Redonda Restoration Programme
Situated approximately 50 km from Antigua, Redonda is a rugged, uninhabited volcanic island with a remarkable history, globally important seabird colonies and unique fauna and flora. In 2016, we and our partners began taking steps to restore Redonda’s extraordinary biodiversity, resulting in astounding changes to the island.
Though Redonda is unquestionably of high conservation value, feral goats and thousands of large, predatory black rats had turned much of its surface into a dusty moonscape and left the surrounding marine habitats damaged. Following a series of feasibility studies and consultations to determine what must be done to save Redonda’s biodiversity, in 2017 Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and partners eradicated the rats and relocated the feral goats to Antigua. The island started to spring back to life incredibly quickly: in the space of just two years, 15 species of land birds returned to Redonda and numbers of the Redonda Ground Lizard increased eight-fold.
Today, we are working to solidify and build on the success of the original eradication work. Along with implementing biosecurity measures to limit the risk of any reinvasions, we are working on eradicating invasive plants, monitoring the very rapid recovery of native species, exploring the feasibility of reintroducing native species, conducting marine monitoring and surveillance, and establishing a major new protected area that will cover the island, its surrounding seagrass meadows and a largely intact 180 km2 coral bank. The new Redonda Ecosystem Reserve is largely unexplored but believed to contain at least 30 globally threatened and near-threatened species.
The programme continues to be a very successful collaboration between FFI, local NGO the Environmental Awareness Group and the Government of Antigua & Barbuda through the Department of Environment, the Fisheries Division and other government agencies. Major private and government stakeholders provided valuable insight, feedback and support throughout the restoration work. These partnerships will continue as the management framework is developed for the proposed Redonda Ecosystem Reserve. Local capacity building in island restoration and protected area management continues to be a major part of the programme and is further supported by partner NGOs such as Global Wildlife Conservation.
While awaiting the designation of the proposed Redonda Ecosystem Reserve, the Government of Antigua & Barbuda declares Redonda a closed area until 31st October 2021. To further support restoration, this restricts people from visiting Redonda other than for research
An interim management plan is developed for the proposed Redonda Ecosystem Reserve (29,587 hectares of land and sea)
Biodiversity monitoring indicates a more than eight-fold increase in the number of Redonda ground lizards and three-fold increase in Redonda tree lizards; a more than eight-fold increase in the abundance of invertebrates sampled; over 20-fold increase in vegetation cover and biomass; and an increase in the number of birds seen on the island from 9 to 23 species
A dedicated team eradicates the island’s invasive rats and relocates its starving goats to be cared for on Antigua
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has played a pivotal role in safeguarding the future of an incredible variety of species in all corners of the globe, from British bats to Mexican cacti, iguanas in the Bahamas and tree snails from Tahiti.
Sophia Steele, Programme Manager, Antigua and Barbuda
We are grateful for the support of the following funders for this project: