Identify and describe your local surrounding ecologies and environments and list the specific factor that distinguishes them

What does the future hold for them

Ecology and environment of a region forms the most critical factor in defining, supporting and sustaining developments and most importantly creating a unique intergenerational equity.  By understanding and creating an effective mechanism through models that reflect the need for diversity, ecology becomes a central pillar in accelerating a regions development.  It is from this consideration that this paper describes the ecology and environment of the United States Virgins Island and surrounding region, lists specific factors that distinguish them and finally establishes its future.

A brief analysis of United States Virgin Islands
Randall and Randall (2001) explain that the United States Virgin Islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus back in 1493 before falling under Europeans control during their colonization of (new land) and the era of slave trade.  The islands are located between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea which make them very rich in biodiversity (see diagram I).
Figure I Location of the US Virgin Island (Randall and Randall, 2009).
 INCLUDEPICTURE httpcoris.noaa.govabouteco_essaysvirgin_islandsmediavimap6.jpg  MERGEFORMATINET

Ecology and environment of The US Virgin Island
The ecology and environment of the United States Virgin Island is largely aquatic with little terrestrial annotation.  As a result, Ostfeld and Schlesinger (2009) explain that the islands growth and development are entirely dependent on the ecology especially from its well developed tourist activities.

a) Geography of the island
US Virgin Islands consist of varied land masses that facilitate equally different types of ecosystems.  Notably, the islands are largely low lying with several highlands like Mt. Sage with, 1,710 feet, Mt Eagle with 1, 88 feet and Crown Mountain which forms the highest point with 1,556 feet (Sharma, 2007). Notably, all the islands are characterized with major cliffs towards the Eastern side while southern and western ends have low-lying white beaches.  Sharma (2007) adds that that the islands have only few protected harbors.  Notably, all the geographical features remain unique from others in the United States hinterland due to their aquatic derivation and continued influence.

b) Climate of the Island
As Santaru (2008) points out, US Virgin Islands climate is largely dependent on activities of the sea.  As a result, the Islands are washed by easterly trade winds which make it have little variation in annual temperatures.  Besides, the island experience relatively low humidity that is largely influenced by local effects of land and sea breezes during the day and nights.  The Islands has a subtropical climate which is generally hot and humid with rain falling between the months of August and October (Ostfeld and Schlesinger, 2009).

c) Flora and Fauna
Virgin Island has one of the most diverse flora and fauna largely from suitability of climate to them.  In addition, the diversity of these habitats which include fresh waters, aquatic waters, arid lands and built environments provide a haven of perfect coexistence.  In the lowland regions, plants include mangroves, papyrus, red turpentine and palms (Arvind, 2007). Moist hillsides on the other hand are characterized by bushes and different orchids while drier areas have cactus, acacia tress and agaves (see diagram II).  Other types of plants include mangoes, papayas, bananas and sea grapes, century plant, and Cigar Thomas which are evergreen (, 2010).
Diagram II Cactus in the virgin island drier areas (, 2010).

Similar to the flora, fauna in the region is equally diverse.  They include, iguanas and lizards in the drier and rocky interlard while insects characterize most of the flowery upper and lowland regions (USVI.Com, 2010).  Farm animals such as goats, donkeys, pigs and cows are kept for commercial purpose in agricultural lands.  Marshy lowlands as Arvind (2007) records are further dominated by frogs, herons, doves, pelicans and sea egrets (see figure IV).

Despite the fact that most of the flora and fauna are available in other regions, the articulate management that provides an effective natural environment distinguishes the islands from other regions. These conservation regions include Virgin Island National Park, Virgin Island Coral Reef National Monument and Buck Island Reef National Monument (USVI.Com, 2010).    
Figure IV Heron in shallow waters (Arvind, 2007)

The future of virgin island ecology and environment
Though ecology and environment of US Virgin Islands have remained noticeable for its explicit conservation strategies, its future as Juli et al (2010) indicate is greatly threatened by fast development of urban regions.  Juli et al (2010) continue to lament that despite the authorities clear understanding of environments role in sustainability, the same is not reflected in the development of touristy facilities such as expansive resorts and beaches.  Besides, the fast invasion by alien species further threatens the very existence of the local flora.

Conclusion and recommendations
It is from the above discussion that this paper concludes by supporting the thesis statement, ecology and environment of a region forms the most critical factor in defining, supporting and sustaining developments and most importantly creating a unique intergenerational equity.  United States Virgin Island came out as a region whose ecology and environment is very diverse.  Its strategic location in the Atlantic gives it the peculiarity of climate which is further effectively augmented by effective management.  However, the environment and ecology future is greatly threatened by fast invasion of the alien species and pollution from the developing urban regions.  As a result, there is need for the islands management to check urban development and establish mechanisms to reduce invasion of alien species.


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