Cook Islands Natural Heritage Website

This website is a companion website to the Cook Islands Biodiversity and Ethnobiology Database (CIBED). This website is a portal for information sharing through the publication of short articles showcasing Cook Islands plants, animals and other organisms. The articles also cover topics of relevance to our living world, such as geology, climatology, ethnography and conservation.

Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust

The Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust (CINHT) is a programme of the Government of the Cook Islands established to;

  1. Collect and integrate scientific and traditional information on local plants and animals; and
  2. To preserve such information, and make it available to the general public.

Originally established as the Natural Heritage Project within the Office of the Prime Minister in 1990, the Project moved into the Natural Heritage Trust when it was established in 1999 by an Act of Parliament.

The CIBED is the primary portal used by CINHT to publish species accounts for Cook Island flora fauna.

Cook Islands Biodiversity and Ethnobiology Database

The original collection of data and the development of the database on MS Access took more than a dozen years. The Bishop Museum (Honolulu), with support from PBIN, facilitated the programming of the database for the web and hosted the website. It was launched on 8 March 2003, reprogrammed and radically redesigned on 1 May 2005, and further developed 1 October 2005. The website underwent further radical redesign in 2017 in order to convert the database from a static online entity to a dynamic portal allowing for the expansion of records and greater contributions from scientific experts and local traditional knowledge holders. The GEF (Global Environment Facility) supported the 2017 redesign.

The multimedia database is designed to integrate scientific and traditional information on all the plants and animals of the Cook Islands – native and non-native; terrestrial, marine, and freshwater. The database can use a range of criteria to display subsets of species for special interest groups.

The database lists around 4,300 species (March 2021), which included most of the species known to experts and recorded in publications. We estimate there are about 3,000 more species to be recorded.

About 2,600 species have images to aid identification. Textual information is growing (slowly).