02 November, 2007

Protected Areas

Commitment No 2: Ensure the Protection and Restoration of Key Habitats, Species and Landscape Features through Legislation and Appropriate Management Structures and Mechanisms, Including a Protected Areas Policy, and Attempt the Control and Eradication of Invasive Species. This was the second commitment made by the government of Anguilla, like other OT governments which in the year 2001 signed up to an Environmental Charter [link here] . Dr Mike Pienkowski is the Chairman of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum. He was engaged as a consultant to examine how we were performing under our Charter. He prepared a Report of August 2007. His Report measures performance by the year 2007 of UKOTs and the UK Government in implementing the 2001 Environment Charters. A copy of his 19-page Report can be read [link here].

According to the Report, we have not done very well in meeting this second commitment. The report records that Anguilla “lacks legislation to designate terrestrial protected areas, but such legislation has been drafted and awaits being put before the Legislative Assembly”. So, though we have six designated protected areas, they are not protected by law. That makes us the lone BOT, other than St Helena, with 0 acres of nature protected areas. Unlike most of the other territories, we have 0 key species with conservation action plans developed, completed, or being implemented. We have, unlike most of the other territories, done nothing to update our legislation to fill gaps in nature protection. We have not completed a review of invasive species problems. We appear to have no action plan to deal with invasive species.

I remember after Hurricane Louis. The green iguana, Iguana iguana [link here], arrived on our beaches floating on logs that came from Guadeloupe and Dominica where they had been uprooted by the storm and washed out to sea. Illegal immigrants! We were warned at the time that they posed a threat to our indigenous iguana, Iguana delicatissima [link here]. No one seems to be paying attention. Today, you can buy a locally bred illegal immigrant in any pet shop on the island. They are now considered almost local!

When I asked the Anguilla National Trust if they had any comment, they replied, While HMG and UKOTCF would like to see Anguilla implement more of the Charter, the truth is that Anguilla is in fact spending more resources implementing the St. George’s Declaration (SGD) and the National Environmental Management Strategy (NEMS) which all OECS countries signed back in 2001. The Principles of the SGD are far more relevant to our needs at this time and there is greater support coming from the OECS-ESDU. In fact, Anguilla has received several commendations from OECS with respects to the SGD & NEMS. Only St. Lucia (home of OECS Secretariat) is more advanced than us in the SGD’s implementation. What this report has not pointed out is that while Anguilla appears to have performed poorly, HMG has been reducing funding via its Overseas Territories Environment Programme (a funding facility) and that the same UKOTCF competes with UKOTs for funds from this facility to implement projects in UKOTs.”

Now, I know that the ANT is a statutory corporation and not a branch of government. But, the ANT is, in the Department of the Environment, the executive arm of government that implements the policies and programmes of government. Government is its largest funding source. The ANT speaks for government in the area of the environment. So, I suppose that reaction was only to be expected.

I do hope that when we make commitments we will put aside the funding to meet them.

Is that not what we are all supposed to do in our daily personal lives?


  1. Yes, I agree with the National Trust that the St. Georges Declaration's statement on invasive species is more relevant to Anguilla's needs than the shorter one contained in our Environmental Charter. It reads:

    Principle 13. Protecting Plant And Animal Species

    "The flora and fauna and the ecosystems of the region will be conserved and protected. At the same time, the people and authorities must prevent the introduction of alien and modified species which may have a negative impact on the environment and their health. Endangered species and their habitats will be secured and protected."

    So what has ANT done about it?

  2. Why is the National Trust being so defensive about this matter? Dr. Pienkowski's assessment is not about ANT; it's about Anguilla. Why does ANT seem to be acting like it's come under attack? Do they have something to hide? Why can't we all just speak the truth about what's really happening -- or not happening?

  3. The suggestion that the Conservation Forum has been siphoning off project funding that should go to Anguilla and other OTs is false and insulting. The Forum supports the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme, largely through the voluntary efforts of a large number of scientists, retired members of the Diplomatic Service and other professionals.

    OTEP is conducted transparently and is managed and funded by the FCO and DfID. If there were a bias in favour of the Forum they would have been responsible for approving it.

