- A defining feature of the Pacific is the Western Pacific Warm Pool ecosystem. The limited land base of the area is distributed among 200 high islands and 2,500 low islands and atolls. All
participating islands lie in the tropical zone and experience sea surface temperatures that rarely fall below 20 degrees Celsius. In general, the islands increase in size from east to west such that over 83% of the region's land mass is situated in Papua New Guinea, and most of the rest is in the other Melanesian countries and territories.
The SOE uses the 2011 report by Cook Islands to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to identify the country’s terrestrial protected areas. There are 14 terrestrial PAs, which total at least 1407.2 hectares (five PAs are uncalculated), or about six per cent of the Cook Islands’ total 240 km2 land mass.