Caribbean dream

29 September 2010 | News story

The 2010 target set by governments to reduce biodiversity loss may not have been reached but the thousands of actions taken by partners to IUCN's 'Countdown 2010' initiative are an important step towards the improved status of biodiversity and increased public awareness.

The Seaflower Marine Protected Area (MPA) was created in 2005 thanks to the leadership of IUCN Member, Coralina—the Corporation for the Sustainable Development of the Archipelago of San Andrés, Old Providence and Santa Catalina, a department of Colombia in the Caribbean and the support of the local and national governments.

Seaflower is the largest MPA in the Great Caribbean and one of the largest on the planet. Important financial resources from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank have been allocated to implement the MPA Management Plan, and ensure its sustainability. Seaflower has been nominated to become a World Heritage Site.

Coralina’s action focuses on environmental planning, management and research, and conservation in the Archipelago. It has implemented the first phase of the recovery plan for the queen conch (Strombus gigas), which is threatened by commercialization in the Caribbean and has protected a vast territory which includes deep waters that are ecologically important. The agency also works to raise local awareness of the conservation and sustainable use of coastal marine resources and to engage local communities and institutions in their co-management.

Before

Since the 1950s the archipelago of Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina had suffered from a gradual loss of biodiversity, including its coastal marine resources. The biodiversity of the islands has been affected by several threats such as invasive species, over-exploitation of fisheries and deterioration of important habitats such as tropical dry-forests, sea-grass, mangroves and coral reefs—unique habitats in the Caribbean Region.

Now

More than 200,000 hectares of corals, mangroves and sea-grasses in the Archipelago are now protected. Coralina has the ensured protection, conservation and sustainable use of more than 400 fish species and many other marine species including corals, jellyfish, reptiles, cetaceans, birds, sea-grasses and mangroves. Several reproductive colonies of marine birds and the largest diversity of soft corals in the Western Caribbean are now preserved.

This is one of 20 success stories from Countdown 2010 partners around the world which have helped to make a difference for biodiversity, highlighted in a new publication Made in Countdown 2010. At the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, one Countdown 2010 partner from those included in this publication will receive the Countdown 2010 Biodiversity Award. The prize aims to reward the best action for biodiversity within the Countdown 2010 network. All success stories and information can be found at: www.countdown2010.net/made-in-countdown.