November 30, 2023

Brighton Journal

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An island that was “dry as the moon” 7 years ago is now an example of ecological recovery

An island that was “dry as the moon” 7 years ago is now an example of ecological recovery

Unbelievable Environmental recovery A small Caribbean island that went from a desolate rock to a lush wildlife haven in just a few years is an example for environmentalists around the world. Committed residents Old and bearded The man who led the transformation of the country’s third, little-known island of Renton, celebrated another impressive feat.

An area less than one kilometer in length It is officially designated as a protected area by the country’s governmentIts status as a nesting ground for migratory birds and a habitat for species found nowhere else on Earth ensures that it is preserved for posterity.

Environmental Reserve Round, which includes surrounding seagrass meadows and a coral reef, covers an area of ​​30,000 hectares. Its large size means country It has already achieved its global goal of “30×30” to protect 30% of the planet by 2030..

Nowadays, Rendanta is rich in biodiversityDozens of threatened species, including colonies of globally important seabirds and endemic lizards.

Native reptiles have been reintroduced to Caribbean islandsCourtesy Edward Marshall, FFI

However, Redonda wasn’t always like this. Aggressive black rats prey on reptiles and feed on bird eggs along with goats The first settlers destroyed its vegetation and left the island with the appearance of a dry lunar landscape.

An ambitious program launched in 2016 to relocate goats and eradicate rats has seen vegetation return, bringing with it an exponential increase in native species. A local NGO, Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), led the work in collaboration with government and foreign partners including Fauna and Flora International (FFI).

EAG’s Executive Director, Arica Hill, described the zone’s new status as “a huge win for the residents of Antigua and Barbuda”.

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“This is the largest marine protected area in the Eastern Caribbean and it shows the incredible work conservationists and environmentalists can do,” he said. BBC. “What’s even more remarkable is that the government is relying on us to legally administer it.”he added.

Many bird species that almost disappeared from the Caribbean island have returnedCourtesy Edward Marshall, FFI

The group is already conducting feasibility studies in hopes of reintroducing species like the burying owl, a small sand-colored bird that nests underground, that was spotted in Rendanda several years ago.

EAG also Establish a strong management system to ensure the island is free of invasive species. These include surveillance cameras to detect wandering rats and monitor local fishing activities, which must meet strict guidelines.

FFI’s Jenny Daltry said the Caribbean islands are facing the highest rates of extinction in modern history, meaning restoration and protection of areas like Rentanda is “critical”.

The fight against rats and the translocation of livestock such as goats allowed the native species of Renton to proliferate.Courtesy Edward Marshall, FFI

Since the rescue operations began, 15 species of land birds returned to the islandLocal lizards such as the critically endangered Renton land dragon have increased in numbers.

Locals have come to call Rendanda “the rock”. Now its more ardent defenders, said EAG’s Shanna Challenger.

Until a few years ago, Redanda Island resembled a lunar landscape, with almost no life or vegetation.Courtesy Edward Marshall, FFI

“Our little sister island, unseen by many, was able to summon such national pride,” he laughed. “For me, as an Antiguan and Barbudan, this work is monumental. We are now forever in Rentan history; “I’m very honored to have played a decisive role in this, and I can’t wait to see how Renton progresses,” he noted.

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For small developing islands at risk from climate change, Rentonda’s success represents a rare bright spark amid gloomy environmental headlines.

In a few years the small island has taken a 180 degree turn and today it looks lush and fertile.Courtesy Edward Marshall, FFI

Achieving our ’30×30′ goal tells the rest of the world that this is possible. Although we don’t generate the most emissions, we are among the most affected and have met our targets ahead of time,” Challenger continued.

“We put our money where our mouth is. “I hope this will be an inspiration to other countries: if little Antigua and Barbuda can do it, so can others,” he added.

Seabirds have returned to the tiny Caribbean island of RedandaCourtesy Mike Appleton, Revld

For reserve coordinator Jonella Bradshaw, the achievements are even more personal. “When I was a child and in school, a career in the environmental field was unheard of. The emphasis was on being a doctor, dentist or lawyer,” he said.

“When you think about security, you think about things happening in the US or Europe, not on a small island in the Caribbean. Now that we’re at the forefront of international security, we can change that narrative and show the younger generation that people like me can do it,” he said. He said. Bradshaw is keen to demonstrate that protected status exists not only “on paper” but also “in reality”.”.

The small Caribbean island’s surroundings have also been declared a protected area to protect its natural wealth.Olivier Raynaud

Like his compatriots, he is well aware of the unprecedented weather conditions the country is facing. Six years ago, Barbuda was devastated by Hurricane Irma and warming seas continue to pose an existential threat to islands across the region.

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“You hear about climate change, rising temperatures and stronger storms, but We already feel it. “This summer was terrible, it was very hot,” he added. “But if we all do our part, Together we can make a difference”, he concluded.

*By Gemma Handy