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Barbados - Main Details

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Barbados is a small Caribbean island with a mild subtropical climate. It is relatively flat, composed mostly of coral limestone with deep riverbed gullies. These gullies tend to have a large and mature collection of native ferns, climbers, shrubs and trees. These gullies are particularly significant, as Barbados’ natural vegetation cover has been reduced to around 2% or 800 hectares of the island’s territory since its settlement in 1627. The main agricultural crop is sugar cane, but there is an increasing amount of abandoned sugar cane land regenerating under a natural vegetation cover. 78% of the land area in Barbados is farmed by 10% of the farmers and is dominated by estates or plantations of over 50 hectares. Indigenous mammals in Barbados are restricted to 6 species of bats, but introduced mammals include rats, green monkeys and mongoose. Barbados is located on a major migratory flyway between North and South America and as a result some 150 species of migratory birds have been recorded in the island. Aquatic ecosystems include wetlands, rocky intertidal areas, seagrass beds and coral reefs. The main causes of habitat loss are tourism developments, unsustainable land use practices, land clearance and golf course developments. Other threats to biodiversity include the introduction of alien invasive species and sewage pollution. The stocks of sea turtles have been severely overexploited including species such as the Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) and Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta).

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The 12 specific objectives of the strategy and action plan include: mobilization of financial resources; development of a human resource base and strengthening of institutional capacity; conducting research to develop sustainable use management techniques and mechanisms; revision and formulation of policy and legislation; and promoting biodiversity conservation through incentives. Each objective is associated with a strategy and specific actions for implementation. Most of these actions are not time-bound or quantitative. The strategy is preceded by a thorough description of the status of biodiversity in Barbados.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

There are several strategies in place to ensure conservation of biodiversity, including the Fisheries Management Plan and the Integrated Coastal Management Plan. The Area Development Plan and the Physical Development Plan both recommend that agricultural practices take into consideration environmental protection and sustainable use. In addition, an Integrated Gully Ecosystem Management Plan was prepared to balance the need to protect biodiversity and the gullies’ drainage function with the development required for ecotourism and agriculture. The provisions of the NBSAP are being implemented through the annual Biodiversity Work Programme of the Ministry of Energy and Environment (MEE). Because tourism has such an important impact on the Barbados environment, a Sustainable Tourism Policy has been adopted. The Barbados Policy on Sustainable Development has adopted a list of 170 core indicators for sustainable development. Five indicators have been identified for measuring biodiversity in the context of sustainable development, which are (i) local species populations (ii) threatened species as a percentage of total native species (iii) percentage change in key ecosystems (iv) decline of indicator species as a measure of habitat stability and health (v) quantity of introduced/exotic species. Measures taken to reduce the threat of invasive species include draft Guidelines for the Management of Alien/Exotic Species, the Quarantine Act and the Health Services Act.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

To further protect its ecosystems, Barbados is currently preparing for accession to the Ramsar Convention, with the Graeme Hall Swamp slated to be the first designated site.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

The Government provides financial and technical support for the strengthening and development of local fisherfolk organizations. It is the Government’s policy to consult Fishers in the decision making process.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme