Antigua & Barbuda Bahamas Belize Bermuda
Jamaica Martinique Dutch Antilles Puerto Rico
St Vincent &Grenadines Trinidad &Tobago Turks & Caicos BVI US VI
116,872 1 0/488,069 1 /17,300 217,500
14128,548 1/1,494 218,284 7115 ,528 1/4,497 3/673
112,200 1/ 70,150
1/12,000 215 ,041 73/1,341,406
116,872 17/964,159 2/21,000 700 2137,953 1/ 70,150 2/7,760 14128 ,548 1/1,494 218,284 7115 ,528 14/97,532 3/673 1114,079
Unfortunately, until very recently the conservation of the Caribbean biodiversity was not recognised as being of importance by international conservation agencies. There has been remarkably little attention paid to the conservation needs of the cactus and succulent flora in general. Undoubtedly, the historical preoccupation with tree forest, and especially our present-day concern for tropical rain forests, have diverted attention from other vegetations of equally deserving botanical merit in the Caribbean (Adams 1997). Plant formations in need of protection include special floras of serpentine soils in Cuba and Jamaica, and siliceous sand savannas which have a restricted range outside Cuba. Recently attention has been concentrated on the establishment of marine protected areas. These may incidentally protect the succulent flora of coastal areas (e.g. Buck Island, in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands) but do not necessarily protect the habitats of endemic and/or threatened succulent species.
Sometimes areas of cactus scrub vegetation are protected within various sites set aside for conservation throughout the Caribbean. In the British Virgin Islands, for example, the Fallen Jerusalem and West Dog Island Forestry Parks support this type of vegetation. Some priority sites for the protection of specifically representative areas of cactus scrub in the West Indies are
Cabo Corrientes and Baconao reserves (Cuba); lsla Cabritos National Park (Dominican Republic); Guanica State Forest and Mona Island reserve (Puerto Rico), and National (proposed in Guadeloupe).
Protected areas currently cover not more than 6.6 percent of the Caribbean Islands' land area, and West Indian biodiversity is not fully represented. Besides, many of the protected areas which do exist are not adequately protected on the ground. According to an AS0 study (Inventory of Caribbean Marine and Coastal Protected Areas, 1988) only 33 percent of the protected area coverage is under a suitable regime of protection and management; 43 percent is partially protected, while the remaining 24 percent is practically unprotected. A review of the protected areas system and conservation legislation in the Caribbean is given in IUCN (1992). A summary of protected areas in the West Indies is presented in Table 3.17, and specific areas important for succulent conservation are presented in Box 3.6.
Notwithstanding that the most common of the West Indian lowland formations is the thorn scrub, most of the area coverage listed in Table 3.17 is of montane and submontane rain forests, seasonal evergreen forests, semi-deciduous, and coniferous forests.
Box 3.6 Protected areas important for succulent conservation in selected Caribbean
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