Island Conservation, Re:wild, and UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in collaboration with a consortium of Island-Ocean Connection Challenge (IOCC) partners, proudly announce the confirmation of the next eight island-ocean ecosystems. 

Today, the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge (IOCC), a catalytic global initiative to begin the holistic restoration of 40 island-ocean ecosystems by 2030, announces eight newly confirmed projects, representing diverse communities and ecosystems. The eight island-ocean ecosystems are: 

  • Alto Velo Island, Dominican Republic 
  • Bikar Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands  
  • Bokak Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands  
  • Catalina Island, Dominican Republic 
  • Jemo Island, Republic of the Marshall Islands  
  • Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, UK  
  • Savana Island, US Virgin Islands 
  • Tintamarre Island, Saint-Martin, France

The IOCC brings together scientific monitoring, restoration, and rewilding efforts on islands across the globe to accelerate ecosystem recovery. Holistically restoring islands results in remarkable benefits to wildlife, oceans, and communities. With these eight ecosystems added, the IOCC now has 17 confirmed projects, almost halfway to their goal of 40 island-ocean ecosystems by 2030.  

“This expansion of the IOCC portfolio marks a significant milestone in the growing recognition of the importance of restoring these island-ocean ecosystems for both nature and people,” stated Dr. Penny Becker, vice president of conservation at Island Conservation. “By working collaboratively and linking resources and expertise across the globe, we are amplifying the many benefits of holistic restoration to have a global impact for our planet.” 

The restoration and rewilding initiatives planned for these island-ocean ecosystems takes a comprehensive approach, including the removal of invasive species, reintroduction of native flora and fauna, habitat restoration, and the protection of critical marine and terrestrial habitats. These endeavors are poised to deliver substantial ecological, social, and economic benefits to local communities while bolstering climate resilience. 

“SOH Conservación is thrilled to be a part of the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge,” said Jorge Luis Brocca, Executive Director of SOH Conservación leading work on IOCC island Alto Velo, Dominican Republic. “SOH has worked in the Caribbean region, especially in Hispaniola, for more than 20 years, restoring habitat, evaluating populations, conserving unique places and helping the Ministry of the Environment preserve the protected areas of the Dominican Republic. Through the IOCC, SOH Conservación envisions a future where islands in the Dominican Republic and surrounding ocean flourishes for generations to come.” 

Island communities have long managed their natural resources from ridge-to-reef. As connector species like seabirds and turtles that link the land and the sea rebound and nutrient cycles are restored, these rewilded islands become focal points for biodiversity recovery, fostering healthy marine environments and resilient coastal communities. Scientific research underscores the profound impact of integrated conservation efforts on marine and terrestrial ecosystems.  

“By measuring the impact of our restoration and rewilding efforts on the land and in the sea, we can quantify the benefits these connector species bring and make informed decisions for the future of islands, oceans and communities,” emphasized Dr. Stuart Sandin, director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, whose team is conducting marine monitoring to measure recovery and resilience throughout the rewilding process. “This will be the first time ever this has been done across a variety of ecosystems” 

The IOCC is committed to expanding its network of island-ocean ecosystems and invites interested parties worldwide to join us in advancing nature-based solutions and securing the health of our planet for generations to come. 

“These new projects represent a significant step forward in our efforts to restore and rewild island-ocean ecosystems across the globe,” affirmed Dr. Wes Sechrest, chief scientist and CEO of Re:wild. “Through collaborative action, we can unlock the full potential of the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge and create a more resilient and biodiverse world.” 

For further details on the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge and to learn more about our expanding portfolio of restoration projects, visit www.jointheiocc.org. 

