Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

Assessment of Current Investment

Caribbean Islands

Assessment of Current Investment

This assessment describes the most important recent investments in biodiversity conservation in the insular Caribbean, gleaned from organization Web sites, personal contacts with these organizations, and from the recipients of these funds. Projects are described that have direct benefits for biodiversity conservation, including those related to climate change and adaptation. Projects active in 2009 or planned for the near future are included. A listing of individual projects is provided in Appendix 3, and a summary of the key findings is in Box 4 below.

The unique history of the insular Caribbean has given rise to at least three very different forms of government that have helped to determine the kinds of conservation investments made in each type. The developing independent nations (the Dominican Republic is the largest) have attracted by far the most “external” funding from multilateral (especially GEF), bilateral and private sources. Almost all multilateral aid is provided to and through national government agencies, with the exception of the GEF Small Grants Program. The overseas territories of the United States and several European countries (France, the Netherlands and UK) have received funding from programs in their home countries, although they have not always been able to compete well for those funds. Finally, the centrally planned economy of Cuba, the largest Caribbean island, while having significant multilateral investments has been able to attract few other donors.

Major Sources of Investment

National Government Expenditure

Expenditures on biodiversity conservation by the more than 30 governmental entities in the Caribbean are not readily available, a problem compounded by divided and sometimes overlapping jurisdictions for natural resources management. To illustrate the approximate scale of these expenditures, the forestry department of a larger island reports a budget for 2008 of approximately $293,000, while the environment agency of that island reports a budget of approximately $2.86 million.

Bilateral and Multilateral Donors

GEF is providing the most significant recent conservation funding in the region, and much of the bilateral and national funding for the region is directed to co-finance these projects. About $39 million in GEF funds (plus more than that in co-finance) are committed over the next several years to biodiversity conservation (to protected areas, for example) and climate change adaptation, while additional funds will provide indirect benefits through sustainable development and watershed protection projects. These investments are concentrated mainly, but not exclusively in the larger independent countries of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica.

Three of the largest Caribbean countries (Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica) are each about to begin large-scale projects to strengthen their existing protected areas systems, funded by the GEF through UNDP. These Full-Size Projects will provide approximately $3 million to each of the responsible ministries over five to six years, which will be matched by $6 million to $8 million in co-financing from both national and international sources. These projects will seek to 1) create sustainable financing mechanisms, 2) establish co-management capabilities, 3) improve management operations, and 4) integrate the protected area system in legislative and policy frameworks (in Jamaica). A similar regional project for the OECS countries (Lesser Antilles) is concluding in 2009; its aim was to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity of global importance by removing barriers to the effective management of protected areas and by increasing the involvement of civil society and the private sector in the planning, management and sustainable use of these areas. GEF provides $3.7 million for this OECS Protected Areas and Associated Livelihoods Project, and it is co-financed with $2 million from the Organization of American States and the Fonds Francais de l’Environnement Mondial. Continued funding is sought to continue the advances made in this project.

Additional multilateral funding is currently being exercised in the developing independent nations through a number of venues. A GEF/UNEP multi-island project, Mitigating the Threats of Invasive Alien Species in the Insular Caribbean, is providing $2.6 million plus co-financing in a broad partnership that is focusing on the development of national strategies, establishment of a strategy and Caribbean-wide cooperation, improvement of information management, prevention of introductions of invasive alien species and early detection. Participating countries include the Bahamas, Cuba (initial phase only), the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and St Lucia.

UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (one of its Regional Seas Programs) aims to promote regional co-operation for the protection and development of the marine environment of the Wider Caribbean Region. The program has several ongoing projects focusing on wastewater, pollution and a special program on communication, education, training and awareness, but none directly addressing biodiversity conservation.

Bilateral aid from developed countries represents another important source of funding for the developing independent countries of the Caribbean, some of which is provided as co-financing for the GEF projects described above. Each national donor agency seems to specialize in a given portfolio of recipient countries, often based upon historical or commonwealth affiliations. In a complex and overlapping array of aid, the EU and individual member countries all have international development programs. Under the EU’s European Development Fund, several programs relate directly to biodiversity conservation, including the Caribbean Regional Environment Programme and the Cross-border Environmental Programme (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). The French Government, along with the Italian Government, has funded the opening of a Caribbean Initiative by IUCN. The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development invests primarily in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti; it has supported sustainable development activities in the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve. Germany’s GTZ targets the Dominican Republic via a capacity building project on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which focuses on advice and training to smallholders for the development of sustainable management plans, upgrading forestry practices and securing usage rights. The U.K.’s Department for International Development has a wider portfolio in the Commonwealth Caribbean (e.g. Barbados, Bahamas, others), and Italy has invested in Cuba and Hispaniola.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency has supported the development of marine fisheries and seafood processing facilities in a number of countries. The U.S. Agency for International Development supports sustainable development activities in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and in Haiti there is a special focus on reforestation to reduce vulnerability to erosion and natural disasters. The Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), also managed by USAID, is an innovative debt-for-nature swap mechanism that is providing about $16 million over 20 years (beginning 2004) to Jamaica. The funding is distributed in a grants program run by the Environment Foundation of Jamaica, and includes funding from The Nature Conservancy. The Canadian International Development Agency is active throughout the Caribbean, with a particular emphasis on forest management and conservation.

