Redonda rewilding success


The extraordinary ecological transformation of Redonda, a small Caribbean island, has become a beacon of hope for environmentalists globally.

Initially a desolate rock, it has evolved into a thriving wildlife haven within a few years, thanks to the tenacity of Antiguans and Barbudans. Now, a remarkable achievement marks the island’s official designation as a protected area by the government, securing its status as a critical nesting site for migrating birds and a habitat for unique species.

The newly established Redonda Ecosystem Reserve, spanning a vast 30,000 hectares, includes seagrass meadows and a coral reef, surpassing the global “30×30” target to protect 30% of the planet for nature by 2030.

The transformation from a barren moonscape resulted from a project initiated in 2016. The relocation of invasive black rats and the eradication of goats that devastated vegetation allowed native species to flourish, showcasing the successful collaboration of the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), the government, and partners like Fauna and Flora International (FFI).

Arica Hill, Executive Director of the EAG, hails the protected status as a “huge win for Antiguans and Barbudans.”

“This is the largest marine protected area in the Eastern Caribbean; it showcases the amazing work that conservationists and environmentalists can do right at home,” she tells the BBC. “What is even more significant is that the government has trusted us to legally manage it too.”

Feasibility studies are underway to reintroduce historical species like the burrowing owl, and a robust governance system, including surveillance cameras and fishing activity monitoring, aims to keep the island free from invasive threats.

FFI’s Jenny Daltry emphasises the critical importance of restoring and safeguarding areas like Redonda in the face of alarming extinction rates on Caribbean islands.

The island’s biodiversity now includes dozens of threatened species, globally significant seabird colonies, and endemic lizards. Fifteen species of land birds have returned, and populations of the critically endangered Redonda ground dragon have surged.

Formerly known as “the rock,” Redonda is now fiercely protected by local residents, reflecting a rare success story for small islands grappling with climate change challenges.

“Our little sister island that many people never see has been able to invoke such national pride,” she smiles.

“To me as an Antiguan and Barbudan, this work has been monumental. We are forever written into the fabric of Redonda’s history; I’m so proud to have been instrumental in this and can’t wait to see what Redonda’s legacy will be moving forward.”

“Reaching our ’30×30′ target tells the rest of the world that this is possible. Even though we don’t put out the most emissions, we are among the most impacted and we are still the ones meeting our target early,” Shanna continues.

“We are putting our money where our mouth is. I hope this is an inspiration to other countries that if little Antigua and Barbuda can do it, so can you.”

The island’s accomplishments are especially poignant for Johnella Bradshaw, the reserve’s coordinator, as she acknowledges the existential threats posed by unprecedented climatic conditions.

“Growing up, going through school and college, a career in the environmental field was unheard of. The emphasis was on being a doctor, dentist or lawyer,” she says.

“When you think about conservation, you think about things happening in America or Europe, not a little island in the Caribbean.

“Now we are at the forefront of international conservation we can change that narrative, and show younger generations that people who look like me can do this.”

Johnella is eager to prove that the protected status won’t just exist “on paper” but “in reality too”.

She recalls Hurricane Irma’s devastation to Barbuda six years ago and the ongoing risks from warming seas across the region.

“You hear about climate change, rising temperatures and stronger storms but we are feeling it. This summer has been awful, it’s so hot,” Johnella adds. “But if we all play our part, together we can make a difference.”

Redonda’s success shines as a positive beacon amid the prevailing environmental challenges.



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The decline in our wildlife is shocking and frightening. Without much more support, many of the animals we know and love will continue in their decline towards extinction.

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We are convinced that this is much better for the UK than growing lots of fast-growing coniferous trees, solely to remove carbon, that don’t actually help our animals to thrive.

This is why we stand for restoring nature in the UK through responsible rewilding. For us, it is the right thing to do. Let’s do what’s right for nature!

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