 

Contact:

Sally Esposito 

Island Conservation, Strategic Communications Director 

Sally.esposito@islandconservation.org 

 

Devin Murphy 

Re:wild, Associate Director of Media Relations 

dmurphy@rewild.org 

Lauren Fimbres Wood 

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Director of Strategic Communications 

Lmwood@ucsd.edu
 

Resources: Photos, Project Information, Social Media Toolkit, Interviews by request 

Island-Ocean Connection Challenge Partners and Supporters: 

Founding partners, Island Conservation, Re:wild and Scripps Institution of Oceanography launched the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge in April 2022 at the Our Ocean conference in Palau with the Republics of Panama and Palau with supporters including the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Oceankind, Danny Faure Foundation, Cookson Adventures, the Leo Model Foundation, Marisla Foundation, the Oceans Finance Company, Salesforce, and North Equity Foundation. Over the past year, the campaign welcomed new partners American Bird Conservancy, Birdlife International, Birdlife South Africa, Charles Darwin Foundation, Fundacion Dominicana de Estudios Marinos (FUNDEMAR), Galapagos Conservation Trust, Journeys with Purpose, Marshall Islands Conservation Society (MICS), Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA), Mouse-free Marion, OneReef, Rare, Réserve Naturelle Nationale de Saint-Martin, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, Sociedad Ornitológica de la Hispaniola (SOH Conservación), and U.S. Virgin Islands-Department of Fish and Wildlife. Additional partners IOCC partners include Ebiil Society, Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie Manu, Tetiaroa Society, and the governments of Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Sonsorol State, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. 

About the Founding Partners  

Island Conservation  

Island Conservation envisions a world filled with vibrant biodiversity, resilient oceans, and thriving island communities. We are the only international non-profit conservation organization with the mission to restore islands for nature and people worldwide. Islands are special places that provide outsized returns on our conservation investments. Island Conservation is committed to holistic island-marine ecosystem restorations that combine efforts to improve community livelihoods and climate resiliency, manage invasive species, and reestablish native animals and plants. Learn more about us at www.islandconservation.org. 

Re:wild  

Re:wild protects and restores the wild. We have a singular and powerful focus: the wild as the most effective solution to the interconnected climate, biodiversity and human wellbeing crises. Founded by a group of renowned conservation scientists together with Leonardo DiCaprio, Re:wild is a force multiplier that brings together Indigenous peoples, local communities, influential leaders, nongovernmental organizations, governments, companies and the public to protect and rewild at the scale and speed we need. Learn more at rewild.org.  

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego  

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego is one of the world’s most important centers for global earth science research and education. In its second century of discovery, Scripps scientists work to understand and protect the planet, and investigate our oceans, Earth, and atmosphere to find solutions to our greatest environmental challenges. Scripps offers unparalleled education and training for the next generation of scientific and environmental leaders through its undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs. The institution also operates a fleet of four oceanographic research vessels, and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps, the public exploration center that welcomes 500,000 visitors each year. 

Additional quotes:  

Alto Velo, Dominican Republic 

“It is exciting to see support for restoration work like what is happening on Alto Velo Island. It takes bold steps to counteract what we have already lost and to help native wildlife rebound. Based on hundreds of similar island-focused conservation projects around the world, we know that the removal of invasive mammal species will benefit the biodiversity on Alto Velo – from endemic lizards to seabirds to coastal waters – and continue to compound in ways that enable the island to recover.” 

 – Brad Keitt, Oceans and Islands Director at American Bird Conservancy 

Tintamarre Island, Saint-Martin, France 

“Tintamarre is a unique place for Saint-Martin and, at a regional level, has a low level of human disturbance on its fauna and flora. As such, it is poised for immense benefits from the conservation of its invaluable historical and living heritage. This project and place are also an opportunity for Saint-Martin to increase its skills and play a leading role in conservation.” 

– Anne Karine Fleming, daughter of the current owner of central Tintamarre and Vice-President of Association de Gestion de la Réserve Naturelle de Saint-Martin (AGNRSM) 

Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, UK 

“The success of this project will mean that the wildlife of Rathlin, the sights and sounds that we grew up with, can continue. The seabirds and ground-nesting birds are a big part of our natural heritage as well as being a major draw to the island for tourists during the spring and summer months. By protecting them we are making sure that our island community plays a part in protecting this shared heritage for future generations.” 

