New Caledonia is considered a biodiversity ‘hotspot’, having, for its size, a remarkably unique and diverse flora and fauna (8) (9) (10). Of the 3,000 or so plant species, over 74 percent are endemic (8) (9), as are all but one of 44 conifer species (6) (9). Two thirds of the world’s Araucaria species are also unique to this island (2) (5) (9). However, the protected area network on New Caledonia is not currently representative of this diversity, and most of the island’s native plants, including Araucaria rulei, do not occur in any protected areas. In addition, very few existing reserves are covered by any mining regulations (8) (9). Conservation priorities therefore include the expansion of New Caledonia’s protected area network, with the creation of new, more representative reserves, as well as a ban on mining within these areas (6) (7) (8) (9). More effective fire control, public education programmes, the control of invasive species, and the potential development of ecotourism have also been recommended (6) (7) (9).
Specific conservation measures recommended for Araucaria rulei include the establishment of a reserve for the species, for example at the Boulinda Massif, where a significant population occurs (6) (7). Attempts have been made to help this species recolonise areas of mine spoil, and have so far shown good results (1) (7). Mining is also now being more strictly controlled (1), bringing hope for the recovery of this unusual and unique conifer.