Interview with a Caribbean Marine Conservation Champion

6 April 2015

Dr Georgina Bustamante, Coordinator of the Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Management Network and Forum (CaMPAM), shares some thoughts on the collaboration with the BIOPAMA programme and the potential of further engagement for biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean region.

The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA) is doing a good job so far of contributing to building capacity among Caribbean natural resource managers who are responsible for oversight of a range of marine and terrestrial protected areas in the region.

This assessment has come from Dr. Georgina Bustamante, Coordinator for the Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Management Network and Forum (CaMPAM), a professional network with a capacity building programme to strengthen marine areas under protection or management created and run since 1997 by the United Nations Environment Program Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP) under the regional Specially Protected Area and Wildlife (SPAW) regional treaty on biodiversity protection.

Dr. Bustamante, who has spent more than 40 years in marine conservation science and education, said BIOPAMA had been smart not to try to reinvent the wheel but to build on the connections and knowledge established by other conservation initiatives that had come before it, such as the CaMPAM of UNEP-CEP and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) ECMMAN program, among others. She said UNEP-CEP had also identified IUCN-BIOPAMA as a partner to implement activities to build marine managed areas capacity in the Caribbean.

The CaMPAM coordinator made these observations following the 11th edition of the Training of Trainers on Marine Protected Area Management regional training, St. George’s Grenada, which was held for 23 marine conservation professionals in February 2015 as a collaborative effort between IUCN-BIOPAMA, UNEP-CEP/SPAW-CaMPAM, TNC, and the Grenada Fisheries Division.

“This type of collaboration between IUCN, through BIOPAMA, and UNEP-CEP is critical to achieve the conservation agenda of Caribbean countries and for the sustainable livelihoods of communities,” said Dr. Bustamante, noting that the training course was the second such collaboration between CaMPAM and BIOPAMA following a Learning Exchange of Junior Marine Protected Areas Management Officers held in Belize in 2014.

The researcher also anticipated greater opportunities for the two initiatives to work together, pointing to the fact that BIOPAMA’s new Caribbean Observatory could draw information from CaMPAM’s public MPA Regional Database to populate the Observatory’s Regional Reference Information System, which BIOPAMA intends to be a gateway for researchers and policy makers to access data and tools for analysis of biodiversity and protected areas management. Dr. Bustamante said it made more sense for the CaMPAM and BIOPAMA to collaborate rather than compete in this and any other area. This strategy was discussed at a BIOPAMA planning workshop in Barbados two years ago, she noted.

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