Protected Areas 101
Protected Areas Development in the Caribbean
The Caribbean has a long history of establishing protected areas for ensuring the continued flow of environmental goods and services, and the sustainable use of those resources. The first Caribbean protected areas were established more than 200 years ago, and have remained important components of development processes in their respective countries. Some of the early sites are:
• Main Ridge Forest Reserve of Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago – declared in 1776 for the purpose of “attracting frequent showers of rain”.
• Kings Hill Forest Reserve, St. Vincent and the Grenadines – declared in 1791 for the purpose of attracting clouds and rain.
• Morant and Pedro Cays Reserve, Jamaica – declared in 1907 to ensure sustainable harvesting of fish, birds, and turtles.
• Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, Puerto Rico – declared in 1909.
• Grand Etang Forest Reserve, Grenada – declared in 1910.
• Little Tobago Game Reserve, Trinidad – declared in 1928.
• Sierra Cristal National Park, Cuba – established in 1930.
While protected areas development continued steadily throughout the 1950s to 1980s, there has been an upsurge in the number of sites declared since the 1990s. This increase resulted mainly from the increased awareness of, and need for, the benefits provided by protected areas. The objectives for protected areas development broadened in scope from watershed and wildlife protection to fisheries management, biodiversity protection, attractions for tourism, and education.
Current initiatives in the Caribbean focused on protected areas development include:
Programme on Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (http://www.cep.unep.org/about-cep/spaw)
The Programme on Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Programme) is one of three sub-programmes under the Caribbean Environment Programme. The legal framework for the SPAW Programme is provided by the SPAW Protocol.
Caribbean Challenge Initiative (http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/caribbean/caribbean-challenge.xml)
The Caribbean Challenge Initiative was launched in 2008, and involves ten Caribbean countries that have committed to conserving at least 20% of their coastal environments by 2020 as part of their national protected areas systems. The initiative, coordinated by The Nature Conservancy, includes the establishment of funding mechanisms at the national and regional levels for protected areas management.
Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Project (BIOPAMA) (http://www.biopama.org/where_we_work/caribbean/)
The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Project (BIOPAMA) is a 4-year project (2011-15) launched by the European Commission in July 2011, as part of its Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific programme. One of the two project components deals with protected areas management, and the Caribbean activities are being implemented by the MesoAmerica office of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway
The Caribbean Protected Areas Gateway is a web portal hosted by the University of the West Indies to support Linking data to better decisions. It is a product of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Project, implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and funded by the European Union. The Gateway is a resource hub for facilitating and promoting better decisions and policies by decision makers, resource managers, and other stakeholders for effective and sustainable management of protected areas based on the use of biodiversity, socioeconomic, and governance data.
Caribbean Vocational Standards for Maintenance in Terrestrial Protected Areas (http://www.sustrust.net)
The Trust for Sustainable Livelihoods (Sustrust) collaborated with the Caribbean Association of National Training Agencies to develop the competency standards for vocational qualification in maintenance operations in terrestrial protected areas. Sustrust is also certified by the National Training Agency of Trinidad and Tobago to provide training and competency assessment for maintenance personnel in terrestrial protected areas.
Global protected areas programmes are also implemented on a country or site by site basis in the Caribbean, including the World Heritage Programme [http://whc.unesco.org/en/lac/], the Convention on Biological Diversity Programme of Work on Protected Areas [http://www.cbd.int/protected], and the Man and the Biosphere Programme [http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/man-and-biosphere-programme/].