Plant conservation across the Caribbean

The Caribbean Hotspot for Biodiversity comprises more than 12 thousand plant species, many of which occur in more than one island. Planta! ’s team develops an initiative to preserve and recover the shared-endemic Caribbean plants. These are the first outcomes.


Date: 7/5/2019


Project: Developing a Caribbean Plant Conservation Network


More than 12 thousand plant species occur in the Caribbean Biodiversity Hotspot, considered as one of the world’s main regions for biodiversity. More than half of these plants are endemic to the area and support a rich wildlife as well as 17.5 million people. However, Caribbean plants are more vulnerable to extinction than other plants from any other region of the Americas. The same natural isolation that boosted their evolution, makes them more sensitive to human activities and to climate change than their mainland relatives.

More than 12 thousand plant species occur in the Caribbean, over half of these plants are endemic to the region.

A bridge for regional conservation

Efforts have been made towards the preservation of endemic species at each island. However, close to half of the endemic plant species of the Caribbean occur in more than one island. From the conservation point of view, these shared-endemics are in nobody’s land and no one takes responsibility for their region wide conservation. So there is only one answer to solve this problem: networking.

Planta! has started an initiative that aims to identify all the important areas for plant diversity in the region, to assess the conservation status and develop a recovery plan for the shared-endemics, and to design and implement a capacity building program to support the conservation of plants and habitats in the Caribbean.

During the first regional workshop, the conservation status of 43 Caribbean species was assessed.

A goal joining us all

The first regional meeting of this project was celebrated in April, 2019. Conservationists from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the United States of America, Jamaica, Mexico and Cuba worked together to assess several threatened species of the region. The conservation status of 43 shared species was assessed and documented. This information was included in the IUCN Red List database to make it accessible for everyone in the region. Major challenges to successfully share information were identified during the meeting, like the limited access to information of regional herbaria.

The first regional workshop of this project gathered conservationists from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, United States of America, Jamaica, Mexico and Cuba.

One way to address some of these challenges is to celebrate more regional meetings with representatives of all the Greater Antilles like Haiti. With this in mind, a second regional meeting was celebrated in September of the same year in Eleuthera, the Bahamas. At the meeting, the assessment of 27 taxa shared by Cuba and the Bahamas was completed, with 11 species reported as Endangered, 15 other evaluated as Low Concern and 1 species having Deficient Data.

Another challenge to complete this assessments relies in the taxonomy of the regional flora. For example, during the meeting celebrated at the Bahamas, 12 species were discussed but their assessment could not be finished due to their unclear taxonomical status. These species will be analyzed at the next meeting to be celebrated at the Dominican Republic during the Congress “Botanical bridges III”, where more shared Caribbean species will be assessed, including species shared by Cuba, Bahamas and Florida.

The Caribbean includes many plants growing in more than one island. To preserve them, regional conservationists must work together.

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