Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
The Virgin Islands is joining organisations from across the Caribbean to share scientific best practices and techniques for mangrove restoration in a virtual Regional Mangrove Symposium from March 1 to 3.
Minister of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent Wheatley said he looks forward to the ideas that will be shared and the potential partnerships that will be made that will ultimately benefit everyone involved going forward.
Honourable Wheatley said, “The Territory’s mangroves are vital in the face of global climate change, they are our first line of defense in the form of prevention of coastal erosion, protection from wave energy and storm surges, carbon storage, water filtration, and key nursery habitat for many local and commercial fisheries.”
Minister Wheatley added that after hurricanes Maria and Irma, substantial damage was done to a large portion of the Territory’s key coastal ecosystems like coral reefs, mangroves, beaches, seagrass beds and other environmental infrastructure assets, and losses were estimated at 3.1 million pounds.
He added, “The Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration and its partners have been working since then to sustainably manage and restore those key ecosystems by natural means as much as possible. This symposium is needed so that we can continue our work using the best methods available to us going forward.”
Meanwhile, Marine Biologist Mr. Mervin Hastings commented on the importance of the mangrove symposium as it relates to capacity building in the Territory.
He said, “The BVI is one of the leading countries as it relates to mangrove nursing and replanting. It is my hope that our methods can be used or emulated across the region to help other countries and small island developing states to assist them in any areas that they may be having issues in relation to mangroves.”
The Mangrove Symposium has brought organisations and practitioners from across the Caribbean together to share new scientific developments, examples, and lessons learnt from the implementation of mangrove restoration in the Caribbean, also while promoting accelerating the uptake, resourcing and implementation of mangrove restoration, and building new partnerships among national, regional, and global actors.
Mangrove restoration initiatives in the Virgin Islands post hurricanes Irma and Maria will be highlighted at the symposium. Since the hurricanes which saw the destruction of over 90% of mangroves, three nurseries have been established, including the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College nursery on Tortola, the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society Nursery and the National Parks Trust Nursery on Anegada. To date, these nurseries have out planted over 2,100 mangroves and there are close to 6,000 plants in propagation.
Under the Post-Disaster Restoration of Mangroves (PROM) project, a Territory-wide assessment of mangroves was conducted in 2020 using the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems protocol. The assessment has categorised the mangrove ecosystems of the Virgin Islands as Endangered (EN-CR) and projects a total loss of 64-81% by 2040 if current trends continue.
The Caribbean Regional Mangrove Symposium is being held by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The event was organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Virgin Islands (VI) Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Coastal Habitat Restoration Team (CHRT), Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society (JVDPS), the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF), the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), and the Global Mangrove Alliance (GMA). The event is supported by The Darwin Initiative.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Photo 1: Official photo of Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Honourable Vincent Wheatley.
(Photo credit: GIS/)