| || |
Alberto E. Areces-Mallea, Ph. D.
Associate Investigator, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York
"Balancing the Preservation of Unique Cactus with Urbanization and Tourism in the Caribbean"
Category: Conservation of Plant Resources: 2000
Urbanization and tourism are posing significant threats to native species of Caribbean cactus that are not capable of adapting to major environmental changes. Many species are extremely dependent upon specific habitats such as dry coastal areas, slopes and cliffs of eroded limestone, hills, and volcanoes. Nearly all these ecological sites are being converted from their natural state for the purpose of urbanization and developing tourism along island coastlines. Areces-Mallea would like to conserve a valuable and very attractive group of about 130 species of Caribbean plants with the potential for generating income as a tourist attraction. He plans to identify all the Caribbean cacti; resolve or mitigate the causes of threats to their habitat; enforce laws limiting the extraction of rare, threatened or vulnerable species; and educate people on the value of native cacti and the need for their conservation and sustainable use. Areces-Mallea hopes that through his work, government agencies and local people will change their attitudes about the value and beauty of the Caribbean cactus and begin to believe in developing sustainable approaches to saving and using them in natural, urban and tourist environments.