– Michael Cecil, Chair of the Rathlin Development Community Association 

Catalina Island, Dominican Republic 

“Catalina Island is one of the best coral reefs of Dominican Republic, however due to climate change and bleaching events corals have suffered high mortalities in Catalina and around the Caribbean. The monitoring of the ecosystems is key to define the strategy of intervention for their conservation.” 

– Rita I. Sellares Blasco, CEO of Fundacion Dominicana de Estudios Marinos 

Savana Island, United States Virgin Islands 

“Creating an island refuge to the Virgin Islands Tree Boa after the removal of invasive rats is a remarkable action for the recovery of this endangered snake. Restoring Savana Island represent a significant commitment of all the project partners involved and will enhance the terrestrial and marine habitats for seabirds, native reptiles, plants, land crabs, and nearshore reefs.” 

– José Luis Herrera-Giraldo, Project Manager, Island Conservation 

Bokak Atoll, Republic of Marshall Islands 

Bokak Atoll is the most pristine atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and one of the most unmodified places in the tropical Pacific. It is home to an astonishing array of breeding seabirds, which sadly are subject to long-term population decline due to depredation by invasive rats. Eradicating rats on Bokak would pave the way for restoration of the seabird colonies to their former glory, in turn repairing vital ecosystem functions and improving the health of the reef and the surrounding seas, giving Bokak the best chance to endure the effects of human-induced climate change.” 

– Paul Jacques, Island Restoration Specialist, Island Conservation 

Jemo Island, Republic of the Marshall Islands 

“SPREP and the Pacific Regional Invasive Species Management Support Service (PRISMSS) are pleased to be supporting these efforts to restore island resilience through the IOCC. The restoration of Bikar Atoll and Jemo Island in the Marshall Islands will provide significant benefits to assist local communities to adapt to climate change with support from the New Zealand Government.”  

– David Moverley (SPREP Invasive Species Adviser) 

“Jemo Island has traditionally been held as Mo, a sanctuary, by the Chiefs of the Northern Marshall Islands due to its abundant populations of seabirds and endangered Green Sea Turtles. Invasive rats threaten the long term survival of these populations; removal of the rats will catalyze the restoration of the islet’s biodiversity and restore ecosystem processes that nourish its coral reef and surrounding seas.” 

– Paul Jacques, Island Restoration Specialist, Island Conservation 

Bikar Atoll, Republic of Marshall Islands 

“Bikar Atoll is one of the only remaining semi-arid atoll ecosystems on the planet, a true “desert island” that holds huge colonies of seabirds and one of the largest nesting populations of endangered Green Sea Turtles in the central Pacific Ocean. However, the health of this fragile ecosystem and its inhabitants is critically threatened by two species of invasive rats, and long-term population declines of native species have occurred. By eradicating invasive rats, we hope to restore Bikar Atoll to its former glory and repair the linkages between atoll, reef and deep ocean.” 

– Paul Jacques, Island Restoration Specialist, Island Conservation 

IOCC Partner Support 

“The IOCC is emblematic, not only in its conservation success, but also in its vision to unite a committed global community of changemakers to help catalyse the restoration of island-ocean ecosystems. Journeys With Purpose looks forward to engaging with the IOCC’s restoration and rewilding initiatives in Palau later this year, and to see these efforts refined and replicated across the eight newly confirmed projects in the pursuit of 40 holistically restored island-ocean ecosystems by 2030.”   

– Lara Webster, Journeys with Purpose 

“Restoring critical island-ocean ecosystems is going to take both intentional innovation and collaboration. We are proud to support Island Conservation through the Salesforce Accelerator for Nature to build an interactive system to monitor island forest carbon and invasive species removal using remote sensing.”  

– Naomi Morenzoni, SVP of Climate and Innovation Philanthropy, Salesforce