Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Report
Title Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Awareness Baseline Survey, Saint Lucia, 2010
Author(s)
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Publisher Forestry Department
URL http://www.ciasnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Saint-Lucia-IAS-Awareness-Survey-2010.pdf
Abstract
This awareness survey on issues related to invasive alien species (IAS) in St. Lucia aimed to
establish a baseline that could inform the strategic approach of a public awareness campaign as
well as provide a basis against which the success of such interventions could be assessed. A
general, island-wide and two pilot site-specific questionnaires (for 50 respondents each) were
elaborated and used as guidance for pairs of interviewers, who were instructed to encourage a free
flow of opinions from 505 respondents, who were randomly selected from the general public in all
Forestry Ranges. Data were categorized and analyzed by ?2-analysis in order to arrive at strategic
recommendation for environmental education. Methodological recommendations for follow-up
surveys are also presented. Overall the survey appears to be representative of the St. Lucian
pubic, but backstopping against the 2010 National Census is recommended for future fine-tuning.
Despite clear evidence of on-going environmental education having an impact, the understanding of
biodiversity issues remains rather limited and largely restricted to the better-educated professionals.
Therefore, as a foundation to the public education campaign, the fundamental concepts of
biodiversity should be reinforced. Cultivated species that have been introduced several generations
ago were frequently and incorrectly viewed as indigenous to St. Lucia, including some highly
invasive species, such as water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). This widespread misconception
needs addressing systematically and suitable case-study species (plant and animals) for terrestrial
and aquatic ecosystems are suggested.
A case in hand is the alien iguana, which was regularly and explicitly flagged as native. Awareness
of two geographically separate iguana populations and the implication for management seems to be
negligible. It cannot be assumed that the meanings of the terms “native” or “alien” are generally
understood. These basic concepts, particularly the potential effects of the alien iguana, need to be
communicated with clarity and objectivity to avoid fuelling poorly rationalized fears. On the other
hand, observations contributed by a well-informed subset of Soufriere respondents, who clearly
have benefitted from the groundwork done by the on-going alien iguana eradication programme
there, strongly suggest that initial escapes of captive iguanas must have happened well over a
decade ago. The lesson learnt in Soufriere could serve as a trusted example to illustrate the risks
of holding potentially invasive animals in captivity to the wider public. The Soufriere experience
could instruct the formal and informal pet trade, which enjoys growing popularity in the north of the
island.
Deforestation was the most frequently mentioned threat to terrestrial biodiversity, followed by
garbage, chemicals and pollution, three threats that coincided with the freshwater threats of
greatest concern. The top three perceived threats to marine biodiversity were garbage, pollutions
and oil spills. IAS ranked 18th as a perceived threat to terrestrial biodiversity and 21st as a marine
threat; they did not feature at all in perceptions of freshwater threats. None of the respondents
regarded IAS among the top two threats to marine biodiversity. Clearly, the current ranking of IAS
as a threat to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems needs to be improved with the aim of a widespread
appreciation of IAS being the second most important threat to biodiversity (after habitat loss) across
all ecosystems. Awareness on freshwater ecosystems is furthest behind at present.

Related studies

»