Conserving Biodiversity Project hosts Open Day

Apr 25, 2017

A team of entomologists is cataloguing various species of beetles and other invertebrates that are present in several unique locations in St. Kitts and Nevis. “Here in St. Kitts, these species only occur in a very narrow area, and therefore it is very important globally. They need to be documented, explained, celebrated and then protected,” remarks Dr. Michael Ivie, an entomologist, at an Open Day event held as part of the “Conserving Biodiversity and reducing habitat degradation in Protected Areas and their areas of influence” Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The event was organised as part of the outreach activities of the Conserving Biodiversity project to provide the population of St. Kitts and Nevis, particularly schoolchildren, with an opportunity to interact with a group of researchers developing a terrestrial ecological inventory of the country and learn about its unique biodiversity. The team consists of a wide range of experts: agronomist, herpetologist, forester, entomologist, GIS specialist, botanist, and research students. The purpose of the inventory is to collect vital data on the flora and fauna of the established and proposed protected areas, including the Central Forest Reserve National Park, the Booby Island Nature Park, the Nevis Peak National Park and the Camps River Watershed Area.

Claudia Drew, Project Coordinator, says, “It is important for us to conserve our biodiversity because we have to ensure that measures are in place to combat climate change and its impacts. It is equally important for us to continue to have a pristine environment because one of our main industries is tourism and obviously tourists do not want to go to a place where the natural environment is degraded.” And that is the focus of the Conserving Biodiversity project. Its objective is to expand and strengthen the terrestrial and marine protected areas system, and reduce habitat degradation in their areas of influence that negatively impact Protected Areas ecological functioning.

A number of students from local primary and secondary schools attended the event and interacted with Dr. Ivie and his research team. One of the students stated that she gained new knowledge about global warming, the dangers of climate change, and the importance of protecting natural habitats. Her classmate said, “Persons should go out and learn more about the details of the project as it is important for locals to understand their environment.” Based on the feedback from the students and teachers, the Open Day event provided a unique learning opportunity to them: they deepened their understanding of the local invertebrates and more importantly being so close to the creatures allayed some of their fears.