The Department of Environment unveiled new signage at the Royal Basseterre Valley National Park on Friday, September 9, 2022, as part of its Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Project.
Minister of Environment, the Honourable Dr. Joyelle Clarke, commented on the sign which reads “Detect, Declare, and Protect,” adding that it is timely and important.
“It is a reminder that we all have to play a part in terms of managing the spread of and the cost of invasive alien species. Today, we are talking about the Green Vervet Monkey and the problem is that some people feel it is only the farmers who are affected but we recognize that various stakeholders are now feeling the effects of the invasion here in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Dr. Clarke. “Our signage here will remind us that we have to do our best to prevent the next invasion. We have to play our part in detecting, declaring and protecting our island from any future invasion.”
The honourable Minister thanked the staff at the Department of Environment for their work, adding that the project will take on a multi-stakeholder approach as the plan is to involve the Ministries of Agriculture and Tourism.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Sharon Rattan, was also on hand to witness the unveiling of the signage. She noted that it is extremely important to understand the “stark reality that the monkeys have had a very debilitating effect on our agriculture.”
“This project has brought to the attention of us within the Ministry and the Department, exactly what has to be done. One of the first things you would see when you pass by here is the estimated population of monkeys and that should have an impact on you and bring home to you that we have a problem that has to be resolved,” said Permanent Secretary Rattan. “I would like to emphasize that one major result of this project would be to create a pathway going forward so that we can address this issue, as well as to create a balance to have respect for our animals. However, how do we in harmony deal with the challenge that the monkeys pose to the farmers and to the future of our food security?” the Permanent Secretary asked.
Eavin Parry, Environmental Scientist in the Department of Environment and Project Director for the IAS Project, said the signage is intended to raise awareness about the harmful impacts of IAS on our way of life.
“The focus of the graphic on the signage is two menacing green monkeys consuming agricultural produce which highlights the issues surrounding the negative impacts caused by monkeys affecting farms, farmers and the farming sector. The signage is sending the message to the public accurately depicting the green monkey species as one that has been having a significant negative impact on agricultural productivity, crop production and associated revenue generation. The message on the sign compels the readers to consider what might be the next invasion and how everyone might be able to play a role in preventing it,” said Mr. Parry.
The signage ceremony was an element of the public awareness component of Global Environment Facility (GEF) project entitled Preventing Cost of Alien Species in Barbados and the OECS Countries.