Redonda to be designated a nature reserve

Magnificent frigatebirds are now enjoying unprecedented breeding success on Redonda. (Credit: Ed Marshall)

The Department of the Environment is spearheading an effort to have Redonda and the surrounding sea designated as a nature reserve.

A nature reserve is a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interests, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research.

The move follows a major restoration programme which was led by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, along with the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), and leading specialists from the UK, USA and New Zealand.

The restoration programme aimed to capture and move all long-horned goats to Antigua, where the Department of Agriculture will care for them.

The 12-month programme resulted in the removal of starving goats and thousands of ravenous rats being removed from the remote island which is legally part of Antigua and Barbuda.

In a release to the media, Dr. Helena Jeffery Brown, a representative from the Department of Environment, stated, “The Government of Antigua and Barbuda considers the return to life of Redonda as a shining beacon in our collective efforts towards ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation that will bring us another step closer to attaining some of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets 3.”

Shanna Challenger, of the EAG and Fauna & Flora International (FFI), added: “This has been the opportunity of a lifetime – witnessing the rebirth of an island. Changes forecasted to happen in five years occurred within months. Our conservation efforts really show the benefits of invasive species removal on Caribbean island ecosystems.”