Vanua Lava is the largest of the Bank Islands. The island contains two or three volcanic craters. The most recent volcanic activity was at Mt. Suretamatai which erupted in 1965. The island summit is denuded by recent volcanic activity, but the slopes and several lower peaks are vegetated with rainforest.
Key interest is the substantial population of Vanuatu Imperial Pigeon, continued presence of Palm Lorikeet and the recent discovery of Guadalcanal Thicketbird (only the 2nd site in Vanuatu for the species - if confirmed). More recently, a breeding colony of white-necked petrel of the subspecies known as Vanuatu Petrel, was found on the island - the first known breeding location for this subspecies.
Non-bird biodiversity: Coconut crabs and Banks Fruit Bat on the island. 2 Crocodiles reportedly present in the saline swamp areas.
Habitat and land use
Forest is of medium stature with emergent trees, rich in epiphytes and abundant in ferns. On the lower slope areas the forest increases in stature and displays emergent trees, probably figs. Tree gardens and shifting cultivation with bush fallow are concentrated on the coastal and lower slope areas around the island. On the eastern side are small areas of herbaceous and woody freshwater swamps, adjacent to a saline swamp area with mangrove along a short segment of sheltered coastline.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The island has a rapidly increasing human population. They practice shifting agriculture and establish plantations, leading to clearance of forest. Cyclones degrade the forest on a regular basis. The introduction of invasive species may pose a serious threat, fire ants are already established on the island.