An integrated approach
As a nation with limited resources, Dominica relies a great deal on the land, and the natural resources it supports. The land provides a myriad of services which are essential to human activities.
Agriculture is important in ensuring food security; tourism is important for social and economic development; there is a need for the expansion of human settlements, as well as industrial and commercial expansion; recreation is important for social well-being; while natural ecosystems need to exist in order to maintain resources. In any one community, one can find all these activities being performed. Not all of these activities are compatible; resulting in adverse practices by various stakeholders.
Current land management efforts seek to address the ensuing problems such as over exploitation, pollution, and land degradation. These problems reduce productivity of agricultural lands; adversely affect biodiversity, ecosystem interactions and water resources; increase vulnerability- and reduce adaptability to climate change. The land-use practices of the stakeholders and their problems are interrelated; therefore, land management approach should be an integrated one.
These efforts are also hindered by an uncoordinated approach. Land management will not be sustainable if done in isolation, without the involvement of the community. An isolated, top-down approach is ineffective considering the intertwining uses of a natural resource. Acknowledging the important of an integrated approach, the Government of Dominica has secured assistance from the United National Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to undertake the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Project.
The SLM project will:
ü Support the development of natural resource maps, vulnerability atlases and resource management plans at the community level
ü Improve community participation and ownership in coastal and terrestrial resource management (including hazard mapping and climate change adaptation planning and management) utilizing traditional knowledge
ü Establish a Central Database for all natural resource maps and management plans in order to improve inter-agency coordination in support of Integrated Ecosystem Management
ü Strengthen environmental and natural resources legislation to support community participation and involvement in resource management.
SLM Project fosters inter-agency collaboration
From commencement of the project in 2009 to January 2010, the SLM project developed the Trainers’ Handbook for Community Resource Mapping, Vulnerability Atlases and Community Resource Management Plans (For a copy of the Trainer’s Handbook, please contact the Environmental Coordinating Unit).
In February 2010, the SLM project underwent an eight-day pilot training workshop to test the Trainers’ Handbook and develop the capacities of extensions officers from various departments, village councils and other local groups in the process of developing Community Resource Maps and Vulnerability Atlases.
Participants received theoretical and practical training in the use of Global Positional Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The practical sessions took place in two (2) of the pilot communities; Layou and Colihaut. Consultative meetings were held in both Villages with members of the village councils, improvement committees and other community organizations to explain the overall objective of the SLM project, and the asset mapping process. Extension officers worked alongside members of the community to collect information for the development of the asset maps for each community.
This training exercise proved to be exceedingly successful, directly demonstrating not only the critical importance of public consultation and participation, but also the efficiency of sectoral integration.
Consultation on SLM Legal Issues Paper with key stakeholders
Following the success of the integrative participatory approach of the technical component of the project, the Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Project intends to meet with the key stakeholders, amongst them being policy makers, permanent secretaries, and heads of departments, to present a Legislative Issues Paper, which discusses current gaps in the laws and regulations concerning environmental management. The discussions will take place on Monday, April 26th, 2010 at a National Workshop to be held at the Fort Young Hotel. The legislative consultant on the project, will demonstrate the need not only for further regulations, but also to validate the importance of better coherent and cohesive planning mechanisms between ministries and departments, and with communities, with regard to the use of natural resources.