A Note from Church Creek . . .
- Dear friends . . . .
During the quiet times of the week between Christmas and New Years
it's always interesting to look back to see what Island Resources
Foundation has done. This year quiet time was less quiet---we were
finishing up two major papers at the Office, and workmen are
dissecting the Potters' new home out on Church Creek in Annapolis.
But still . . .
It has been a busy six months, including:
* Completion of the draft Environmental Characterization of
Sandy Cay, together with an extended Technical Annex.
* Drafting a major chapter on Coastal and Marine issues for the
United Nations Environment Programme's Global Environmental Outlook
for Latin America and the Caribbean.
* An extended review of the draft Environmental Management
Strategy being developed by the Natural Resources Management Unit of
the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
* A detailed critique of the World Bank's Environmental
Strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean which we feel has NOT
addressed the hard questions of how global institutions (such as the
Bank) effectively provide products and services appropriate to small
[Copies of all of these reports or comments are available in
electronic format (either plain text, or MS Word) to any of our
members --- just ask, and we'll send it right back.]
At the same time that we have been producing these long-term
documents, members of the Foundation have also been actively involved
in "doing things" about tropical insular environments. Most of our
members may be aware that Judith Towle has served for several years
on the Board of Trustees of the Mutki Fund, a small private
foundation which has concentrated its philanthropy on the natural and
cultural heritage of St. Kitts and Nevis for the almost 20 years.
The Mukti Fund first came to Island Resources's attention in the
early-1990's when it became a source of small project funds to assist
some of the environmental Non-Governmental Organisations that Bruce
Horwith was working with the USAID-funded NGO development matching
grant program based in Antigua. Since that time the Mukti Fund has
been a consistent and reliable source of small grants for projects we
have supported in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Since 1998, Judith has been Chair of the Board of the Mukti
Fund, a duty which she finds rewarding and challenging.
In addition to his continuing involvement in Foundation programs in
watershed studies and coastal zone management, and his hands-on
direction of this year's Environmental Characterization of Sandy Cay,
Ed Towle, the "retired" Chairman of the Foundation, also finds time
to contribute to a number of local Virgin Islands institutions. These
include the USVI's Non-Point Source Committee, the new Virgin Islands
Territorial Parks Committee, the BVI Airport Environmental Monitoring
Committee, and serving on the Board of the Fish Bay Property Owners
Association in St. John. . . . And of course, he's also starting to
work on that book on the "Heroes of Conservation in the Caribbean."
Some retirement . . . .
I'm not able to keep up with Dr. Towle's pace, but this year has been
busy for me with duties associated with the Caribbean Conservation
Association (CCA), and through that, with the Global Environment
Facility's NGO Network which meets semi-annually to review the
activities of the Global Environment Facility. At CCA, this has been
an especially busy year, including a move to new offices at the
Garrson, St. Michaels, Barbados, and hiring new senior staff for both
CCA, and for the European Community-funded, 9 million Euro, Caribbean
Regional Environnment Programme, for which CCA is the implementing
This past October the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
arranged to pay our way to the sixth world conference of the
International Small Islands Study Association (ISISA) in Skye,
Scotland. (You may remember that Kevel Lindsay represented Island
Resources at the meetings in Mauritius two years ago.)
Island Resources Foundation has also committed itself to serve as the
lead Caribbean Collaborating Centre for supporting periodic
environmental assessments in the insular Caribbean for the UNEP
Global Environmental Outlook (now in its third cycle). Starting back
in 1997, the GEO process has so far produced:
o two Global Environmental Outlooks (GEO and GEO 2000),
o hemispheric summaries of the State of the Environment 2000
for Latin America and the Caribbean (in both English and Spanish), and
o a series of three special studies of the State of the
Environment for Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean,
South Pacific and Indian Ocean, respectively, as part of the fifth
anniversary (1999) of the SIDS Conference and Programme of Action in
Barbardos in 1994.
