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Mitigating the threats of Invasive Alien Species in the Insular Caribbean

I. General information

Project initiator: UNEP/GEF with CABI Caribbean

Implementation structure : CABI

Project objective: To develop strategies and actions on a regional level and in the different countries concerned in order to mitigate the impact of invasive alien species in the insular Caribbean

Participating countries : The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint-Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

Funding: GEF

Amount: 6,118,274 US $ including 3 M$ from GEF

Timetable: 4 years (October 2009 to August 2013)

 CABI : Naitram (Bob) Ramnanan
 UNEP/GEF : Kristin McLaughlin

II. Description

In the Caribbean, invasive alien species represent a major threat to an already vulnerable marine, freshwater and terrestrial biodiversity in various islands, and to the people depending on this biodiversity for their way of life and wellbeing. Due to most invasive species’ capacity to spread and colonise new areas, any attempt to overcome this threat would require a regional effort. The Caribbean states have identified the need for a regional strategy.

This CABI-led project thus aims to deal with these invasive species on two levels: on the one hand by implementing a regional strategy, elaborated in liaison with the Caribbean as a whole; and on the other, by reinforcing the measures taken on a national level in the different participating countries, as well as the capacity for detecting, preventing, monitoring and managing invasive species. 

The project is closely linked to the SPAW protocol and its work programme, since the aim is for the regional Invasive alien species strategy to be coherent with the SPAW protocol. Coordination and collaboration have thus been developed between CABI and the SPAW secretariat (UNEP/CEP and SPAW-RAC), and this project’s accompaniment features in successive SPAW work programmes.

The project therefore includes two main components:

  • elaborating national strategies and a regional strategy

  • carrying out concrete actions and reinforcing capacities within the framework of pilot projects

Elaborating strategies

The Bahamas is currently the only partner with a national strategy on invasive species. Through this project, the four other countries involved will develop their own national strategies in order to make invasive alien species policies, legislation, regulations and management coherent.

Regional consultations will be organised on marine, terrestrial and freshwater invasive alien species; they will constitute the basis for the regional strategy on invasive species. The Caribbean invasive species work group (CISWG) has developed a Caribbean intervention strategy for invasive species (CRISIS), which up until now has mainly focussed on agricultural pests. The systems proposed by CRISIS will be adapted and broadened to include invasive alien species threatening biodiversity.

The drawing up, management and dissemination of information will constitute one of the project’s major elements and will enable the work accomplished to continue having an effect after the end of the actual project. This implies developing and disseminating best practice guidelines, based on the analysis of critical situations met in each country, as well as publishing the results of studies carried out within the framework of this and other projects.

Access to data will also be key, as well as the need to reinforce capacities on every level in order to eradicate and improve the control and management of invasive species and avoid new invasions.

Pilot projects

As well as taking part in developing national and regional strategies, every country will also have to deal with its own most pressing problems, via 12 pilot projects focussing on prevention, early detection and prompt reaction, management and eradication of the most problematic invasive species. The subjects treated within the framework of these projects will notably include the case of “Frosty pod rot” (cocoa disease wreaking havoc in Trinidad and Tobago); the protection of endangered and endemic reptiles on Maria Island, Saint-Lucia; the eradication of invasive predatory mammals threatening native birds and reptiles in Saint-Lucia and the Dominican Republic; and the management of lion-fish and green mussels in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago respectively. Finally, two pilot projects will develop strategies to manage the ecosystem in high conservation value sites threatened by invasive species, including the Lower Black River Morass, the Ramsar site in Jamaica and the Nariva Swamp in Trinidad and Tobago where a rare and endangered species of palm tree is threatened by alien insects.

In all of these projects, the emphasis is on building up the skills and knowledge of governmental teams and managers, and on bringing adequate tools for dealing with these problems. In addition, projects aim to raise public awareness on issues linked to invasive species and highlight each country’s key invasive species.

Pilot projects have been designed to ensure that results and feedbacks are easily transposable to other sites, including other countries in the Caribbean, helping methods to be reproduced elsewhere. Via this synergetic approach, the project is looking to supply participating and other Caribbean countries with the tools and capacities needed to deal with present and future biological invasions.

III. News

First regional consultation for implementing a regional strategy to fight against invasive alien species, Trinidad, 9 June 2010

This workshop’s aim was to get countries and different players (including regional organisations) involved, in order to define and develop the major themes of a regional strategy in the fight against IASs. The latter should be finalised and officially presented to participating States for validation during the next meeting scheduled for 11 October in Saint Lucia. Once validated by the countries concerned, this strategy will then condition the launch of concrete actions on all levels (local, national, regional).

Three sub-workshops have been organised, on marine, terrestrial and freshwater IASs, in order to prepare the 3 parts of the regional strategy.

Second regional meeting for implementing a regional strategy in the fight against invasive alien species - Saint-Lucia Workshop (11-13 October 2010)

Following the Trinidad workshop, the objectives of the Saint-Lucia workshop are the following:

  • this is the second meeting for the project’s steering committee;

  • three sub-workshop’s (terrestrial/marine/freshwater) presentation of the results of their work session and continued elaboration of regional strategy;

  • sharing experiences and harmonising the work programmes of local, national and regional players;

  • reinforcing capacities, via the presentation of an invasive species database (I3N) that can be used as a tool for analysing risks of invasion. Developing Regional IAS Strategies for Freshwater; Marine and Terrestrial Ecosystems;