Towle Environmental Studies Fund Selects Two Award Recipients

Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands

The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) has announced two recipients of the 2018 Judith A. Towle Environmental Studies Fund Award. Established at CFVI in 2003, the Towle Fund supports studies and activities that address environmental concerns that transcend the boundaries of any single island or island state in the insular Caribbean.

Kaira Thais Fuentes-Viera was awarded $2,299 to support her dissertation research study that delves into the role of environmental community-based organizations (CBOs) in natural disaster recovery and community resilience in the Caribbean (a case study of Cano Martin Pena, San Juan P.R.). This unique and timely project focuses on how environmental CBOs in Puerto Rico responded to post-disaster relief efforts following the 2017 hurricanes.

The resulting research will help to fill a gap in understanding how environmental CBOs and other community stakeholders in Puerto Rico and the wider Caribbean can be supported in their own post-disaster recovery.

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), an environmental (non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Dutch St. Maarten was awarded $6,900 to support an economic evaluation study of the Simpson Bay Lagoon that lies at the center of the dual-nation island of St. Maarten (Dutch) and St. Martin (French). The economic valuation of the lagoon will assess revenue generated annually from the services and goods provided by the Simpson Bay wetlands.

It will also offer a cost-benefit analysis of future management scenarios to weigh the trade-offs between conservation and development relevant to the two governments on both sides of the Lagoon.

The Judith A. Towle Environmental Studies Fund Award gives priority to projects that promote integrated approaches to shared environmental concerns in those areas of the Caribbean that were the focus of Towle’s own work for over 40 years.

In commenting on this year’s awardees, Ms. Towle stated that the research initiative in Puerto Rico was the first project from a Spanish-speaking Caribbean island to be supported by the Towle Fund, and the project in St. Maarten/St. Martin directly advances the goals of the Fund by focusing on two political systems that share the same natural ecosystem.