Biak-Supiori Island

NGUTIPA001
Biak-Supiori Island

Country: New Guinea

Administrative region: Papua (Province)

Central co-ordinates: 0.89334 S, 135.88111 E

Area: 2654km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species, B(ii)Site contains an exceptional number of species of high conservation importance, B(iii)Site contains an exceptional number of socially, economically or culturally valuable species

IPA assessment rationale

Biak-Supiori Island is important for its unique biodiversity. It has seven threatened species and eleven species endemic to the island. It is the only site for the Critically Endangered Nepenthes biak. The flora of New Guinea has not been well studied, but groups that have been studied e.g. palms and orchids suggest a high level of endemism. The majority of the data available is from Biak and little is known about Supiori, which is largely covered by a protected area. The lowland forest is part of the Biak-Numfoor rainforest biogeographic unit and was extensively logged suring the colonial period and some areas have been highly degraded due to clearing for cultivation by the c.100,000 people who inhabit the island. The forest is highly valued as a source of medicines, fruits, animal fodder, building materials and cultural significance. Populations of Nepenthes biak are also threatened from wild collection to sell to tourists on passing cruise ships.

Site description

Biak-Supiori Island is situated approx. 150 km east of West Papua at the edge of the Sarera Basin. The island is made up of two islands (Biak and Supiori) separated by a channel. The island is forested and has a population of c. 100,000 people, predominantly in coastal settlements. Supiori is mostly covered by protected area status. It has a small hill range with the highest point at 880 m.
It is important for its unique biodiversity. Beehler (2007: 200) recognises 13 biogeographic units for Papua. The forest is part of the Biak-Numfoor rainforest. It is reported to have been logged extensively during the colonial period and some areas have been highly degraded due to clearing for cultivation and logging by the local population.

Botanical significance

Biak-Supiori Island is known to have a high biodiversity and is home to seven threatened species and eleven species endemic to the site and several New Guinea endemic species including Critically Endangered species Nepenthes biak and Madhuca boerlageana. Knowledge of plant species in Papua was so incomplete that Beehler was not able to draw upon any data for his paper.
One of the best studied plant groups in New Guinea are the palms (Palmae or Arecaceae). Although there is no overview of palm biogeography for Papua, the palm flora of Biak has been studied by Baker & Heatubun (2012). Among the 19 species that are recorded, four are endemic to Biak-Supiori. Five endemic orchid species and the carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes biak Jebb & Cheek (Cheek et al. 2018) are also restricted to this TIPA. Almost nothing is know about the flora of the higher parts of Supiori Island. Undoubtedly additional Biak-Supiori endemic plant species will be discovered as the botanical knowledge of Papua increases.
Most of the endemic species have been recorded in the settled SE part of Biak, suggested here as a buffer zone, and it is not known if the only protected area on Biak, the Biak Utar Nature Reserve, close to the bridge with Supiori Island, contains these species, nor in fact whether indeed the species extend to Supiori Island, or the other islands in the Kepulauan Biak (also known as the Schouten, formerly Geelvink) group, which include Numfoor.
In addition, the local population highly value the plant species for medicines, animal fodder and fruits. A total of 84 species have been recorded as having a socio-economic value.

Habitat and geology

Most of the islands, and certainly the SE portion of Biak, are comprised of soils over coral rag (limestone). The limestone is exposed as low coastal cliffs in some areas. Endemic species such as Nepenthes biak are considered to be possible limestone endemics (Cheek et al. 2018). The vegetation consists of lowland evergreen forest which in the settled part contains smallholder agriculture. The altitude of Biak does not exceed 300 m. Supiori Island has intact vegetation and rises to 900 m alt. likely containing cloud forest.

Conservation issues

Biak is relatively densely populated. It is reported as having been extensively logged in colonial times. Forest has also been cut down to clear land for planting (Wikramanayake 2002: 551). Nepenthes biak (Cheek et al. 2018) is threatened by collection from the wild for sales to passengers on cruise ships which call in at Biak, observed firsthand by McPherson (2009: 1061). Manjekia, the monotypic endemic palm, is traditionally used for floorboards and pillars in house construction on Biak, but is now Endangered (Heatubun et al. 2014).

Ecosystem services

The forest of the island is a source of food, animal fodder, medicines and raw materials. The forest sequesters carbon and the it harbours a high diversity of plants, birds and mammals.

Site assessor(s)

Lizzie Roeble, RBG Kew

Andre Schuiteman, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Charlie Heatubun, The Provincial Government of West Papua and Universitas Papua

Jimmy Wanma, State University of Papua

Rodrigo Camara Leret, University of Zurich

Martin Cheek, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Charlotte Couch, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

IPA criterion A species

Species Qualifying sub-criterion ≥ 1% of global population ≥ 5% of national population 1 of 5 best sites nationally Entire global population Socio-economically important Abundance at site
Nepenthes biak Jebb & Cheek A(i) True True True False False Scarce
Hydriastele biakensis W.J.Baker & Heatubun A(i) True True True False True
Guioa venusta Radlk. A(i) True True True False False
Madhuca boerlageana (Burck) Baehni A(i) True True True False True
Intsia bijuga (Colebr.) Kuntze A(i) True True True False True
Flindersia pimenteliana F.Muell. A(i) True True True False False
Manjekia maturbongsii (W.J.Baker & Heatubun) W.J.Baker & Heatubun A(i) True True True False False

