The Biodiversity Conservation and Management Section concluded its Policy Creation Workshop on the Management of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) on the 23rd of October 2023. This workshop continued engagement with the public and private sectors to highlight the many threats that IAS pose to our ecosystems, economy, and health, and the tools and strategies we can employ to manage them and proactively prevent their spread to and from Barbados. This forum also allowed stakeholders to share their concerns, identify potential shortcomings, and come up with solutions to these problems together.
Invasive species are non-native plants, animals or microorganisms that threaten a country’s ecosystems, economy, or public health. They have the potential to cause damage to many of our public and private sector stakeholders. Giant African snails, for instance, damage ornamental plants in nurseries, the crops in fields and small subsistence kitchen gardens. As a result, they directly lead to loss of money through crop failure, reducing outputs, making plants look less appealing to buyers, and increasing costs as growers must spend money on pesticides to prevent snails from attacking their plants. Mongooses attack fowl and their eggs and chicks in poultry farms and people’s backyards, leading to injury and loss of animals and eggs. Mongooses also target the nests of Critically Endangered hawksbill sea turtles, impacting Barbados’ natural ecosystems. To read more about mongoose predation on turtle nests and work to manage this threat, you can follow this link. Recently, the New Guinea flatworm has been recorded in Barbados. This small species of flatworm is known to carry rat lungworm in other territories it has invaded. Rat lungworm, if ingested by humans, can cause meningitis.
These negative effects are costly to both the public and private sector so preventing invasive species from getting to Barbados and controlling or even eradicating those already on-island are important. Barbados has no national laws that specifically address invasive species management. This is where the National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan (NISSAP) comes in. The NISSAP outlines 10 goals with 50 actions and 20 strategic objectives to guide all stakeholders who have a role to play or an interest in invasive species management. These goals are:
- Improved regulatory frameworks,
- Enhanced technical capacity,
- Public awareness and engagement,
- Stronger preventative measures,
- Improved surveillance,
- Information sharing and knowledge management,
- National collaboration and cooperation,
- Regional collaboration and cooperation,
- Mainstreaming IAS,
- Committed financial support.
Invasive species detection, prevention, management and research are relevant to several entities. These include but are not limited to plant nurseries, since pests can negatively impact their plants, the University of the West Indies, as subjects to research on their impacts on native species and ecosystems, pet shops, as invasive pathogens or parasites may infect their stock, and public sector departments such as Plant and Veterinary Quarantine sections which screen incoming organisms at ports of entry. Representatives from these and other stakeholders participated in the NISSAP workshop.
The draft NISSAP was summarised at the workshop, including its contributions to conventions that Barbados participates in, like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), as well as existing policy documents, such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2020 (NBSAP). Barbados is already obligated to pursue the control, eradication, or prevention of the introduction of invasive species under the CBD, and the GBF outlines a target to reduce the effects of invasive species by 50% by the year 2030. The NBSAP, laid in Parliament in January 2023, speaks to identifying and managing invasive species and the avenues that they are introduced to the island. Potential sources for financial resources to support invasive species control and prevention were identified and, finally, the communication strategy to engage the wider public was discussed.
Participants then separated into groups to discuss potential challenges, gaps, and concerns about the actions and objectives of the NISSAP from their unique perspectives. Each group wrote down and mapped their recommendations onto fabric boards, organising them into their respective themes. Through this engaging session, input was provided by multiple specialists and businesses to ensure that the needs of all involved are addressed. At the end of the workshop, attendees stressed the importance of making the necessary measures straight-forward, rapid, and not cost-restrictive to ensure that the various costs of doing business are not asymmetrically burdensome.
The Biodiversity Conservation and Management Section would like to thank the workshop facilitators and participants for an enlightening and productive consultation workshop. It is hoped that the input provided by stakeholders will result in an inclusive, effective, and holistic plan to tackle the global issue of invasive species. Barbados is a small island state with a small, very open economy which is susceptible to many internal and external forces. With this National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan, the threat of invasive species can be better managed to protect Barbados’ economy, ecosystems, and citizens.