Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: Workshops focused on Caribbean vegetation mapping
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Title: Workshops focused on Caribbean vegetation mapping
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: November 6, 1998
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Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00230
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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The Daily News. Friday. November 6. 1998

Workshops focused on Caribbean vegetation mapping

Recently I attended an intense
three-day workshop in Puerto Rico
titled "Caribbean Vegetation
Mapping effort." The Nature
Conservancy and the Institute of
Tropical Forestry of the United
States Service jointly sponsored the
workshops. At these workshops,
ccqlogists, botanists social planners
and scientists from other regions of
the Caribbean and the United States
attended the meetings.
Some people who attended were
Rudy O'Reilly Jr. from St. Croix's
USDA National Resources
Conservation Services: Dayle Barry
and Stevie Henry from UVI's
Eastern Caribbean Center; Alberto
Areces from New York Botanical
Garden; Kevel Lindsay from
Antigua's Island Resources
Foundation; Carol Mayes from the
Nature Consrvancy of the Virgin
Islands and Eastern Caribbean; and
many others in their respectful
However, it was an honor to meet
Dr. George Proctor, a well-known
botanist in the Caribbean region and
throughout the world. He is known
for his experience and knowledge in
the field of plant taxonomic. Even
though he is up in age and 'half
blind as he put it, his knowledge in

plant is incredible.
Since the 1700s and probably
before, many botanists have visited
the West Indies. The history of flora
in the Caribbean is interesting, but
studies during Columbus' time, the
so-called discovery of the New
World, said that botanists mainly
focused on individual island groups,
but not on the entire Caribbean as a
The New York Botanical Garden
in the flora of the Greater Antilles
attempted projects with a small sec-
tion on vegetation. This first intro-
duction of vegetation on the
Caribbean region is far from being
completed. However, scientific
information on Caribbean vegeta-
tion is locked in detail for practical
use of land development in the
Caribbean region.
At the turn of this century. A. F.
W. Schimper laid the groundwork
for vegetation classification of plant
types. He recognized six edaphi
formations, which includes swamp
forest, littoral woodland below high
tide, forest of limestone's soil, forest
of humus soil and forest of siliceous
soil. He also recognized five climat-
ic formation which includes lowland
rain forest, mountain rain forest,
monsoon forest. savanna forest and


thorn woodland.
At the workshops, we reviewed
draft vegetation existing maps to
determine the best vegetation classi-
fication system for the Caribbean.

This vegetation map-
ping of the Virgin
Islands is needed badly.

The objectives of the workshop
were: '"To produce a unified vegeta-
tion classification system for the
Caribbean region based on intensive
island-by-island vegetation data set
by compiling all existing vegetation
maps and data in the region "
The Nature Conservancy and its

partners have been very instrumen-
tal in developing the vegetation
mapping for the entire Caribbean.
This organization has been in exis-
tence for almost 50 years. They
strongly believe in the preservation
and protection of biodiversity of
plants and animals in the environ-
ment. Since the Nature
Conservancy's office was estab-
lished on St. Thomas in 1992, the
organization has worked with many
businesses, the government, the
University of the Virgin Islands,
organizations, individuals, and oth-
ers who a interested in the preser-
vation and protection of these
islands natural resources,
Thus, the Caribbean vegetation
mapping system was another effort
by the Nature Conservancy and its
partners working with UVI's
Eastern Caribbean Conservation
Data Center. Extension Service, the
USDA Natural Resources
Conservation Service and others to
develop the vegetation maps for the
Virgin Islands.
This vegetation mapping of the
Virgin Islands is needed badly. Like
I always said, this government lacks
the wisdom to implement its own
comprehensive land use plan for
these islands. I personally have tried

to educate the public about the
importance of land use management
through many forums.

My opinion for the Virgin Islands
environment has often fell on deaf
cars particularly our legislators. And
for this reason, we will suffer eco-
nomically in the long run because of
poor planning. The vegetation map
is a great scientific tool for these
islands. In fact. the vegetation map
of St. Croix's terrestrial and marine
environment is almost completed.

This computerized map of St.
Croix will be instrumental in devel-
opment, monitoring, planning, pro-
tecting critical habitats and more. I
am glad for the map of St. Croix
because it is a tool I can use at my
job and public hearing debates on
environmental issues.

Next week's column will focus on
Nature Conservancy in the

This article reflects the view of
Olaser Dais, a St. Croix ecologist.
activist and writer H*o has a master
of science degree in range manage-
ment and forestry ecology

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