Biodiversity in

Antigua & Barbuda

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Antigua & Barbuda Facts

Country in Americas & Caribbean
Size (land & water): 442.6 km²
Population (2016 est.): 93,581

Country Description

The archipelagic state of Antigua and Barbuda is comprised of two primary populated islands and a number of uninhabited smaller islands (Caribsave 2012). The islands are located in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean at the center of the leeward island chain, about 250 miles southeast of Puerto Rico (Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2014a).

An internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot, Antigua and Barbuda is particularly known for its high biodiversity in the marine and coastal environment (Caribsave 2012). The islands and their waters support a number of globally and regionally important habitats and species, such as Codrington Lagoon, the largest saltwater, a coastal lagoon in the Caribbean; nesting beaches for threatened turtle species; and many types of rare species (e.g., the Antiguan racer snake, hawksbill turtles, and the West Indian whistling duck) (Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2014a; Caribsave 2012; Jackson 2008).

Antigua and Barbuda recognizes the importance of preserving and protecting its marine habitats and natural resources for their intrinsic value, the protection they provide against climate change impacts to vulnerable coastal areas, their carbon sequestration potential, and their role as the mainstay of the country’s economically important tourism industry (Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2014a; Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2015b).

Biodiversity Conservation and
Protected Area Context

As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Antigua and Barbuda is committed to conserving its valuable biodiversity and natural resources, as outlined in the country’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) (Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2014a). Notably, Antigua and Barbuda passed the Environment Protection and Management Act in 2015 to integrate and coordinate the sustainable management and conservation of natural resources in Antigua and Barbuda (The Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2015a). In addition, Antigua and Barbuda communicated its Intentionally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015, including the target of protecting all remaining wetlands and watershed areas with carbon sequestration potential as carbon sinks by 2030 (Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2015b).

Recognizing the importance of Protected Areas (PAs) to biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration, Antigua and Barbuda is working towards meeting Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 and its INDC by taking steps to implement PAs and establish a national system of PAs for the management and conservation of biodiversity by 2020 (Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2014b; Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2015b).

This commitment is also represented in the goals of Antigua and Barbuda’s NBSAP (Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2014a). Antigua and Barbuda’s system of PAs will include terrestrial areas, wetlands and watershed areas as indicated in the country’s INDC, areas important to migratory species, and marine environments (Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2014a; Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2015b).

Key Threats to Marine Ecosystem Health

Antigua and Barbuda’s valuable marine and coastal ecosystems face increasing pressure from a suite of threats. The NBSAP and the Fifth National Biodiversity Report for Antigua and Barbuda identify anthropogenic impacts related to economic and social development, as well as emerging threats from invasive species and climate change, as top threats to Antigua and Barbuda’s biodiversity and ecosystem health (Government of Antigua and Barbuda 2014a;)

Economic & Social Development

Invasive Species

Climate Change