PREFACE Preparation of Antigua and Barbuda’s first National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) represents an important milestone in the country’s effort to achieve sustainable management of its natural resources.
This exercise is an important element of efforts to stimulate awareness, both nationally and wider afield, of the significance of the country’s biological wealth and of the threats presently confronting these resources. The aim is to provide an overview of the importance of Antigua and Barbuda’s biodiversity, the preservation and management efforts presently underway, and the directions sought as the country fulfills its obligations as a signatory of the CBD.
This report represents the culmination of efforts by a number of individuals and organizations. Initial work on an Inventory of biological resources was conducted by Island Resource Foundation through Dr. Bruce Horwith. An analysis of policy options for meeting the goals and objectives of the CBD was undertaken by Daven Joseph and Associates. Following this, a draft Biodiversity and Action Plan was prepared by Mrs. Cheryl Jeffrey-Appleton and Mr. McRonnie Henry. That document formed the basis for the final BSAP prepared by Mrs. Dawn Marshall. At all stages of this process, emphasis has been placed on stakeholder involvement and appreciation is extended to the participants of the various workshops and consultations held in Antigua and Barbuda prior to the preparation of the report.
Particular mention must be made of Mrs. Agnes James, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, who served as overall Chairperson of the Enabling Activity Project through which the initiative was spearheaded.
Mrs. Dianne Black-Layne of the Environment Division of the Ministry of Tourism and the Environment, Mr. Lionel Michael of the Central Board of Health, and Ambassador Dr. John Ashe of the Antigua and Barbuda Mission to the United Nations were also major contributors to the elaboration of this document. Photographs were loaned by Mr. Eddison Nias, Mr. Timothy Payne of the Antigua Sun newspaper and the Environmental Awareness Group.
It is hoped that this document will be one small tool in increasing awareness at all levels of the nation’s rich biodiversity and of the importance of sound environmental management in enabling a sustainable future for Antigua and Barbuda.
This First National Report is submitted in compliance with the intent of Article 26 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Its purpose is to set forth a correlation of national statement of purpose with a resulting action plan for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in Antigua and Barbuda.
The United Nations Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (1992) addressed the attention of the international community to the vulnerability of small-island developing states. It is now clearly recognized that the future survival of such countries is linked to the preservation and conservation of the natural environment.
Antigua and Barbuda is one of the smallest countries in the world, averaging 170 square miles in size, comprising a number of uninhabited small islands and cays, and characterized by low-lying coral and limestone formations. Climatic conditions are tropical maritime with high temperatures all year round.
A historical legacy of trade unionism and social democracy has emphasized measures for promoting economic and social development, resulting in increasing stresses on biodiversity and the natural environment. The country’s economic development, however, is based chiefly upon tourism, which in turn depends heavily upon the quality of the environment. The fragility and interdependence of coastal zones and unspoiled areas therefore require careful planning and management.
The significant features of the country’s biodiversity include its flora and fauna, coastal and marine resources, mangrove and wetland systems and agro-biodiversity. Both natural causes and human action have resulted in ongoing threats to the biodiversity of Antigua and Barbuda. Large areas of wildlife habitat have been erased primarily through over-exploitation of reefs, pollution, over-grazing, and the introduction of non-indigenous species. Other causes of biodiversity destruction include drought, hurricanes and overuse of pesticides.
A number of governmental and non-governmental agencies have evolved to identify, monitor and control the negative impacts of these and other threats on the nation’s biodiversity. They include the Environmental Awareness Group; the Environmental Division of the Ministry of Tourism and Environment; the Development Control Authority; the Agricultural Plant Protection Unit, Forestry Department and Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture; the Central Board of Health; and the National Solid Waste Management Authority.
Given the small size of the state of Antigua and Barbuda, and the fragility of its environment, the preservation and conservation of its biodiversity is of critical importance. A Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan has been developed to provide the framework for such action by local, national, regional and international agencies involved in promoting the goals and objectives of sustainable development in Antigua and Barbuda.
This strategy encompasses the protection of the country’s biodiversity through management and conservation; the co-ordination of all activities of both governmental and non-governmental agencies; the enforcement of ecological legislation and public awareness of environmental issues. These four aspects are aimed at improving the well-being of the people, as well as the productivity and diversity of the country’s ecosystem’s.
A wide range of activities has been recommended in order to achieve these aims. These include:
establishment of an integrated co-ordinating mechanism for attaining consensus and unified decisions on the implementation of the BSAP;
inclusion of stakeholders as part of biodiversity policy planning and formulation, with emphasis on meaningful consultation and wide participation;
support of a technically competent secretariat; and
use of available manpower at the technical level from the public, private and NGO sectors to support the co-ordinating mechanism and the impending legal and institutional changes.