GEF recently approved funding for full-sized biodiversity conservation projects, as well as small grants to community–level projects, in Cuba. A $5.7 million project is underway to improve management of protected areas in the coastal zone of the southern archipelagos. While most of the co-finance is provided by the host government, World Wildlife Fund–Canada provides $500,000. In the northern archipelagos, a $4 million project would address conservation by working closely with three productive sectors: tourism, fisheries and sugar.

The U.S. and EU islands have generally benefitted from conservation programs originating in their home countries. In Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, for example, U.S. government agencies manage thousands of hectares of national forests, parks and wildlife refuges, protecting some of the most significant biodiversity in the Caribbean. National government programs like Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration and the Endangered Species Program distribute several million dollars annually to territorial conservation. Because of the Caribbean’s importance to birds that migrate through the region or remain for the nonbreeding season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has supported conservation projects there through the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act grants program. Several hundred thousand dollars annually go toward protecting and restoring habitats, providing environmental education and outreach, and compiling important data in Puerto Rico and throughout the region (with the exception of Cuba). The British Islands have benefitted from the Overseas Territories Environment Program and the Darwin Initiative. The French Islands are Départements of France, fully integrated into the national agencies. Conservation in the Dutch Islands has been consolidated with the creation of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance.

International Organizations and Foundations

With just a small number of notable exceptions, investments from international organizations and foundations in the developing independent countries have been relatively limited in the Caribbean. BirdLife International is focusing on conservation action at Important Bird Areas, working with Local Conservation Groups through its partners and wider network of collaborating NGOs. BirdLife is currently investing about $1.3 million on site-based actions in seven countries with the support of Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, Denmark; British Birdwatching Fair; Neotropical Migratory Bird Act- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Canadian International Development Agency; and individual donors. The Nature Conservancy pursues many conservation activities from its Caribbean offices. In the Bahamas, for example, The Nature Conservancy and the Bahamas National Trust have trained and organized teams to address invasive species and fire control issues in protected areas. Rare supports Pride campaigns in the Bahamas, St. Lucia, and Belize to build local support for conserving the spiny lobster, wetland bird habitat and rare iguana species. Also present are Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (U.K., with an office in St. Lucia; habitat restoration, invasive species control, research and monitoring as well as some ex situ species conservation, focused on St. Lucia, Antigua, Montserrat, Cayman Islands and Dominican Republic) and Fauna and Flora International (U.K.; building capacity in the management of forests and protected areas, invasive species control, and recovery of threatened species, currently focused on St. Lucia, Anguilla and Antigua and Barbuda). FFI and Island Conservation have projects underway to eradicate invasive species from smaller islands.

In regard to private foundations, the MacArthur Foundation is currently supporting more than 20 projects in the Caribbean that target conservation of important biodiversity areas as well as climate change and good governance. While several of these are about to be completed (including two major assessments related to climate change), the remaining 14 projects total approximately $4.3 million. Several of the MacArthur Foundation projects are focused on key biodiversity areas, such as Cockpit Country in Jamaica and Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquecillo Biosphere Reserve in the Dominican Republic, as well as natural resources and protected area management in Cuba. However, investment in biodiversity conservation by other private foundations is uncommon, and those foundations that are funding environment projects are not focused on the conservation outcomes identified in the ecosystem profile. The Christopher Reynolds Foundation has funded a small number of grants of less than $50,000 to U.S.-based organizations dedicated to building conservation capacity in Cuba. Both the Sandler and Kaplan foundations have also provided modest grants for marine conservation in the region.

Box 4. Current Investments in Biodiversity Conservation in the Insular Caribbean Approximately $54 million is currently invested in biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation. Of that:
  • $39 million (72 percent) is from multilateral sources
  • $10 million (18 percent) is from bilateral sources
  • $5 million (10 percent) is from private sources

  • $34 million (63 percent) is going to CEPF eligible countries
  • $20 million (37 percent) is going to non-CEPF countries

  • $45 million (84 percent) is going to governments
  • $5 million (10 percent) is going to international organizations
  • $2 million (3 percent) is going to Caribbean organizations
  • $2 million (3 percent) is to be determined

  • $7 million (12 percent) is going to key biodiversity areas
Investments are concentrated in the larger independent countries: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica.

Note: Figures do not include sustainable development or marine projects.

Summarized Investment for the Region

Overview of Funding for Various Countries in the Region

GEF is the most important external funder, with tens of millions of dollars in current conservation related investments in the Insular Caribbean. This “centerpiece” of investment has attracted tens of millions more as co-finance both directly to these projects and through compatible projects, mainly from bilateral donors, but also from a few private organizations and from national governments. All of the independent countries have benefitted from GEF funding, although the larger among them (Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti) have garnered the most. Bilateral funding from developed countries is the next most important, with several million in current investment beyond the co-finance referenced above. Bilateral funding has tended to follow donor country preferences, sometimes based upon commonwealth or historical connections.

