Resource Protection

. . . The small size of the Eastern Caribbean belies the rich biodiversity it supports. Typical of islands, the biota of the Lesser Antilles contains a relatively high percentage of single-island and regional endemics which, by definition, occur only here. The islands and their surrounding waters also support many migratory animals — endangered marine turtles, more than two dozen species of whales and dolphins, and some 150 bird species.

[Bruce Horwith, IRF Biodiversity Program Documents, 1994]

In the early 1970s, there were few active environmental organizations in the Caribbean. In the absence of broad collective responses to emerging threats to natural resources, many of the Foundation’s earliest initiatives centered on conservation and environmental protection issues. Thus — long before it was called “biodiversity conservation” — Island Resources Foundation launched its own commitment to species protection in the region. It began with a turtle-tagging program that extended over six nesting seasons and resulted in the tagging of over twelve hundred green sea turtles at isolated, uninhabited Aves Island , a primary nesting site for this endangered species.

Gradually, the Foundation’s unique and traditional preoccupation with small island systems was balanced by a broader focus on conservation and protection issues. IRF provided counsel and professional planning assistance for many of the park and protected area systems that emerged in the region in the 1980s — including Antigua, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Panama (offshore islands), Jamaica, St. Kitts, Trinidad, and Venezuela (coastal park) — and continued into the twenty-first century with a seven-year assistance program for the National Parks Trust in the British Virgin Islands. The Foundation’s priorities were always to encourage a Caribbean environmental ethic, to help conserve lands for public use, to promote environmental sustainability, and to support partnerships between public and private sector interests.

In the early 1990s, biodiversity conservation emerged as a newer, more holistic program emphasis. For the Foundation, it represented a logical extension of its more than 20-years of commitment to Caribbean conservation. In 1993 — in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and with partner organizations and government agencies in Eastern Caribbean islands — the Foundation launched a new regional biodiversity conservation initiative.

The overall goal of the program was to facilitate and strengthen a process for improved national decision-making on strategic environmental issues, including the protection and preservation of threatened natural resources. IRF’s biodiversity program strategy was shaped by four elements: (1) support for technical studies and research; (2) expansion of the region’s biodiversity information base; (3) strengthening institutional and individual biodiversity capabilities; and (4) linking public and private sector interests in support of biodiversity programs. Biodiversity conservation would provide a conceptual basis for much of the Foundation’s programmatic development from the 1990s onward.

Learn More

Shipwrecks of the Virgin Islands: An Inventory – 1523 to 1825 by Edward L. Towle, Robert F. Marx, and Alan B. Albright (2nd edition, December 1976):  a popular report published early-on by Island Resources Foundation and available by clicking on the title above.

Sandy Cay, British Virgin Islands – A Field Trip Slide Show, February 2004 [ppt]

Manual para el Monitoreo de Arrecifes de Coral en el Caribe y el Atlántico Occidental [PDF] —  the Spanish-language version of the US National Park Service’s standard procedures for monitoring coral reefs. 

Resources for the Fish Bay, St. John (US Virgin Islands) Watershed:
Fish Bay Association Map
Poster of Fish Bay Sediment Issues by Carlos Ramos (5 mb), 2007
Fish Bay Native Plant Garden Manual — Fish Bay Association, 2008
Archeological Reconnaissance of Fish Bay by Dave Davis, 2003
Endangered Plants of Fish Bay by Jean-Pierre Bacle and Kevel Lindsay, 2006
Trees in the Fish Bay Flat Land by Gail Karlsson, E. Gibney, Brian Oldfield, and E. Oldfield. A field guide to the trees of the Fish Bay watershed and report on a volunteer community-awareness project. [Note that this is a 4.77 megabyte file. Alternatively, you can download this 3.56 megabyte .PDF (Adobe Acrobat) version at TREES report.pdf, but with less flexibility in your ability to cut-and-paste.]
Historic Land Use in Reef Bay, Fish Bay, and Hawksnest Watersheds, by George Tyson, in VIRMC Report #19, 1987
Sedimentation and Reef Development in Hawksnest, Fish, and Reef Bays, by Dennis Hubbard, et. al, in VIRMC Report #21, 1987
Fish Bay Watershed Assessment: Recommendations for a Road Erosion Control Program, by Carlos Ramos, 2007
MEASURING AND PREDICTING EROSION AND SEDIMENT YIELDS ON ST. JOHN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, Doctoral dissertation submitted by Carlos E. Ramos-Scharron, to the Department of Geosciences, Colorado State University, Spring 2004. This five-megabyte zipped file contains both the dissertation document and the Arc Info GIS system developed by Dr. Ramos-Scharron to predict erosion and sediment yields in Fish Bay, St. John and other watersheds on St. John.
Fish Bay Photos, including Aerials and Satellite Images:
Fish Bay Overview Photo (small)