Invasive Alien Species

St. Kitts and Nevis ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1993 as a demonstration of our commitment to conserve and sustainably use our biodiversity. St. Kitts and Nevis recognizes that one of the main causes of biodiversity loss is the impact of invasive alien species on our native flora and fauna. 

Invasive alien species (IAS) are species whose introduction and/or spread outside their natural past or present distribution threatens biological diversity. 

IAS occur in all taxonomic groups, including animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms, and can affect all types of ecosystems.

While a small percentage of organisms transported to new environments become invasive, the negative impacts can be extensive and over time, these additions become substantial. A species introduction is usually vectored by human transportation and trade. If a species’ new habitat is similar enough to its native range, it may survive and reproduce. However, it must first subsist at low densities, when it may be difficult to find mates to reproduce. For a species to become invasive, it must successfully out-compete native organisms, spread through its new environment, increase in population density and harm ecosystems in its introduced range. To summarize, for an alien species to become invasive, it must arrive, survive and thrive. 

The Department of Environment whose responsibility includes coordinating the implementation of the Biodiversity Convention, plays a key role in the control of IAS through inter-agency collaboration.  According to the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) 2014-2020 which articulated a national target for St. Kitts and Nevis, by 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction.  Department of Environment in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture is spearheading an IAS Project which amongst other things includes the development of a national invasive species strategy and action plan. 

Some examples of IAS in St. Kitts and Nevis as seen in the photo below includes: lionfish, green vervet monkey, leucaena leucocephla (wild tamarin), diamond back moth, pink mealy bug, tropical bont tick, red fire ant, silver leaf whitefly, donkey and mongoose. 

Some of the IAS management and control initiatives that would have been undertaken in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis within the last several years includes: 

  • The Primate (Monkey Control) Project 
  • Monkey Trapping Programme 
  • National Response to Loss of Coconut Palms Project 
  • Fruit Fly Surveillance Programme (Carambola Fruit Fly, Mediterranean Fruit Fly) 
  • Monitoring for Invasive Alien Species at Ports of Entry/ during import inspections. 
  • Lion Fish management programme.