Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity


Caribbean Islands


This ecosystem profile and five-year investment strategy for the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot has been developed by BirdLife International (Caribbean Program) in collaboration with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust / Bath University, and the New York Botanical Garden, with technical support from Conservation International’s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science.

Initial research and analysis at the regional level of easily accessible information sources provided draft biodiversity and thematic (or contextual) priorities that were subsequently reviewed by experts within the hotspot. The profiling process incorporated regional stakeholder expertise through three national workshops and one hotspot-wide workshop. Two-day national workshops were held in Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica during June 2009, coordinated by Grupo Jaragua, Société Audubon Haiti and BirdLife Caribbean Program. They were attended by almost 100 individuals representing 58 institutions that assisted in analyzing current threats to biodiversity, inventorying conservation and development investment taking place within the region, and defining the biological site priorities. The hotspot-wide workshop was held in July 2009 on Antigua as an integral part of the 17th Regional Meeting of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds. It was attended by more than 70 experts and contributors that helped review the Key Biodiversity Areas and also discuss the investment niche and strategy. National profile coordinators in Bahamas (Bahamas National Trust), Dominican Republic (Grupo Jaragua), Haiti (Société Audubon Haiti), Jamaica (BirdLife), Lesser Antilles (BirdLife on Barbados) and Puerto Rico (Sociedad Ornitológica Puertorriqueña) facilitated the gathering of information and review of priorities within their own countries. As a result (and in addition to the contributions made during the workshops), at least 200 individual experts representing more than 160 institutions have contributed to the ecosystem profile.

This profile focuses on conservation outcomes—biodiversity targets against which the success of investments can be measured—as the scientific basis for determining CEPF’s geographic and thematic focus for investment. Such targets must be achieved by the global community to prevent species extinctions and halt biodiversity loss. These targets are defined at three levels: species (extinctions avoided), sites (areas protected) and landscapes (corridors consolidated). As conservation in the field succeeds in achieving these targets, these targets become demonstrable results or outcomes. While CEPF cannot achieve all of the outcomes identified for a region on its own, the partnership is trying to ensure that its conservation investments are working toward preventing biodiversity loss and that its success can be monitored and measured.

The development of the profile has been informed by a number of priority-setting exercises undertaken in the Caribbean during recent years, most notably Important Bird Areas in the Caribbean: key sites for conservation (BirdLife International 2008). Other important priority-setting and profiling exercises that have been used include The Nature Conservancy’s ecoregional plan Biodiversity Conservation Assessment of the Insular Caribbean (Huggins et al. 2007); IUCN’s Situation Analysis for the Wider Caribbean (Brown et al. 2007); and AGRIFOR Consult’s report for the European Commission Caribbean Regional Environmental Profile (AGRIFOR Consult 2009). Information concerning sea turtle nesting beaches was secured from the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network. Nationally, various gap assessment reports (e.g. the national Ecological Gap Assessment in Jamaica) have been referred to and used to inform biological and thematic priorities.

The marine realm is not a significant focus for this profile because the region merits its status as a hotspot due to threats to its terrestrial biodiversity. In addition, there is extensive information and investment currently focused on marine conservation in the Caribbean. The Caribbean Challenge, for example, is a landmark initiative in which Caribbean governments have pledged to expand their marine protected areas systems to include at least 20 percent of their near-shore area by 2020, develop sustainable financing for these systems and develop climate change adaptation projects. The initiative has secured more than $45 million in commitments from the international donor and environment community, much of it to support marine conservation. With the Caribbean Challenge’s extensive coverage of the marine realm, the Caribbean’s highest-priority unmet need for biodiversity conservation lays in the terrestrial realm. Furthermore, the terrestrial realm is where Caribbean civil society has a comparative advantage and critical role to play due to its unique knowledge and experience working on land and coastal conservation. However, this ecosystem profile does consider the marine environment and particularly some of the Caribbean’s most important coastal and near-shore habitats in recognition of their global biological importance and benefits to people.
Document: The Caribbean Islands Ecosystem Profile, January 2010
English (PDF - 1.63 MB) / Français (PDF - 2.6 MB)