The National Parks Trust of the Virgin Islands has begun a new two-year project that is funded by the UK Darwin Plus Initiative, entitled ‘Integrating climate change resilience into protected area design and management’. The Trust is the lead partner and is collaborating with UK based Environment Systems Ltd. who are based in Wales, UK. This is a continuation of an existing partnership with Environment Systems Ltd, having partnered on a previous Darwin Plus project from 2018-2020. Sandy Cay National Park will be one of the sites used as a case study for this project
as it is an ideal example of a complete island ecosystem with salt pond, mangroves, forests, beach and coral reefs. Prickly Pear National Park is the second site used as a case study with four beaches, four salt ponds, mangrove wetlands and forests.
Picture showing August 2022 workshop participants at Prickly Pear National Park
Climate change is impacting the BVI with more intensive storms and droughts, as seen by the 2017 hurricane season. This project will create BVI specific climate change modelling data on a web dashboard that will facilitate targeted Trust fieldwork, inform decision making at national levels, and raise public awareness. We will build resilience into the BVI protected area network by identifying sites that provide ecosystem services to the community and contain biodiversity value in the face of a changing climate.
The Trust, as lead partner will conduct overall project management, coordinate workshops, conduct field work, coordinate public relations, provide GIS biodiversity data and share digital outputs with the National GIS and wider Government. Environment Systems Ltd are responsible for data management, Earth observation (EO) data acquisition and analysis, climate change modelling, creation of monitoring systems, and a webbased dashboard, and also provide training and support.
Picture showing the habitats and the impacts of climate change as seen by fallen trees from hurricane Irma
The ESL team include: Dr Katie Medcalf who is the Environment Director: Dr. Medcalf is an expert environmental scientist with a strong background in climate scenario modelling, biodiversity mapping, ecosystem services and remote sensing. She has extensive experience in delivering environmental projects and training in the BVI, having partnered with NPTVI on a previous Darwin Plus funded project and other UKOTs. Samuel Pike is a Remote Sensing Consultant, who has expertise in the techniques to be used for both the terrestrial and shallow water marine environment. He has worked on UKOT related projects involving the BVI and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Samuel will lead the mapping and modelling work.
Picture showing participants in the climate change workshop in August 2022
This week the NPTVI and ESL held a workshop comprised of a variety of sessions, intended to get BVI input into this process, so that the models that are developed incorporate local knowledge. The workshop explored the existing and predicted climate data and remote sensing imagery. A climate change modelling web based dashboard is one of the main outputs of this project and this will be a useful tool for all Government Departments, to ensure that climate change is integrated into every facet of our daily lives and work tasks.