The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Center for Marine and Environmental Studies (CMES) hosted a mangrove restoration learning exchange with individuals from the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) in Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI).
The exchange is the first of two that will bring researchers and students together in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the BVI to learn from each other about mangrove restoration techniques. The exchange is funded by the Virgin Islands Community Foundation’s Judith A. Towle Fund.
Faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students attended the exchange, which included a tour of UVI’s new, land-based mangrove and coral nurseries, a visit to a newly restored mangrove site at Range Cay, a tour of the university’s Environmental Analysis Lab, and a site visit to the St. Thomas East End Reserves, a marine protected area and potential future mangrove restoration site.
The exchange was led by UVI Assistant Professor Kristin Wilson Grimes, Ph.D.; Allie Durdall, UVI watershed and marine specialist; and Susan Zaluski, head of marine and maritime studies at the Centre for Applied Marine Studies (CAMS) at the HLSCC.
Grimes leads a group dedicated to growing restoration, research, outreach and education of the territory’s mangroves (GRROE U.S. Virgin Island Mangroves). The nursery has grown over 5,000 mangroves for restoration since its establishment in the spring of 2021 on St. Thomas.
In the BVI, Zaluski and students grow mangroves at three nurseries on Jost Van Dyke, Tortola and Anegada.
“Growing this collaboration and engaging communities across the Caribbean makes restoration more efficient, effective and fun by sharing our successes and learning through failures,” said Grimes.
Kayla Halliday UVI, a Masters of Marine and Environmental Science student, commented, “The BVI learning exchange was such a refreshing way to learn about all of the great things they’ve been doing in their nursery, and it was a nice opportunity to network and exchange information. I am excited to visit their nursery in person soon.”
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