Future action will entail the evolution of actions relating to implementation of the Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, which provides an overall framework for controlling the dangers of invasive species, global climate change, and other continuing anthropogenic stresses on Antigua and Barbuda’s fragile biodiversity resource.
National Solid Waste Management Authority…………………………….
BIODIVERSITY STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN………………………...
Activities Required to Achieve the Objectives……………………………..
Activities to Establish and Sustain Institutional Arrangements
for Managing the BSAP……………………………………………………….
LIST OF TABLES
Table I: Gross Domestic Product in Current and Constant Prices…………..
Table II: Visitor Arrivals by Cruise Ship and Air (1990 – 1999)………………
Table III: Number of Historical and Cultural Heritage Sites…………………..
Table IV: Crops/Livestock for Which There are One or More Local Varieties..
LIST OF APPENDICES Appendix I: Selected Wetlands Impacted by Development…………………………
Appendix II: Proposed Marine Reserves for Antigua and Barbuda…………………
INTRODUCTION Antigua and Barbuda, along with much of the international community, participated in the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One of the principal outcomes of this exercise was the signing of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB) representing the first comprehensive international agreement for the protection of the Earth’s biological resources.
Movement towards the CDB was spurred by increasing recognition that the Earth’s biodiversity, and the ecosystems of which they form a part, are being lost at an alarming rate with negative consequences for the sustainability of critical ecosystems and the socio-economic systems dependent upon them. In many instances, recognition of the need to begin to address these problems arose from the efforts of civil society. Among the factors spurring loss of biodiversity globally are the over-exploitation of resources, pollution, climate change, and loss of important habitats.
The CDB requires that States, which are party to the agreement, develop and implement comprehensive national biodiversity strategies and action plans. At the international level, institutional structures are set up to assist countries in their implementation efforts , including a financial mechanism to provide assistance to developing countries.
The CDB seeks to tackle a major global challenge by integrating environmental conservation with economic development: the concept of “sustainable development”. This approach recognizes the need for economic growth and development while requiring that economic activity proceed in a manner to allow future generations equal access to the earth’s environmental resources.
Economic and social well being in Antigua are intimately linked to the preservation of the natural environment, including its biological resources. Notwithstanding these linkages, the importance of these resources, and therefore the significance of their management and conservation, have not been appreciated historically. The result has been increasing pressure on these resources. The pace of economic growth and resultant transformation of the physical landscape have exacerbated this situation in recent years. Presently, residential and tourism growth are key factors influencing land use patterns in Antigua and Barbuda. Unfortunately, this growth has taken place with little emphasis on urban planning, resulting in patterns of disorganized spatial development.
At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, over 150 countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, signed the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). This Convention provides an internationally agreed upon legal framework that obliges a country to undertake measures to directly conserve and use biodiversity in a sustainable manner.
Antigua and Barbuda ratified the Convention in April, 1993. Thus it agreed to support the Convention’s three basic objectives:
Conservation of biological diversity;
Sustainable use of its components; and
Fair and equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the utilization of genetic resources.
The main concepts, strategies and spheres of jurisdiction for biodiversity conservation are outlined in the CDB. According to Article 6 of the Convention, each party “shall, in accordance with its particular conditions and capabilities:
Develop national strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity or adopt for this purpose existing strategies, plans or programmes which shall reflect, inter alia, the measures set out in this Convention relevant to the Contracting Party concerned; and
Integrate, as far as possible and as appropriate, the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies.
In order to assist Parties in meeting their obligations as specified by the CBD, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) was directed to provide funds for “Biodiversity Enabling Activities”. In the case of Antigua and Barbuda, this project was implemented through the Office of the Prime Minister.
CHAPTER 2 OVERVIEW OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
2.1 PHYSICAL FEATURES
The archipelagic state of Antigua and Barbuda is located in the northeastern Caribbean. Antigua, 108 square miles, the larger and more populous of the islands, is located between the French department of Guadeloupe and the island of Nevis with Barbuda, 62 square miles, located some forty miles north of Antigua. Antigua and Barbuda constitutes the second smallest country in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the smallest countries in the world.
In addition to the two main islands, the State of Antigua and Barbuda comprises a number of uninhabited small islands and cays, including the island of Redonda, which has previously been known for phosphate mining and export.
Geologically, the islands of Antigua and Barbuda are distinguished from most other neighbouring islands by their low-lying coral and limestone formations. Antigua can be divided into three main regions:
A hilly volcanic area of rugged hills in the southeast, rising to Boggy Peak (approx. 1300 ft.)
A coastal plain of rolling lowlands
Limestone hills and areas.
In comparison to Antigua, Barbuda’s topography is relatively uniform. One distinct difference is the presence of sand dunes. The island is mostly covered with limestone and sand. Barbuda is surrounded by coral reefs. Running along the western side of the island is the largest lagoon in the Eastern Caribbean, separated from the sea by a narrow spit of land. This lagoon is of special conservation significance.
