Anguilla

Map of Anguilla

About the territory

Anguilla was first discovered by Amerindian tribes. Evidence of this discovery is as old as 3300 years. Christopher Columbus sailed past Anguilla in 1493 but did not land. Located in the Caribbean at latitude 18° 15’ North, longitude 63° 10’ West, Anguilla is the most northern of the Leeward Islands. Climate is sunny year-round, with average temperatures of 27°C. The wet season extends from June to November. Most of the islands rainfall of 900 – 1,000mm can fall within a few weeks. The hurricane season normally runs from June to November.

Anguilla consists of the main island which is around 26km in length by 5km in width and also a number of smaller island and cays. Overall the total land area of Anguilla is 91km2. It is only 8 km from the island of St Maarten. Anguilla is mainly flat, with the highest point 213 feet above sea level.

Anguilla and its cays are mostly rocky, with mainly limestone, corals and sandstone. Of significant ecological importance are Anguilla’s wetlands. These wetlands form myriad overlapping habitats for various bird species, which include endangered roseate terns, least terns and red-billed tropic-birds, a species of special concern. During hurricanes and periods of heavy rains, the ponds act as flood control areas.

The population was 13,572 in the last census in 2011. The main industries in Anguilla are tourism and fishing, where fishing employs around 20% of the whole population.

Biodiversity

Kew’s online Herbarium database states that about 500 species of plants have been recorded on Anguilla, 280 of which are non-native and one of which is endemic (Kew UKOTS Online Herbarium). There are 25 species of amphibians and reptiles including eight introduced and three endemic lizard species (Edgar 2010). There are 38 species of breeding birds and a further 101 species occur as regularly non-breeding (Sanders 2006). The only native terrestrial mammals are five species of bat.
Rondeletia plant and Lesser Antillean iguana Iguana delicatisim, two species endemic to Anguilla.

(Left) Endemic Rondeletia plant. Image: Calvin Samuel. (Right) Endemic Lesser Antillean iguana Iguana delicatisima. Image: Farah Muhkida

Policy and legislation

The National Environmental Management Strategy and Action Plan 2005-09 fulfilled Anguilla’s obligations under the St. George’s Declaration (SGD) of Principles for Environmental Sustainability in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), 2001. Under Principle 13 (Protect and Conserve Biological Diversity) Strategy 40 covers activities aimed at avoiding or minimising introductions and escapes of alien or living modified organisms with adverse impacts on other organisms, the environment or human health.

Anguilla has an Environment Charter signed jointly with the UK Government. Guiding Principle 7 is to safeguard and restore native species, habitats and landscape features, and control or eradicate invasive species. Under the associated commitment 2 the government of Anguilla will ensure the protection and restoration of key habitats, species and landscape features through legislation and appropriate management structures and mechanisms, including a protected area policy, and attempt the control and eradication of invasive species. Implementation progress was reviewed in 2007, 2010 and 2016, read the 2016 review report (external link). 

The Anguilla Invasive Species Strategy highlights the importance of prevention and outlines the required biosecurity actions with agency responsibilities, including Department of Environment, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health Protection, Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Anguilla National Trust. The Invasive Species Strategy was being drafted in 2017 with expectations of finalising it in 2018 but work had to stop due to staff movements, and then to changes in priorities post-hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2018.

There are several pieces of legislation that cover some aspects of biosecurity, but there is a need for stronger legislation. Legislation is primarily concerned with animal and plant health, and invasive species are not mentioned explicitly. Powers exist with relation to the prevention of the spread of diseases for animals and plants (powers of inspection, entry, search, restriction of movement, seizure and destruction). Diseased imported plant and animals can be seized. No release of flora and fauna into marine parks is allowed, and monkeys may not be imported. Internal biosecurity is weak: offshore islands are not explicitly mentioned in legislation.


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