The Virgin Islands will join with this rest of the world on February 2, 2012 to observe World Wetlands Day, under the theme, ‘Wetlands and Tourism.’
Acting Chief Conversation and Fisheries Officer, Mr. Kelvin Penn described the annual observance as it relates to the theme stating that the value of our wetland and their benefits can build stronger economies, sustainable livelihoods, healthy people and thriving ecosystems. ‘Wetlands Day is aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general, and the Ramsar Convention. With this, I urge the community to take a moment to appreciate the value of our local wetlands and take advantage of the benefits that they offer,’ he said.
According to Mr. Penn, the western salt ponds are excellent examples of salt pond wetlands within the Greater Antilles.
He reminded us that they support a number of endangered fauna and flora species, including the endemic Anegada Rock Iguana and the re-introduced colony of Caribbean Flamingos.
‘These birds nestle within the mangrove for feeding and good nourishment and the mangrove helps to prevent flooding during storms, and banks from scouring and erosion by waves. The salt pond comprises of a range of brackish saline lagoons and ponds amongst shrub dominated vegetation, tidal mudflats and mangrove. Each year tourists visit the site primarily for bird watching and locals use it for subsistence fishing, gathering of shellfish, bait collection, grazing, cutting of vegetation and mining,’ he concluded.