Crucian Conservationists seek to Protect Native Species


The St. Croix Source reports that Crucian conservationists concerned about the future of wildlife in the Virgin Islands recently gathered at the old estate great house in Estate Princess (Nature Conservancy property) looking for ways to lessen threats to native species.

[. . .] Attending the workshop were representatives from St. Croix Environmental Association, U.S. Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry, University of the Virgin Islands, Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the Nature Conservancy, the St. Croix Hiking Assoc., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [. . ] Attendees began by identifying the various habitats in the Virgin Islands, including beaches and shorelines, seagrass beds, guts, wetlands, forest, open water, mangroves and coral reefs. The attendees identified threats to these habitats and then, in groups, tried to come up with methods to alleviate those threats.

The habitats had many common threats according to the groups reports – over-development, pollution, dumping and littering. The methods of alleviating the threats also were similar – education, enforcement of existing laws and getting residents to volunteer in conservation efforts. [. . .] One specific recommendation that everyone appeared to agree on was that representatives from the V.I. Department of Education needed to be brought into these type of discussions.

Leading the afternoon session, [Brent Murry, science coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service out of San Juan] asked attendees to come up with how they envisioned the landscape – natural and urban – on the islands in five or 10 years. He then asked if that vision is what people really wanted the landscape to look like. He said conservation groups are often good on high-level objectives but action needed to be taken at the ground level.

Murry represented Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative, a partnership trying to advance science and action for the future of natural and cultural resources. This cooperative of conservation entities looks to conserve landscape while maintaining ecosystem integrity, human well-being, and the preservation of cultural and historical resources. It has two pilot programs in Puerto Rico and is looking to establish another in the Virgin Islands. [. . . ]

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