Island of Redonda, Once Compared to 'Barren Moonscape', Blooms Again

Oct 4, 2023

With a population of just 98,000 people, the archipelago of Antigua and Barbuda is among the world’s smallest nations. Yet the Caribbean country is making big waves among ecologists, thanks to the revitalization of an island ravaged by invasive species.

Redonda is one of the tiny islands that makes up Antigua and Barbuda. It’s only a mile long. Its size made it highly vulnerable to hordes of rats and goats brought over by European colonists as they settled throughout the Caribbean. Once, Redonda teemed with nesting birds and reptiles. But its flora was stripped away and native species pushed out. The island became what the BBC called a “barren moonscape.” Residents dubbed it “the rock.”

In 2016, however, a nonprofit nature group moved the goat herds elsewhere and got rid of the rats. They also lobbied to get Redonda labeled a protected area. Now the island is part of the Redonda Ecosystem Reserve. It's a haven of coral reefs and seagrass meadows. It spans 74,000 acres.

Lured by the regrown grass and sheltered nesting sites, 15 species of land bird have returned to Redonda. Species of lizards have bounced back, too. One of them is the Redonda ground dragon. It's critically endangered.

The sheer size of the protected area also means that Antigua and Barbuda has become one of the first nations in the world to meet the United Nation’s “30x30” pledge to protect 30% of its territory by 2030.

"Reaching our '30x30' target tells the rest of the world that this is possible," A local ecologist told the BBC. She said she hopes the nations' achievement inspires other countries to strive for the same.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons courtesy of Liam Quinn.

Reflect: What role do you think small actions and community efforts can play in making a positive impact on the environment?

Thes story is mainly about _______. (Common Core RI.5.2; RI.6.2)
a. European colonization in the Caribbean
b. the Redonda ground dragon
c. coral reefs and seagrass meadows in the Caribbean
d. the positive environmental changes on Redonda Island
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