This year's cycle for the GEO process intends to examine
environmental trends for the past 30 years, in relation to public
policies in general, and especially the global environmental
agreements since the Stockholm Convention of 1972.
Setting up a permanent process for conducting the
"_Caribbean_ Environmental Outlook" is a long-term development
program and a time-consuming commitment on the part of the
Foundation. The first stage in this process is to enroll partners
like CCA, the Center for Environment and Development of the
University of the West Indies and other regional institutions, and to
raise funds to support the activity. UNEP has little of the essential
funds to coordinate the involvement and input from the 28 major
islands in the insular Caribbean that need to be engaged in regional
environmental assessments. You will be hearing more from us about
Seven or eight months ago I asked members for their ideas about what
the Foundation should be doing, or has historically done, to make
MORE OF A DIFFERENCE to its members. The most common response by
far---from both individual members, and from Trustees---was that the
Foundation has never been more interesting, or more engaging to its
membership, than when it was trekking off to Aves Island in the
1970's and tagging turtles.
In this age of complex systems and multi-million-dollar real
estate transactions masquerading as conservation, we don't seem to be
able to approach the romance and adventure of those earlier
expeditions, but the Foundation IS making a difference with the same
combination of sound science, energy and commitment that animated
those earlier efforts. For example, the environmental
characterization of Sandy Cay has taken dozens of visits by some of
the Caribbean's premier island specialists, and weeks of research and
documentation about some of the region's most arcane biological
subjects. And the product is a substantial contribution to our
understanding of the ecologies of small islands---and how to preserve
On a regional scale, we now have over 1500 people and
institutions enrolled in interlocking networks of environmentalist,
NGOs and community-based activists. who have been effective in
helping local conservationists to save island beaches for turtles, to
prevent further coastal and wetlands depredations, or to protect
against silly development schemes such as rocket launch pads on
offshore oceanic cays, or assembly facilities on top of enclosed
With your support, these will continue.
About three weeks ago Judith Towle finalized the Foundation's annual
report, and it should be in your mail boxes within a couple weeks.
But I want to take a minute to repeat one item that you can read
there also. At the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees (held in
Road Town in September), the Board voted a list of special
appreciations. In so doing, the Board was acknowledging the
visionary, innovative assistance and partnership by others on behalf
of the Foundation. The following merit special acknowledgement and my
personal thanks here:
o H. LAVITY STOUTT COMMUNITY COLLEGE
for providing a new home for the Foundation
and its environmental library in the BVI.
o ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS GROUP, Antigua-Barbuda
for helping us to maintain our Antigua
office while Kevel Lindsay is on study leave.
o BOARD MEMBER CHARLES CONSOLSO
for pro bono legal assistance for more
than 20 years.
o BOARD MEMBER DR. HENRY JARECKI
for a special contribution for equipment at
the BVI Environmental Information Center.
o FOUNDER EDWARD TOWLE
for extended volunteer services to IRF since his
retirement as president in 1998.
o HOLLIS W. PETERSEN
for donation of property at Fish Bay,
St. John, USVI.
o DR. WALTER H. HODGE
for donation of his extensive photographic
collection and other historical materials
of the Lesser Antilles--especially
Dominica--dating from 1937-1940. (Prior to
WW II, Dr. Hodge carried out extended
botanical research in the Eastern Caribbean.)
o DR. LEE MACDONALD, COLORADO STATE U.
and his talented graduate students for their
contributions to long-term sedimentation and
erosion control studies in St. John, USVI.
Before concluding, let me make a special plea for those of you who
are affiliated with some organization or group to subscribe that
GROUP as a member of Island Resources Foundation and the CARIBBEAN
CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION <cca@...>, at the higher
INSTITUTIONAL rate. Our regional environmental groups fulfill a vital
role that ought to be supported by governmental and non-governmental
Best wishes for the new year, and . . . the new millenium
Island Resources Foundation
29 Years of Environmental Planning for Development
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BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Phone: 284/494-2723; E-mail: <irf@...>
In St. Thomas, USVI, call 340/775-6225
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