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Loss of mangroves, land for agriculture in focus as CARICOM observes International Biological Diversity Day

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat’s Human and Social Development chief, Dr Douglas Slater has drawn attention to the decline of land area for agricultural use and alarming levels of mangroves loss in the Region.

He was at the time speaking at an inaugural webinar series: the Way Forward for the Caribbean in Shaping a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, recently, which launched the CARICOM Secretariat’s observations of International Day for Biological Diversity. The Day is celebrated every year on May 22. This year’s observations are being celebrated under the theme: “Our solutions are in nature.”

Dr Slater noted that the 2018 State of Biodiversity in the Caribbean Review showed that the levels of reduction of the mangrove forests, were among the highest in the world. Approximately 12 per cent of the world’s mangroves are found in the Caribbean.

The other worrying phenomenon, which should propel urgent action, is the decline of land for agriculture use. Both of the phenomena were as a result of sea level rise, according to the Report.

“As a community with islands identified as the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, these changes impact our unique species and increase habitat loss and vulnerability of extinction of valuable ecosystems for goods and services,” Dr Slater stated.

He said 2020 was supposed to serve as a reset and offer the Region an opportunity to change course.

Acknowledging that COVID 19 has the potential to “cause delays and throw us off course,” he urged the technical experts on the environment “not lose hope.”

“We need to look at the next few months as an opportunity to arm ourselves with current and cutting edge information to engage with the international community to ensure that the concerns of Caribbean SIDS are given the attention that they deserve.”

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