    Anyone interested in what projects OTEP has supported and who submitted the bids needs only go the Forum website: http://www.ukotcf.org/otep/awards.htm
    As we can see, of 22 projects approved in 2007, only one was submitted by the Forum, and was for work to benefit all territories, not to fund the Forum's core budget.

  4. Given the proliferation of the tropical bont tick, the pink mealy bug, the Cuban tree frog, the African snail and the "new" iguana, mice on Sombrero, rats everywhere else, an enormous herd of goats in Black Garden, a good size herd in Shoal Bay East and an immense one on Dog Island, I believe we have a severe invasives problem.

    I have no interest in whether ANT is dealing with this in accordance with the Environmental Charter, the St. Georges Declaration, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Treaty of Rome, the Convention on Migratory Species, the Ramsar Convention or the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. If I want to hear bureaucratic excuses for inaction, we have Ministers who seem to have been elected for the very purpose of providing them.

    While the National Trust is whining about how they're being victimised by a scientific assessment of their effectiveness, the friggin' snails have taken over the island. Ah vex! Show me the action plan for dealing with the snails.

  5. The National Trust designed a Project Plan which included the following:

    - Identify a limited number of priority sites for designation as Protected Areas to be managed by the National Trust.

    - Form a committee to develop and implement a strategy for securing a decision by GOA to designate the selected sites as Protected Areas and to apoint the Trust to manage them on its behalf.

    That was in 1994. 13 years later they are still saying the same things, but now they are pointing fingers at others for exposing their ineffectiveness and smooth-talking us about their unrelated achievements while acting like house slaves of the Minister of Lands.

    I fully support the stated objectives of the National Trust, but am profoundly disappointed in what they have delivered.

  6. i recently visited Anguilla and was shocked and appalled by the quantity of African snails that seems to be every where.I grew up there but was absent from the island for some time.Why is the gov't and those responsible for implementing the necessary measures to control these pests not taking the action required?ARe we going to wait until a health crisis result from the invasion of our beautiful island by these foreign species?Protection also entails eradication of harmful species that are nto local to our country.We can not afford to allow these foreign invaders to overrun our island at the expense of our indigenous species.We are obligated to act in the defense and for the preservation of these unfortunate creatures.Inaction will only result is a worst state of affairs for us ,because in the long run it will be more difficult to effectively exterminate these horible critter from our commmunities.Why shouild we be proud of having African snails,cuban frogs dominican iguana etc.Where is our plan of action to eradicate them or even control them for that matter?I am not happy or satisfies with the methods employed to stop this invation and i'm sure our people feel the same way too.,except those incharge of doing something about it.It is crazy to think that we are so vocal on frivolous issues such as who paid for the CM kidney or Who is bribing who,Indian wages, etc,where we are quite ready and willing to protest to the steps of the governors mansion, but on serious issues such as the protection and safeguarding of our environment we are so mute.Is this not worthy of our time and efforts?If money is the issues then the Businesses/persons who imported materials carrying eggs or lavae should assist in any plan of action taken.When Exxon tankers spilled their crude on Alaska beaches the had to help pay for the clean up and recovery so why is anybusiness on the island who are found negligent or partly responsible for our present situation any less liable?,

  7. "If the ecological integrity of Anguilla is allowed to deteriorate through improper actions it will damage Anguilla, its residents, and its economy forever."
    --Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources, in The Anguillian, current issue

  8. Iguanas is a delicacise in Dominica. Are you amaze we so many here. WIth immigration people also bring their culture. Also what about the Monkeys. Kittician love Monkey Meat.

  9. Five months ago, according to The Anguillian:
    the National Trust organised a "successful invasive species workshop" in which it was agreed that the Giant African Snail is having "devastating economic impacts on agricultural products" and, alarmingly, that it "can cause diseases which affect human health."

    A primary purpose of this "successful workshop" was to determine "actions that need to be undertaken." What specific actions have been taken on this issue? "Actions" are not meetings, plans, strategies, preaching, education, promises or sending out press releases about how healthy our reefs are. These amount to a cold war on snails, a "Sitzkreig". When does the real war against snails start? Show me the casualties!

