Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are organisms (plants, animals, parasites or pathogens) whose introduction and/or spread impacts human health and well-being, disrupts trade and threatens biological diversity (Caribbean Invasive Alien Species Network CIASNET, 2010). IAS are recognized as one of the leading threats to biodiversity and also impose enormous costs on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, on human and animal health as well as ecosystem services and tourism.
Rapidly accelerating trade, tourism, transport, and travel – the infamous “four Ts” – over the past century have dramatically enhanced the spread of IAS, allowing them to surmount natural geographic barriers. With this in mind, The Forestry Department of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology organized a workshop on IAS and off-shore islands, meant to bring together key persons within the tourism sector. At this workshop we hope to encourage mutually beneficial synergies that will allow sustainable use of these pristine and endangered ecosystems, which compliment the already outstanding natural beauty of our island nation.
Over the last two years, the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry and Fisheries through the Departments of Forestry and Fisheries has been implementing an IAS project geared at developing a national strategy for managing IAS in St. Lucia. This project is part of a wider, four-year regional project aimed at developing a regional strategy and collaboration for managing IAS in St. Lucia and the wider Caribbean, which is hoped to continue beyond the duration of the current project through policy and legislative changes.
The Department of Forestry is engaged in monitoring several off-shore islands against the invasion by predatory IAS. The only residents on these off-shore islands are bird and some very unique reptiles, some of which are found nowhere else in the world. The islands are also home to some rare dryland plants, such as cacti. These unique and rare species are an asset that sets Saint Lucia apart from other tropical island tourist destinations.
While Saint Lucia’s off-shore islands may present new opportunities and benefits to our tourism product, they are particularly vulnerable to man-made disturbances, including IAS. Thus, we hope this workshop will catalyze mutually beneficial understanding and cooperation between government agencies and private stakeholders in the tourism sector, so we will join forces against an overwhelming threat to our native biodiversity and associated livelihoods: invasive alien species.
This workshop was held on Tuesday 5th June, 2012 at the Vieux Fort Fisheries Complex Conference Room.
Dr. Ulrike Krauss
Invasive Species Coordinator
Forestry Department: Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology
Union, Saint Lucia
Phone: 468 5646 Mobile: 713 4308