CARIBBEAN SMALL island developing states (SIDS) are losing their forest and coastal ecosystems at an ever-increasing rate, with relatively large tracts of land used for urban, commercial, industrial, and agricultural uses.
This has negatively affected many species of flora and fauna as the ecosystems of which they are a part are diminished; subsequently their numbers are fewer and there is less and less diversity. Species which need specific conditions to live, such as those in high-elevation forest ecosystems, have been most severely affected as their habitats are reduced.
According to 2000 data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, forest cover ranges from 30 per cent in Jamaica to 21 per cent in Cuba, and less than 15 per cent in the islands of St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Climate change, due to greater frequency of very severe hurricanes and rainfall events, is also making land degradation worse and accelerating the deterioration of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems through severe erosion, and pollutant and sediment mobilisation.