  10. "Anguilla does not at present have in place solid instruments to ensure the protection of its natural beauty and richness of marine and terrestrial habitats and life, such crucial factors in making it an attractive tourist destination, will be safeguarded."
    --European Commission, January 2007

  11. The above-referenced report of the European Commission is very revealing. ANT states it has been working on the National Environmental Management Strategy instead of the Environmental Charter. The EU says this on page 42:

    • There has to date been little progress in implementing the Environmental Charter. For example there has been no bringing together of the major stakeholders to formulate a detailed strategy for action (Commitment 1 of the GoA).

    • There is not yet a national environmental action plan.

    • The land use plan has remained in draft form for over 10 years. A physical planning bill was introduced in 2005, but has not yet been enacted.

    • There is no comprehensive legislation for establishing and managing protected areas, despite the fact that draft legislation was prepared five years ago.

    "A draft National Environmental Management Strategy and Action Plan was formulated, but an overall policy statement outlining the government’s commitment to the prescribed actions was lacking, and the agencies responsible for implementing the recommended actions and the resources needed were not identified."

  12. Although in recent years I have distanced myself from the ANT because of my displeasure with the direction with which the organization is taking, I must jump to their defense somewhat. In no way I am defending the response of the ANT in an earlier blog, as the response was unfortunate. I believe what the writer was simply implying is that the commitments made by the Government of Anguilla in the Environmental Charter IS covered by the St. Georges Declaration. However, the SGD takes a more holistic approach where they not only look at the environment but the whole concept of sustainable development, which is why the lead agency for environmental matters in Anguilla has chosen to meet the commitments of the SGD. By meeting these commitments we WOULD also be addressing our commitments under the Environmental Charter.

    There is a general misconception (even amongst ANT Council members and staff) that the ANT is supposed to be some advocacy group or Government watch dog. However, if you read the ANT Act you would see that the organization was set up by the Government of the day, mainly to manage lands, properties and national heritage sites etc. vested to the Trust. However, over the years because of a strong and out spoken lady, who I very much admire, the Trust picked up the ‘advocacy/watch dog tag’. If people are so unhappy with the Trust, you can do something about it by joining the organization, and paying your annual fee (which is very small). By doing so, you would be able to guide the direction of the organization and have them do the type of work that you think they should be doing.

    I totally agree with Mr Mitchell in that, if we make commitments we should put aside the funding to meet them. In this regard the Government of Anguilla has TOTALLY failed which doesn’t even warrant a grade. They have not provided the funding to staff key Departments responsible for environmental protection in Anguilla; such as the Department of Environment, the Department of Fisheries, and the Water Lab all of which are grossly under-funded and under-staffed. Clearly we have not live up to our commitments under the St. George’s Declaration or the Environmental Charter.

    We have been talking about the other OTs such as the BVI, Bermuda, the Caymans, and TCI; but what is failed to be mentioned is that all of these territories have environmental agencies which are adequately staffed and funded (I know they are considerably richer). Let us take a look at the closest OT of those mentioned above – the government agency responsible for environmental protection in the BVI has a staffed of almost 60 persons, and when you add the BVI National Trust staff it totals 80 or more. The situation in Bermuda, the Caymans and TCI are also similar. Now contrast that with Anguilla, Department of Environment 4, Department of Fisheries 7, Water Lab 2, and ANT 3. Wow that is a grand total of 16 and when you take away admin. staff you have a situation where there is probably less than 10 technical staff at the agencies combined. So no wonder Anguilla is not meeting its environmental commitments under either the Environmental Charter or the St. George’s Declaration. Having said that, despite the short-comings of the agencies responsible for environmental protection in Anguilla a great deal is still being accomplished.

    As a correction to the posting on November 2 – yes Anguilla’s six protected areas are protected by law and where it is mentioned that ‘unlike most of the other territories we have done nothing to update our legislation to fill gaps in nature protection…’ this statement is inaccurate. Indeed, a great deal of work has been ongoing behind the scenes to update the existing environmental related legislation as well as the drafting of new environmental legislation to fill the gaps. The updated and new legislation will soon be submitted for public scrutiny and comment. I certainly hope that when that time comes everyone in this forum can contribute to the passing of the legislation by providing comments and reminding our elected officials of their commitments to environmental protection in Anguilla.