The absence of high hills and of forest growth as well as their position relative to the equatorial rain belt has meant that Antigua and Barbuda has no rivers and is frequently subject to severe droughts. Soils are generally quite fertile. The country’s flat topography enables road access to virtually all areas, facilitating the fairly even distribution of settlements and industry.
Antigua’s deeply indented bays and sandy beaches provide the setting for much of the island’s important tourism industry. Equally, Barbuda’s pink sand beaches and coral reefs provide an aesthetic and environmental feature unique to the Eastern Caribbean.
PHOTO # 1
The climate of Antigua and Barbuda is a tropical maritime one with high temperatures all year round. It is influenced by the steady easterly trade winds and has a marked dry and wet season. Daily temperatures average 750 F (240C) in December and January and 840F (290C) in August and September. The impermeable nature of the soil in many areas facilitates rainfall run-off. Rainfall averages 24 - 49 inches (60 - 125 cm).
2.3 SOCIO-ECONOMIC SITUATION The island’s population consists primarily of the descendants of West Africans, brought to the New World as agricultural slave workers for the sugar cane industry, at one time the chief industry of Antigua and Barbuda.
The 1999 census has estimated Antigua and Barbuda’s population at approximately 65,000 persons, and this is expanded by an annual tourist population of approximately 460,000 visitors.
PHOTOS # 2 and 3
Antigua and Barbuda’s economy has since the 1960’s come to rely increasingly on the tourism sector. Table I provides an indication of Gross Domestic Product in current and constant prices for 1997 and 1998.
Table I: Gross Domestic Product in Current and Constant Prices
Mining & Quarrying
Electricity & Water
Wholesale & Retail Trade
Hotels & Restaurants
Bank & Insurance
Real Estate & Housing
Less Imputed Service
Growth Rate (%)
Table II provides tourism arrival figures by air and sea for the period 1990-1999.
Table II: Visitor Arrivals by Cruise Ship and Air (1990-1999)
STAY-OVER AIR ARRIVALS
CRUISE SHIP PASSENGER
Source: Annual Tourism Statistical Review (1999) The main attractions for visitors to Antigua and Barbuda are its many white sand beaches and other aspects of its marine and coastal environment. Other sites of interest include the lookout at Shirley Heights; the bird sanctuary in Barbuda which hosts a colony of Frigate birds; Nelson’s Dockyard; Betty’s Hope plantation; Devil’s Bridge; and the St. John’s Cathedral.
Tourism facilities are scattered throughout the island but concentrations of hotels, and other tourism facilities are located along Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay; Deep Bay/Galley Bay; Jolly Beach and English Harbour/Falmouth Harbour. Most of Antigua’s hotels are located in these areas. Despite its excellent pink and white sand
PHOTOS # 4 and 5
beaches, Barbuda has not experienced the tourism development similar to Antigua, and caters primarily to an elite niche market.
However, if not properly planned and managed, tourism can significantly degrade the environment on which it is so dependent. The fragility and interdependence of coastal zones and unspoiled areas therefore require careful planning and management.
Agriculture, which formerly dominated the country’s economy through the sugar industry, now provides a relatively minor direct contribution mainly through the fisheries sub-sector, including the export of lobsters from Barbuda. Agricultural production includes fruits, vegetables and livestock. Government’s policy aims to modernize farming techniques; encourage export promotion and import substitution; and, through effective linkages with the tourism industry, reduce the leakage of foreign exchange earnings.
Abandonment of sugar lands has been an unplanned spur to residential and commercial development on to former agricultural lands. In recent years, the construction and offshore financial sectors have also served as important stimuli to the economy.
In addition to the directly productive sectors, government services provide a major element of the national economy through provision of public services and constituting the largest single employer. Other sectors playing significant roles include retail trades, transport and communications.
Institutionally, the country has inherited administrative structures patterned on the Westminster political and constitutional model. While possessing certain strengths, the emphasis on vertical administrative structures tends to reduce the ability for effective inter-sectoral and inter-agency collaboration and coordination of resources. This is particularly important for biodiversity management based on an ecosystem approach as promoted in the CDB because of the number of multiple use and user conflicts issues likely to arise where management is required to encompass the variety of socio-economic actors involved.
The country’s political culture has in large part reflected the transition from an agricultural economy based on cheap peasant labour to a tourism-based economy with a relatively advanced standard of living. Critical to this has been the historical legacy of trade unionism and social democracy, which has emphasized measures for promoting economic and social development, including the use of economic and fiscal incentives. One unfortunate consequence of such economic growth has been the increasing stresses on biodiversity and the natural environment.
The rich historical and cultural heritage of Antigua and Barbuda is soundly reflected in the remaining historical sites which can still be found throughout the country.