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).