The Caribbean island of Redonda has been officially designated a protected area by the government of Antigua and Barbuda. The Redonda Ecosystem Reserve covers almost 75,000 acres, including the island, its surrounding seagrass meadows, and a 70-square-mile coral reef. While the new protected area is largely unexplored, it is believed to be home to at least 30 globally threatened and near-threatened species, as well as globally important seabird colonies. The sheer size of the protected area means the country has already met its “30x30” target—a global goal to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030.
The new designation is the result of the ongoing efforts of the government of Antigua and Barbuda, and local and international conservation NGOs, including the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), Fauna & Flora and Re:wild. These efforts have transformed Redonda from a barren moonscape to a lush wildlife sanctuary in just a few years. The project to transform the island, which was launched in 2016, involved eradicating invasive black rats that preyed on reptiles and ate birds’ eggs, and relocating the goats introduced by early colonists that devastated the vegetation.
Following the removal of the invasive rats and feral goats in 2017, Redonda has seen a spectacular recovery, with thousands of native trees taking root and anchoring the soil, seabirds returning to nest in greater numbers, and many native animal and plant populations rising exponentially. Total vegetation biomass has increased by more than 2,000%, 15 species of land birds have returned, and numbers of the endemic lizards have increased by more than fourfold.
“To date, the restoration of this precious landscape has been truly remarkable,” said Johnella Bradshaw, EAG’s Redonda programme coordinator. “So much hard work and dedication, from so many people, has gone into making the establishment of the Redonda Ecosystem Reserve possible—this designation will ensure we can continue rewilding the island to the beautiful, biodiverse environment it once was.”
Read more here.
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