Saint Lucia is part of the Lesser Antilles, an arc of volcanic peaks located in the Eastern Caribbean. Though the island has a relatively small landmass, it possesses a high degree of biodiversity and species endemism and productive coastal and nearshore habitats, earning it international recognition as a biodiversity hotspot. The island and its waters support a number of globally and regionally important habitats and species, including 17 major vegetation types (e.g., dry forest, mangroves, rainforest), the Pitons Management Area United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization World Heritage site, the Ma Koté Mangrove and Savannes Bay Ramsar sites, and over 200 endemic species (e.g., the pygmy gecko, the Saint Lucia racer snake, and the Saint Lucia parrot). Saint Lucia’s marine habitats and biodiversity provide ecosystem services that buffer the impacts of storms and climate change, provide residents with valuable natural resources and opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, and support economically important agriculture and tourism industries.
Saint Lucia’s valuable marine ecosystems face increasing pressure from a suite of threats.The Revised Second National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) and the Fifth National Biodiversity Report for Saint Lucia identify habitat loss and fragmentation, overharvesting, pollution (including noise pollution affecting marine organisms), climate change and introduction of invasive species as top threats to the country’s biodiversity. The Fifth National Biodiversity Report for Saint Lucia emphasizes that although some important achievements have been made since the Fourth Report in 2009, Saint Lucia’s biodiversity continues to be characterized by loss of forests, declines in the population size and range of major species, and threats to species caused by habitat conversion for development purposes.
Threats and Pressures to Marine Ecosystems (Online Survey)
Top threats identified by respondents in a survey conducted by the SLUNCF included climate change and development and transformation of coastal areas, with 80% and 73% of respondents respectively selecting these issues as one of their top threats