Loss of contiguous forest and forest fragmentation threaten US Virgin Islands forests
The primary issues facing the forests of the US Virgin Islands are: contiguous forest loss, loss of transitional forests to development, lack of data on the urban forest resource, hazard mitigation, protection of coastal forest ecosystems, invasive species, and wildfire control. The Forest Action Plan provides strategies to collect more data on urban forest resources, educate various audiences about the importance of maintaining forested properties, protecting forest resources in perpetuity, stopping forest fragmentation by providing incentives for landowners. It suggests forming partnerships with other governmental agencies and with nonprofit organizations to undertake these strategies.
Urban Forest Management: Lack of proper maintenance becomes a threat to urban forests as trees that are not well maintained will often be removed and not replaced. In the US Virgin Islands, there is no one agency charged with maintaining the health of urban trees. Often they do not receive any care until and unless the trees become hazards.
Coastal Forest Ecosystems Protection: Tropical islands rely on coastal forest ecosystems for many important ecosystem services. Mangroves are the backbone of coastal forest ecosystems and their contributions are well studied. Unfortunately, coastal areas are also most likely to be the focus of development activities, potentially damaging these important forests.Coastal forests face strong threats from developers eager to sell land to be developed into high value resorts or expensive homes.
Contiguous Forest Conservation and Management: The areas of contiguous forest in the USVI do not always represent stands of uninterrupted forest. Instead, contiguous forests in the USVI tend to be large patches of forest that are close, but not always adjacent, to other forest patches. Management of these large patches of forest consists of conservation of the existing forest and the protection of areas that provide access to these patches. Increases in the human population of the Virgin Islands and a push for the conversion of forested land into developed areas as a strategy for economic recovery threatens the existing contiguous forest patches.