Island Resources Foundation (IRF) was established in 1972 in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands as a Caribbean-based, small-island-focused, and environment-themed non-governmental organization that would focus on a single central premise:
Islands are special places, their environments are unique and vulnerable, and the Foundation’s mission would be to assist small islands (especially those in the Caribbean) in meeting the challenges of social, economic and institutional growth while protecting and sustainably managing their environments.
To this mission — often abridged as “environmental planning for island development” — Island Resources Foundation would devote more than four decades of project-based research, educational outreach, information sharing, technical expertise and capacity building. The Foundation would find its talent and its forte in the identification and execution of externally funded programs, all of which reinforced its core mission.
With the sunsetting of the Foundation in 2016, its website was restructured. It is no longer an information platform for an operational institution but now a legacy site for the past achievements of the Foundation. This new website has been structured in four parts:
FIRST, a history and overview of the 44 years of the Foundation’s operations, found in the Legacy Section. In this section we also explain how friends and well-wishers can extend their support for the mission of the Foundation by donations to the Island Resources Foundation Legacy Fund.
SECONDLY, continuation (since 2006) of an open blog for presentation of news, issues, and discussion of developments in small island affairs around the world. This blog will also be used to present new island systems studies, as they come to users’ attention. For the time being, comments can be made on any blog posting in the conventional fashion, but original posts need to be sent via e-mail to IRF@IRF.ORG. Eventually any post can be made to the “News & Blog” page without editorial intervention.
THIRDLY, an extensive downloadable library of Foundation publications and other research documents, supported with powerful search tools, that contribute to an understanding of small island systems, including detailed environmental studies of Caribbean small islands over the past half-century and more (documents are from the IRF archives and other sources).
A brief explanation of how the downloadable library was developed: In 2015, the Foundation began a process of scanning, digitally cataloguing and placing on its IRF.ORG website the more than 300 reports, documents, and publications produced by Island Resources Foundation over its 44-year history. These documents have now been indexed using a template that is compatible with existing digital library systems such as the Digital Library of the Caribbean and proposed record formats for the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) in the British Virgin Islands, an institution with which IRF collaborated for almost 20 years. These documents have been integrated with other publications already on the IRF website and can be accessed using the tools described in the Search page.
Additionally, in 2015, the Foundation, in partnership with the HLSCC in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, began a similar process for the the approximate 10,000 reference documents currently housed in the Dr. Edward L. Towle Island Systems Environmental Information Collection at the College’s Learning Resource Centre in Tortola. These documents represent the core of the Foundation’s environmental library, established by IRF founder, Ed Towle, in the 1970s and donated to the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the late 1990s. (Click this document to read about the historical development and physical dimensions of the IRF environmental library.)
The process of converting hard-copy documents from the Towle Collection to digital copies will be continued by staff at the College’s Learning Resource Centre, and all scanned and catalogued documents will be added to those already on the IRF.ORG website and on the website of the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. The digital indexing and cataloguing of Towle Collection documents will be funded, in part, by the Island Resources Foundation Legacy Fund, established at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, USVI) in 2016.
FINALLY, outside of the website itself, but another important element of the Foundation’s legacy, there are several e-mail groups still being supported which are listed at this page and on the downloadable document: irf-mailing-lists