The Caribbean has attracted only a few private organizations and foundations. The MacArthur Foundation has made the Caribbean one of its regional foci in recent years. Unlike in some other hotspots of biological diversity, where conservation interests have successfully worked with the private sector (for example, with plantation agriculture or cattle ranching), there has been little such cooperation in the Caribbean from large-scale tourism or from mining.

Key Strategic Funding Initiatives

The Government of the Netherlands has begun fundraising to capitalize a protected areas trust fund for the Dutch Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao and St. Maarten). This endowment fund would be managed by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), and would provide a portion of the annual funding for NGOs to manage these areas. The Dutch islands and DCNA have also secured longer-term commitments from Dutch sources like the Dutch Postcode Lottery through Vogelbescherming Nederland (BirdLife in the Netherlands).

A payment for environmental services (PES) scheme has recently been created in the Dominican Republic. A fund (Fondo de Ecodesarrollo de la Cuenca) has been created to finance land conservation activities (fire control, reforestation, erosion control, sustainable coffee) as part of a larger UNDP project Demonstrating Sustainable Land Management in the Upper Watershed of the Sabana Yegua Dam, with partial funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Such schemes have generally not been implemented elsewhere in the Caribbean, although the larger GEF projects on sustainable financing for protected areas promote these schemes (these projects are just approved). The Windsor Research Centre is developing similar economic incentives in two Jamaican watersheds with assistance from the MacArthur Foundation.

Thematic Distribution of Investment

With GEF and some bilateral co-finance going to national government ministries, the majority of funding for biodiversity conservation in the Insular Caribbean is therefore to public agencies. The dominant theme for this funding is protected areas management ($18 million in GEF funds alone); indeed, a common element for these projects is the establishment of sustainable financing mechanisms for their management. Some of the Caribbean NGOs have co-management responsibilities (for example, Bahamas National Trust) or are otherwise concentrated on protected areas and thus have an important partnership role in ensuring success.

Mainstreaming of environment into the economic sector is a high priority for many donors, and this objective is evident in the numerous projects focusing on agriculture, tourism and infrastructure. For instance, the need to consider environment in other sectors is heavily promoted in European Community development policy and programs in the region. In addition, a number of environmental projects have a key component on mainstreaming conservation into other sectors, such as the $4.3 million UNDP-GEF project Mainstreaming and Sustaining Biodiversity Conservation in Three Productive Sectors of the Sabana Camaguey Ecosystem in Cuba.

GEF and some bilateral funders have targeted the problem of land degradation, especially in Haiti and with mixed success. Reforestation, soil conservation and watershed protection activities have indirect benefits for biodiversity. GEF and other funding for climate change adaptation have taken off in recent years, and these also include addressing land degradation, as well as protection of mangroves and other beneficial activities.

Community-based organizations have benefitted from funding for conservation-related activities in the buffer zones of protected areas. The GEF Small Grants program and other funders have provided funding for compatible agriculture, conservation forestry and ecotourism development in such areas, however at a considerably smaller scale. There is potential for significant conservation benefit through an organized approach to these areas, in some cases linked into biological corridors.

Investment in Key Biodiversity Areas

Some of the region’s key biodiversity areas are located within existing protected areas systems and may therefore receive some level of government investment. Key biodiversity areas within protected areas would also benefit from national-level GEF projects whose objectives include improved management and sustainable financing (for example the project Strengthening Operational and Financial Sustainability of the National Protected Area System in Jamaica). However, few of these protected areas are adequately managed, and some are not managed at all. Thus the needs are significant, and the amount of funding likely to filter down to individual protected areas and key biodiversity areas is relatively small. While protected areas projects provide for agencies to forge and participate in co-management schemes, the funding does not support civil society and hence a critical component for sustainability.

Two of Haiti’s key biodiversity areas—Massif de la Hotte and Massif de la Selle—are both among the most important key biodiversity areas in the world and have ongoing and proposed multilateral and bilateral investments to address land degradation and watershed conservation that, if successfully implemented, would have significant benefits for these sites. These key biodiversity areas, however, and their conservation challenges, are large and there is a need to focus investment directly on biodiversity within the larger conservation and sustainable development context. There is clearly a role for the growing network of Haitian conservation NGOs to more directly address biodiversity and complement these larger efforts.

Only about 12 percent of the external investments described in this profile (approximately $7 million) is directed to NGOs, and only a smaller portion of this investment (about $2 million) is allocated to organizations based in the Caribbean Hotspot. While the Canadian International Development Agency, for example, has been exceedingly generous in support of Caribbean conservation, none of the funds go directly to Caribbean NGOs. While Caribbean NGOs will participate in these projects, it is beyond the scope of this profile to determine exactly how much funding they will receive. Caribbean NGOs receive most of their support via small grants from national sources, with a much smaller portion coming from international donors.

Document: The Caribbean Islands Ecosystem Profile, January 2010
English (PDF - 1.63 MB) / Français (PDF - 2.6 MB)