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 (HLCC) in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
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; UVI Watershed and Marine Specialist, Allie Durdall; and Head of Marine and Maritime Studies at the Centre for Applied Marine Studies (CAMS) at the HLCC, Susan Zaluski. 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 in St. Thomas, USVI.
In the BVI, Susan 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,” Grimes said.
“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,” student Kayla Halliday said. “I am excited to visit their nursery in person, soon.”
For the next phase of the learning exchange, Grimes and her team will visit the HLCC nursery.
To learn more about mangrove research in the USVI, visit https://viepscor.org/r2r-mangroves or follow the GRROE team on instagram at: grroe.usvi.mangroves