    In closing I reiterate that the Government of Anguilla has not live up to its commitments under the Environment Charter or SGD; indeed some agencies seem quite defensive when they should not be; and although we should highlight the few accomplishments in no way should we try to sugar coat the sorry state of environmental affairs in Anguilla. The first stage of solving a problem is first admitting that we have problem, and Anguilla DOES have a problem with regards to environmental protection. Now that we know there is a problem, what are we going to do about it?

  13. I appreciate the fact that "a great deal of work has been ongoing behind the scenes to update the existing environmental related legislation as well as the drafting of new environmental legislation to fill the gaps."

    Unfortunately, we have been hearing this same thing since the very early days of the Trust when the good Liz Subin was the first Director. While ANT has no authority to get legislation adopted, it has a lot of what the Chief Minister calls "moral suasion" through the power of the media. It has failed to use it, thus abetting government's inaction in protecting what hasn't already been bulldozed.

    On a small island, anyone who speaks out is very visible and many are afraid of being victimised if they are not supportive of those in office. For this reason, the smaller the island, the greater need there is for an environmental advocacy group. If this can't be Environment, Planning, Fisheries or ANT, who is it supposed to be? Is the future of our island's environment solely the responsibility of Mr. Mitchell? I pray to God that he lives forever, but what if the Lord thinks otherwise?

  14. If environmental advocacy isn't done by Environment, Planning, Fisheries or ANT, we leave it to Mr. Mitchell. If the Lord call he name, who will advocate for those who come after us? Dr. Pienkowski? Is it possible that an English ornithologist cares more about our part of the planet that we do?

    I think it's not only possible, it "should arose the most solemn reflections in the mind and conscience of every human being", as Sir Winston put it.

  15. The thoughtful writer above believes that ANT should not be an advocacy group.

    If I put a lot of time and effort into drafting legislation, and then I fail to advocate for its enactment, and things go on this way for years and years, I may have done a lot of work, but it's all wasted effort. It has no use. To put it more bluntly, I have caused myself to be useless by having prohibited myself from advocacy. I am useless.

    This may, in fact, explain why ANT persists in appearing ineffective in having prevented so many things on our island from going bad.

  16. The writer above asks, "Now that we know there is a problem, what are we going to do about it?"

    You and I and Mr. Mitchell know we have a problem. I feel powerless, alone and excluded. I need to support a group that will represent us.

    But all I have is ANT and the United Front. Not only do they not know there is a problem, they busy themselves putting out propaganda denying it.

    This is wrong. This is dishonest. Who is responsible? Is it the party or just the four men we have elected? Is it the Trust Council or just the people who work for them?

    I agree with the writer, "The first stage of solving a problem is first admitting that we have problem". But we discover that we are represented by those who deny the problem is serious.

  17. advocacy groups are good in that they often times force Gov't to enact policy or legislation to correct a wrong.It is amasing that we are not up to the task of utilizing this simple and most democratic of forms empowerment.There is strength in numbers and we have to work together to make this right.We cannot stand back and hope that someone will do it for us.Why trust our future in the hands of any one group or men?Action is only worthwhile if it is a product of the will of the populace.It is these advocacy groups who speak for the rest of us who are unwilling or afraid to because of harsh repercussions.Membership is vital to their exsistence and power,without it it survives only as a symbolic organization without any real clout.Ours is as country headed for disaster if we all fail to become actively involved with the process of protecting our environment and natural resources.Who among us is willing to take that stand with pride and courage ,ready to endure the sacrifices needed to fight against Gov't and power-struck officials intent on degrading and defiling our precious paradise?The power and will of our people collectively will prevail when we act en masse to protest or fight bad policy,legislation,corrupt pratices and corrupt officials.
    Fight the powers that be and make the fight worthwhile for our future and that of our childrens'.
    Make your voice heard not only in this blog but in your community,to your elected leaders and the media.
    The fear to act is just as bad as that action that condones a wrong action.Thus to act without fear is to put into motion actions which facilitate the end result that we are aspiring to achieve.


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