In 2015, Fauna & Flora International (FFI) was approached by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Forestry Department to help save the Union Island geckoa tiny, jewel-like lizard known only from a restricted area of dry forest. The gecko is threatened by the international pet trade and inappropriate development that risks destroying its forest habitat. A species recovery plan was developed with the Union Island community, and thishas guided our workwhich ranges from halting illegal exploitation of reptiles and using the gecko as a flagship for conserving Union Islands remarkably biodiverse forest, to supporting the island in developing climatesensitive, nature-based enterprises. 


The main project site is Chatham Bay, which ranks among the Caribbean’s top Key Biodiversity Areas. Our work aims to strengthen the management of this area, raise awareness of the Union Island gecko’s plight, and protect a host of other rare and endemic species (such as the Grenadines pink rhino iguana and the Caribbean diamond tarantula). Our work will build local capacity to become more resilient to climate change and other challenges. Because poverty on this low-income island is also inextricably linked to the protection of its remarkable biodiversitywe are also working with partners to develop diverse enterprises that consider the impacts of climate change and work in harmony with nature. 

Our work

Through a strong partnership with the St Vincent and the Grenadines Forestry Department and local NGO The Union Island Environmental Attackers, our current work focuses on protected area management and expansion, anti-poaching patrols, public education about biodiversity and climate change, terrestrial and marine biodiversity monitoring, and promotion of (and investment in) sustainable livelihoods. FFI is also raising awareness of the Union Island gecko’s plight among key international policy makers. Our work has led to the listing of this Critically Endangered species on Appendix I of CITES – an important milestone in the fight to stop the illegal collection and trade of this gecko on the international market. 

Key milestones

  • 2020

    Programme is expanded to include the “Union Island climate change adaptation project: building resilient communities, sustainable livelihoods and healthy ecosystems”

  • 2019

    Union Island gecko is listed under CITES Appendix I

  • 2017

    Local wardens start to patrol forest

  • 2016

    The Union Island gecko conservation action plan is developed, through a highly collaborative process

  • 2015

    Project begins

Project partners

  • Union Island Environmental Attackers  
  • Sustainable Grenadines Inc. 
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines Forestry Department  


  • St Vincent and the Grenadines Environment Fund
  • Virginia Zoo
  • Disney Conservation Trust
  • FFI Species Fund 
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
  • USAID 
  • National Geographic 
  • Global Wildlife Conservation 
  • Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF), co-financed by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature, Conservation, and Nuclear Safety through KfW. Funding in large part for The Union Island Climate Change Adaptation Project
  • Betty Liebert Trust
  • Halcyon Land and Sea