967 while, over the same period, only 40 hectares have been reforested. This activity may result in the depletion and imbalance of the forest ecosystem but also causes increased erosion problems. The mill is the only one of its kind in the Province Nord and while it is a true collective development initiative, it harms the ecological integrity of the site and should cease, subject to an alternative it is proposed. Many projects, including the sawmill, were supported by the province. It is important to focus on those whose environmental impact will be low, even beneficial, and whose operation is sustainable. Several studies have highlighted the eco-tourism potential of the site or sites of interest for reforestation of native species as a substitute for this logging, provided that the impact of deer on them is controlled. Other threats were also identified in this massif. Damage by deer and pigs are observable throughout the surveyed area and both species are abundant, especially the latter. Human use, including hunting, is considered high on the mountains. The track that allows ascent to the summit of Aoupinié for maintenance of radio relay promotes these incursions as well as all the logging roads. In the valleys, agricultural burning is causing departures uncontrolled fires which gradually reduce the boundaries of the forest. Livestock (cattle) grazing, often freely, impacts on the treeline and causes problems for revegetation. Again, it will be important to clarify whether the Cagou is present on the IBA and in which areas to prioritize actions for the conservation of the species (hunting, introduced predators, creation of tracks, ...). Other actions for the conservation of the IBA are contained in the section on general recommendations.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Aoupinié. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 16/10/2019.