PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA, Oct. 6, 2014, CNS – Antigua and Barbuda is being hampered in its conservation efforts due to a lack of adequate funding.
Helena Brown, Technical Coordinator in the Environment Division of the Ministry of Health and the Environment told Caribbean News Service (CNS) that Antigua and Barbuda needs support in meeting its Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
“We have 20 Aichi targets that we intend to meet but we will need significant support,” Brown, who is representing Antigua and Barbuda at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 12) which opened here today, told CNS.
“Yes we are doing our part, yes we are trying to put in place more innovative financing mechanisms but we cannot do it on our own, we need significant support as developing countries in terms of technical support, capacity building, funding and support on the ground to help us achieve these goals so that we can sustain our biodiversity.”
The Aichi Biodiversity Targets are a set of 20, time-bound, measureable targets agreed by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010, that are now being translated into revised national strategies and action plans by the 193 Parties to the Convention. Achievement of the targets will contribute to reducing, and eventually halting, the loss of biodiversity at a global level by the middle of the twenty-first century.
Brown said there are at least two conservation programmes in Antigua where critically endangered species are being conserved – the Antiguan racer snake and the hawksbill turtle.
“There is a lot of work being done there but that’s just two species out of many. Our biodiversity is important for our health, our status, our attractiveness as a country and it is important that we conserve it and use it in a sustainable manner that it is there for generations to come,” she said.
The Antiguan racer, a small, harmless, lizard-eating snake was once widespread throughout Antigua, but became almost extinct early this century, hunted relentlessly by predators such as mongooses and rats. Up to 2013 the population size was 1020 on four islands.
Hawksbills, the commonest sea turtle of Antigua, are an endangered species.
Eighty to 100 females lay 400 to 500 eggs around Antigua and Barbuda, nesting four to six times a year at 15-day intervals.
Some 18,000 hatchlings are produced a year, with only about 3 percent reaching adulthood, because of ocean predators, land predators, human interaction and destruction through careless handling of these turtles, destructive fishing practices and lack of protection of nesting grounds. Hawksbills live to about 50 years if not taken by fishermen; a common reason for death of turtles is being tangled and trapped in gill nets and fishing nets.
Brown said biodiversity is essential for Antigua and Barbuda but many residents are not even aware of the extent of biodiversity in the country.
“We have a wide variety of biodiversity (but) our first point that we have to reach is that we have to catalogue it,” she added.
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