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      Biosphere Reserve Information

United States of America


  General Description   This biosphere reserve occupies about two-thirds of the volcanic island St. John and its surrounding waters. The area includes steep hillsides, rocky shores, coral and sand beaches, numerous bays, fringing coral reefs, canyons of coral ledges, coral gardens, turtle grass beds, mangrove swamps and natural salt ponds.
About 900,000 visitors per year visit the area for diving and snorkelling, boating, fishing and hiking. The Cruz Bay Visitor Center provides orientation talks, guided snorkel trips and cultural demonstrations. The island now faces serious environmental problems from increasing tourism and residential development, including destruction of wildlife habitats, reef destruction, commercial fishing activities, water as well as land erosion and related sedimentation on coral reefs. The main aim of the biosphere reserve is to protect natural systems while enhancing the quality of life for the local community.
In cooperation with other local institutions and agencies, the Virgin Island Resources Management Cooperative (VIRMC) has completed a variety of studies within the biosphere reserve including characterization of local fisheries, analysis of the cultural role of fishing, mapping of nearshore marine communities, as well as descriptions of the bays and marine communities.
  Major ecosystem type   Marine archipelago
  Major habitats & land cover types   Volcanic island; marine system including coral reefs; moist forest areas including trees such as kapok, mango, sandbox, saman, Strangler fig and genip; coastal areas; dry forest vegetation including cactuses; mangrove forests.
  Location   1821'N; 6444'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   6,130
  Core area(s)  
  Buffer zone(s)  
  Transition area(s) when given  
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   0 to +389
  Year designated   1976
  Administrative authorities   Virgin Islands National Park National Park Service

Last updated: 17/08/2000

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