CERMES to Host the Regional Observatory for Protected Areas and Biodiversity for the Caribbean

6 November 2014

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Regional Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (ORMACC) and the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, announce their collaboration on the Regional Observatory for Protected Areas and Biodiversity (“the Observatory”). The Observatory will support the collection, management, analysis and application of data and information relevant to protected areas and biodiversity in the Caribbean.

This Observatory, a component of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA), will be hosted by the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados.

BIOPAMA’s main objectives are to assist countries improve technical and institutional approaches to conserve biodiversity, and address threats to biodiversity in ACP countries while also reducing poverty. BIOPAMA is a global initiative of the African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) Secretariat, funded by the European Union (EU), and implemented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC).

The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) is a department within the Faculty of Science and Technology on the UWI Cave Hill Campus in Barbados. CERMES promotes and facilitates sustainable development in the Caribbean and beyond through a strong focus on tropical island environmental management and its mission is to make a significant contribution to sustainable development in the Caribbean region.

“The basic aim of the Observatory for the Caribbean is to facilitate access to, and exchange of, data and information that is useful to improve decision-making for protected area management, not just the management of our biological diversity, but also taking into consideration the socio-economic aspects and the governance issues that impact on how we manage our natural resources,” explained Hyacinth Armstrong-Vaughn, the BIOPAMA Protected Areas Officer for the Caribbean.

“The University of the West Indies is pleased to partner with IUCN in implementing BIOPAMA, and specifically in hosting the Observatory to deliver services to Caribbean countries,” said Dr. Patrick McConney, Senior Lecturer at CERMES and the focal point for the BIOPAMA Observatory at the centre. “The Observatory will provide many benefits, and especially through integrating information on biodiversity and livelihoods to improve decision-making about governance and management of protected areas in the Caribbean region,” he said.

One of the first steps in implementing the Observatory is the establishment of a regional reference information system (RRIS) as the platform that the Observatory will use to facilitate management of data and information. During the recent Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute (GCFI) Conference in Barbados, the RRIS and its associated tools were presented at a lunch-time event on November 4, providing an opportunity for participants to discuss, in the context of the Caribbean, the relevance of the tools presented, suggest improvements on the design of the RRIS, and identify opportunities for real-life testing/application of the proposed tools.

Once fully functioning, the RRIS will form part of the interface of the regional Observatories to create a single interactive web-portal, giving access to all the information available in the different thematic areas. The RRIS will be accessible by all regional stakeholders, EU Member States, and other partners. Information on themes, including marine and terrestrial ecosystems, species and habitats, ecosystem services, pressures and threats, and management and governance, will include reference maps, indicators, and specific analyses, where relevant. Particular attention will be paid to the presentation of the indicators and the maps adapted to the needs of the partner for the production of the Country Environmental Profiles.

The BIOPAMA regional Observatories aim to provide a forward looking analysis of emerging complex development issues and inter-related scientific topics, such as the link between food security and other ecosystem services (carbon, biodiversity).  The Observatories will also aim to improve collaboration between ACP stakeholders at the scientific level (universities, regional research centres), and political level (National services, Regional Economic Communities) through technology transfer, infrastructure strengthening and capacity-building activities.

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