Nepenthes biak Jebb & Cheek

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Scarce

Hydriastele biakensis W.J.Baker & Heatubun

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:

Guioa venusta Radlk.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Madhuca boerlageana (Burck) Baehni

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:

Intsia bijuga (Colebr.) Kuntze

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:

Flindersia pimenteliana F.Muell.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

Manjekia maturbongsii (W.J.Baker & Heatubun) W.J.Baker & Heatubun

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:

General site habitats

General site habitat Percent coverage Importance
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland Forest No value Major

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Land use types

Land use type Percent coverage Importance
Nature conservation No value Minor

Nature conservation

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Threats

Threat Severity Timing
Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting Unknown Past, likely to return
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming Medium Ongoing - increasing
Biological resource use - Gathering terrestrial plants - Intentional use (species being assessed is the target) Medium Ongoing - increasing
Residential & commercial development - Housing & urban areas Low Ongoing - trend unknown
Agriculture & aquaculture - Livestock farming & ranching - Scale Unknown/Unrecorded Unknown Ongoing - trend unknown

Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting

Severity:
Unknown
Timing:
Past, likely to return

Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Biological resource use - Gathering terrestrial plants - Intentional use (species being assessed is the target)

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Residential & commercial development - Housing & urban areas

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Agriculture & aquaculture - Livestock farming & ranching - Scale Unknown/Unrecorded

Severity:
Unknown
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Protected areas

Protected area name Protected area type Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Pulau Supiori Strict Nature Reserve National Nature Reserve IPA encompasses protected/conservation area 420
Biak Utara Strict Nature Reserve National Nature Reserve IPA encompasses protected/conservation area 61

Pulau Supiori Strict Nature Reserve

Protected area type:
National Nature Reserve
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
420

Biak Utara Strict Nature Reserve

Protected area type:
National Nature Reserve
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
61

Bibliography

Cheek, M., Jebb, M., Murphy, B., & Mambor, F., 2018

Nepenthes section Insignes in Indonesia, with two new species.

Blumea - Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants, Vol 62, page(s) 174-178

Baker, W.J. & Heatubun, C.D., 2019

Hydriastele biakensis

Available online

van Welzen, P.C., 1998

Guioa venusta

Available online

Eddowes, P.J., 1998

Madhuca boerlageana

Available online

Heatubun, C. D., Zona, S., & Baker, W. J., 2014

Three new genera of arecoid palm (Arecaceae) from eastern Malesia.

Kew Bulletin, Vol 63 (pub. Springer London), page(s) 9525

World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 1998

Intsia bijuga

Available online

Eddowes, P.J., 1998

Flindersia pimenteliana

Available online

Cámara-Leret, R., Raes, N., Roehrdanz, P., De Fretes, Y., Heatubun, C.D., Roeble, L., Schuiteman, A., Van Welzen, P.C & Hannah, L., 2019

Climate Change Threatens New Guinea’s Biocultural Heritage.

Science Advances, Vol 5

Cámara–Leret, R., & Dennehy, Z., 2019

Indigenous Knowledge of New Guinea’s Useful Plants: A Review

Economic botany, Vol 73, page(s) 405–415

Baker, W. J., & Heatubun, C. D., 2012

New palms from Biak and Supiori, Western New Guinea.

Palms, Vol 56 (pub. International Palm Society Inc), page(s) 131-150 Available online

Heatubun, C.D., Zona, S. & Baker, W.J., 2014

Three new genera of arecoid palm from eastern Malesia

Kew Bulletin, Vol 65

Arobaya, A.Y.S. & Pattiselanno, F., 2010

Hutan mangrove dan kelompok etnis di Papua: Bentuk pemanfaatannya oleh masyarakat lokal

Biota, Vol 15

Wahyudi, M., 2014

Pemanfaatan Vegetasi Mangrove sebagai Obat-obatan Tradisional pada Lima Suku di Papua (Utilization of Mangrove Vegetation as Tradisional Medicines for Five Ethnics Groups in Papua)

Biota, Vol 19, page(s) 1-8

Mahmud, M., 2011

Vegetasi Mangrove sebagai Bahan Makanan pada Empat Suku di Papua (Mangrove Vegetation as Foods amongst Ethnics in Papua).

Biota, Vol 16, page(s) 88-94

Oomen, 1971

Ecology of Human Nutrition in New Guinea: evaluation of subsistence patterns

Ecology of Food and Nutrition, Vol 1, page(s) 1-16

Beehler, B.M., 2007

Papuan Terrestrial Biogeography, with special references to birds

The Ecology of Papua. (pub. Periplus Editions. The Ecology of Indonesia Series – Vol. VI.), page(s) 196–206

Wikramanayake, E.D., 2002

Terrestrial Ecoregions of the Indo-Pacific: A Conservation Assessment.

Recommended citation

Lizzie Roeble, Andre Schuiteman, Charlie Heatubun, Jimmy Wanma, Rodrigo Camara Leret, Martin Cheek, Charlotte Couch (2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Biak-Supiori Island (New Guinea). https://tipas.kew.org/site/biak-supiori-island-2/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)