Green Antilles interview: Karen McDonald Gayle

Karen McDonald Gayle. Image: courtesy Karen McDonald Gayle
Biodiversity
1

The Green Antilles interview today is with Karen McDonald Gayle. Karen works with the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund, helping to establish sustainable financing for biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean.  

Please tell Green Antilles readers about yourself, your work as an environmental professional and what that work involves.

My early work experiences led to my Masters and were all focused on EIAs and Audits.  I moved from the field to project management and worked in development projects and environmental grantmaking in Jamaica and then regionally, with further expansion and interest in environmental fund management and development.  I am currently the Conservation Finance Program Manager with the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund.  My main task is the creation of Environmental Funds in countries throughout the Caribbean.

What first sparked your interest in the environment and environmental issues in the Caribbean?

​This is a a simple consequence of my upbringing. My parents – Trinidadian and Jamaican – are geologists and we were always in the field and being shown rocks and other features.  Then my father went on to a regional post based in Antigua.  So at a young age, I had seen more of Jamaica and the Caribbean than most of my peers. ​ 

What are you most concerned about regarding environmental protection, management, and conservation in the Caribbean?

M​y biggest concern for the Caribbean is that the majority of persons either believe the environment can survive anything so we do not need to change or that the change is someone else’s problem and not each person’s.  Unfortunately, I also feel a lot of the people in the first category are in decision-making positions, being influenced by non-environment wealth arguments. Finally, as much as I love and promote the region, we do not work well together.  We are many countries, many governments and many people who have not demonstrated well the value of joint efforts in any sector including the environment.

On the flip side, what do you think are some of the bright spots and opportunities for the Caribbean when it comes to the environment and environmental issues?

I think the sector is growing and the number Caribbean-based/home-grown ​experts is also growing and we need to become the consultants, the programme designers for our region.

What do you find most satisfying about working as an environmental professional in the Caribbean?

M​y biggest boast as an environmental professional is that we are hardly ever always in the meeting room – we go out in the field and this has been the case for me all over the region and the world.  As a West Indian, being able to play a part in the development of our region in a positive way is most satisfying.

[Interview responses have been edited lightly for clarity/readability. Image: courtesy Karen McDonald Gayle.]

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Parrotfish. Image: Acquarius Sea Tours
Biodiversity
Conserving fish biodiversity helps protect coral reef health

Research from the Dominican Republic shows how greater fish biodiversity makes for healthier coral reefs: The health of coral reefs can be impacted as much by the diversity of fish that graze on them as by the amount of fish that do so, according to a new study by scientists …

Esther Wolfs. Image: courtesy Esther Wolfs.
Interview
Green Antilles interview: Esther Wolfs

Today’s Green Antilles interview is with Esther Wolfs, an environmental economist who has worked across the Caribbean, from Bonaire to Belize to the Cayman Islands. She is the founder of Wolfs Company, a consulting company that focuses on incorporating the value of natural capital in decision-making for sustainable development. For …

Stony coral tissue loss disease. Image: via US NOAA
Biodiversity
1
Stony coral tissue loss disease spreads through the northern Caribbean

In recent weeks both St. Maarten and the US Virgin Islands have reported cases of stony coral tissue loss disease. The first incidence of stony coral tissue loss disease was recorded in 2014 in Miami-Dade county in Florida, and the disease has since spread south through the Florida Keys. Outbreaks …