Farmers tend the Reef in paradise…

A group of thirty-four farmers on an island in the eastern Caribbean are now committed guardians of Grenada's coral reefs.  The forward-thinking farmers took an oath to protect and conserve these valuable ecosystems at the official launch ceremony in September for Grenada's new Reef Guardian Farmers stewardship program.

The Hon. Roland Bhola, Minister of Agriculture, Lands Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment presenting a Reef Guardian Farmer with his farm sign.

Following a knowledge exchange visit to Australia in July 2013, the Grenada Fisheries Division set about raising awareness of the connections between land and sea and the need to recognize and enhance farm practices to improve the health of Grenada’s coral reefs… and the Grenada Reef Guardians program was born. 

Modeled on the success of the Great Barrier Reef’s flagship Reef Guardian Program, staff from Grenada’s Marine Protected Areas program have been working with community groups to design a program that would focus on stewardship as a way to help protect reefs. The program concept was enthusiastically received by farmers in the catchment upstream from the Mouliniere - Beausejour Marine Protected Area, the jewel in the crown of Grenada’s coral reefs.

In September, officials from the Grenada Fisheries Division worked with a select group of farmers from the North East Farmers Organization to launch the Caribbean-first program in St Georges, Grenada. Reef Guardian coordinator Christabelle Andrews was full of praise for the first Reef Guardian farmers in Grenada, “It does not matter how far away from the reef you are, everyone can help improve the health and future of the reefs in Grenada. Our farming families are passionate about the environment and the Reef Guardian Farmers program is a way to recognize some of the work that they are doing to develop and maintain sustainable farming practices.”

Environmental stewardship is emerging as a crucial element in reef conservation and management programs.   Shortly to feature a Schools and Communities program, the Grenada Reef Guardians pilot program is being developed as part of the AusAID-funded Australia Caribbean Coral Reef Collaboration.  This collaboration aims to exchange knowledge and experience between coral reef regions to improve the outlook for coral reefs and support sustainable development that is resilient to climate change.

Read more about the project on our website here, or get in touch with the Reef Guardian Coordinator Christabelle Andrews at ecopals12@gmail.com