Dear Friends of Tetiaroa Society,
As wildfires and coral bleaching devastated even the wealthiest of places in 2019, the impacts of climate change are coming starkly into focus. With indications of the impending human and ecological disaster from global warming evident now from California to Australia, the task can seem overwhelming. Apart from lobbying governments to ramp up more than their rhetoric, what can be done?
We are writing to you about one action that could help prevent the collapse of one of the planet's richest and most important ecosystems: coral reefs. French Polynesia has been identified as one of the regions where corals are still relatively intact and stand a chance of making it through the century. But we need to maximize their capacity to withstand the coming 'storm'. Scientists and conservation agencies are excited about one new approach and we have a unique opportunity on Tetiaroa to demonstrate its efficacy.
In 2020, we are launching a major program to restore Tetiaroa’s native seabird populations, establish the atoll as a sanctuary for translocating endangered terrestrial birds, and scientifically demonstrate how invasive rodent eradication can enhance coral reef resilience to the climate emergency.
Invasive species are a leading cause of extinctions and biodiversity loss around the world. By eradicating invasive, non-native species – introduced primarily by humans – we can help prevent extinctions and protect natural biodiversity. This is well established. But now we have an opportunity to go further.
There is strong evidence to expect significant increase in coral reef resilience due to the restoration of natural levels of nutrient cycling through rat eradication and the resultant increase in seabird populations. With the scientific capacity on Tetiaroa, we have a chance to conclusively demonstrate that rat eradication represents a valuable new tool to improve the resiliency of coral reefs to warming waters and ocean acidification.
We are exceptionally well placed to mobilize the necessary team of local and international scientists. We already have a team of over 20 scientists to validate the concept and, importantly, help scale it worldwide.
This opportunity has been made possible by two of the largest donations we have ever received. Richard Bailey, President of Pacific Beachcomber, has committed $450,000 in matching funds.
Island Conservation, the world’s foremost organization in preventing island extinctions, is providing another $100,000.
We are now seeking $250,000 by year end. We hope you will join us in this effort by contributing to this important project by year end. Donations of any amount are very much appreciated. You can contribute either online at tetiaroasociety.org or by check sent to Tetiaroa Society, c/o David J. Seeley, PO Box 908, Kirkland, WA 98083-0908.
Thank you for your continued friendship and support.
All the best,