Biodiversity

Frequently asked questions

Turner's Hall Woods Canopy

What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity, or biological diversity refers to all living organisms and comprises the totality of genes, species and ecosystems in a given region.

More simply, biodiversity is the variety of the world’s organisms, including their genetic makeup and the communities they form.

What is the Current Status of Biodiversity in Barbados ?

Barbados’ Biodiversity has been shaped over time by human intervention through the domestication and breeding of local varieties of crops and livestock and the various components have enormous importance in all aspects of human life, for food, medicines, industrial and agricultural products and as the basis for recreation and tourism.

There are about seven hundred species of flowering plants in Barbados, two hundred and one species of birds, most of which are migrants here for a short time, fifteen species of mammals, eight species of reptiles and two amphibians. Barbados has very few endemic species.  The marine biodiversity is comparatively high with approximately fifty hard corals and almost six hundred fish species recorded.

What are the Impacts on Barbados’ Biodiversity?

Barbados is a rapidly developing island state with a total land area of 430 km2, Barbados’ well developed physical infrastructure including our transport networks and one of the highest population densities in the world means that the relatively limited biodiversity and natural habitats are constantly under threat from the encroachment of human activity.  Developments, including but not limited to golf courses and other tourism development, scattered residential and commercial development, rural subdivisions and intensive mono-culture are among the issues with the potential to negatively impact on the country’s biodiversity.

International travel and trade have provided many opportunities for the deliberate introduction or accidental invasion of species.  When a species enters an ecosystem in which it did not previously occur, it can have adverse effects on the local biodiversity.

What is the Ministry of Environment’s Response?

The Biodiversity Conservation and Management Programme

The Government of Barbados is committed to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the Ministry of Environment, currently has in place a work programme which works towards these goals and incorporates all stakeholder groups.

What is the objective of  the Biodiversity Programme?

To undertake effective management of the biodiversity and land resources, particularly in degraded areas of Barbados, to contribute to their conservation and increased awareness of the importance of local biodiversity and land resources and their contribution to local development.

How is the objective Achieved?

This objective is achieved through specific activities; one is through the development of legislative instruments, the development and implementation of plans, programmes, projects and multilateral environmental agreements.  Biodiversity Conservation and Management is implemented in the following areas:

  1. Species Management
  2. Public Awareness and Education and
  3. Multilateral Environmental Agreement Implementation
  4. Project implementation and Development

Does the Programme have a legislative mandate?

Yes, the biodiversity programme fulfils the role of CITES Management Authority. Barbados has been a Party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1993 and the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Act, 2006-3, passed in Parliament on February 7, 2006, in Section 5 (1) provides for the establishment of a Management Authority “for the purpose of establishing control over the international trade in any specimen listed in the Second Schedule.”

Under the Act the Management Authority is responsible for issuing permits for the importation, exportation and re-exportation of endangered species of wild fauna and flora, maintaining records of trade, preparing annual reports, choosing rescue centres, consulting with the Scientific Authority, promoting public awareness and assessing adequacy of importers.

Does the Biodiversity Programme undertake public awareness and education ?

Yes the work of the biodiversity programme will focus on the following  activities in relation to the various aspects of the programme of work and also related to the legislation.  Activities to mark Biodiversity Day, May 22 nd , International Wetlands Day, February 2nd and  Land Degradation Day, June 17th .

Officers within the programme will be working with the Ministry’s adopted schools which have environmental clubs to undertake projects in the area of biodiversity and sustainable land management.  This programme was initiated in 2006 with the Wesley Hall Infants School and will continue in the upcoming period with the addition of St. Andrew’s Primary, Holy Innocents and Sharon Primary.

Emerging from the recently concluded “Targeted Portfolio Approach to SLM’ Project, was a Communications Strategy for SLM.  The recommendations from this report will be implemented as they relate to public education.  Education and  Awareness tools will include pamphlets, posters, newspaper advertisements, just to name a few.

Another output from the SLM project was a website.  Under the public education awareness of the SLM work program, this website will be further populated and developed for information dissemination to the general public.

What are the MEAs which the Biodiversity Programme implements ?

  1. The Convention on Biological Diversity
  2. Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES)
  3. United National Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought

 What is the Convention on Biological Diversity?

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international environmental treaty that has as its objectives, the conservation of biodiversity or all living organisms; the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of biodiversity.

Barbados ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in December 1993. The country is therefore bound by the provisions of the Convention and has the responsibility for ensuring that the provisions of the Convention are met, in accordance with the particular conditions within and with the country and with the available financial, technical and other resources.

What is CITES?

CITES came into force in 1975 with the purpose of protecting endangered species of plants and animals from extinction as a result of international trade.  Barbados acceded to the Convention in September 1992 and it came into force in March 1993.

The Convention regulates trade in species of wild plants and animals listed in three appendices.  Appendix I list species that are extremely rare and where trade primarily for commercial purposes is prohibited, for example sea turtles.  Appendix II deals with species that may become threatened if trade is not regulated, for example most species of hard corals and the vervet monkey and Appendix III species are country specific i.e conservation efforts to protect them are being undertaken in specific countries.