Goat Islands Wildlife Sanctuary gets support
The Urban Development Corporation’s (UDC) Goat Islands Wildlife Sanctuary project has received technical services from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) valued at approximately US$50,000. The conservation organisation has supported the UDC’s work at Goat Islands and Old Harbour Bay through the sharing of research data and providing other critical services, including extensive drone mapping.
The TNC, via the climate adaptation initiative Resilient Islands, has continued its collaboration with the UDC to advance these significant projects of ecological benefit. Resilient Islands is a partnership between the TNC and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to help communities adapt to climate change in the Caribbean. In collaboration with the Jamaica Red Cross, this initiative is promoting the use of coastal habitats, such as those found in Old Harbour Bay and Goat Islands, to reduce climate risks. Resilient Islands also develops the research and tools that empower governments, partners and communities to implement sustainable development plans that prioritise nature, and promotes a shift in behaviour and policies to include the protection of natural infrastructure as integral to Jamaica’s long-term economic and social development.
The UDC has benefited from this collaboration, specifically as it continues its pre-assessment of Goat Islands towards the establishment of a wildlife sanctuary. To aid the pre-assessment, the TNC donated extensive drone-mapping data to the corporation. This data will be used in the zoning of the Goat Islands, to identify potential areas for development, identification of potential nesting areas for the Jamaican iguana, and the identification of the potential areas for the reintroduction of the various endemic plants and animals. This data, which amounts to approximately US$47,000, was officially handed over to the UDC on Friday 26.
The corporation and its partners have been collecting baseline data on the flora and fauna of the Great Goat Island as a part of the management plan for the establishment of the wildlife sanctuary. Sara Simpson, director, natural resource management and environment planning at UDC, expressed the significance of this donation. “This contribution from the TNC will go a long way in bringing the Goat Islands Wildlife Sanctuary to life. The drone mapping and imaging will complement the extensive pre-assessment work that has to go into the project. Given that Goat Islands has many elements that are uniquely Jamaican, including the reintroduction of the Jamaican iguana to the space, the TNC’s support is of national consequence. The UDC is exceedingly grateful to the TNC for their support.”
UDC’s deputy general manager in charge of planning development and project management, Loy Malcolm, spoke to the importance of data in planning and development. “Data is essential to what we do at the UDC as it guides our decision-making processes, and because this project will have a major development benefit for the country, this partnership with the TNC is significant.”
“I would liken the environment to the body’s white blood cells, in that it protects and defends us; as such, we must make every effort to protect our environment. At the UDC, we believe that conservation is a critical part of sustainable development. Consequently, the work at Goat Islands must be guided with the right background information from the onset.”
The TNC’s contribution went even further to include satellite imagery of Goat Islands that will be used in the analysis of the drone mapping to conduct ecological assessments and geographic information system analysis. The TNC has also committed to conducting a rapid ecological assessment of the Old Harbour Bay. This will provide baseline data to inform the development of the Goat Islands and its nearby communities.
In speaking to the contribution, Donna Blake, Jamaica programme director, TNC, stated: “At the TNC, we endeavour to be proactive in finding natural solutions to address and reduce climate change risks, and these solutions are at the heart of the Resilient Islands programme. As such, it was a natural fit to partner with the UDC and share resources as we collectively work to protect and restore natural ecosystems and, thereby, improve the resilience of our coastal communities, and protect and augment the management of our unique Jamaican habitats and the associated wildlife.”
To learn more about Resilient Islands, please visit www.coastalresilience.org/resilient-islands.