Robertine Bazil
Robertine Bazil

The Ministry of Agriculture recently hosted a stakeholder consultation at the Goodwill Parish Hall to introduce a new eco-tourism initiative.

The project GEF7 Leveraging Eco-Tourism for Biodiversity Protect aims at boosting the government's approach to biodiversity and the forestry system. It encourages the government to conserve biodiversity as a part of its tourism pursuit, including the three national parks and the Waitukubuli National Trail. For the areas, the government is asked to complete the METT as part of the assessment of project activities. METT has been designed to track and monitor progress towards worldwide protected area management.

Kervin Stephenson, the project manager, presented on the initiative. The project aims to expand activities for tourists to engage with biodiversity in a sustainable manner. To establish Dominica as the best eco-tourism destination, it is important to improve the regulation and enforcement of its natural capital, the forest, and the government's ability to lessen negative impacts on the forest. Biodiversity is important to Dominica because 60 percent of the island is forests that provide important ecosystem services. To develop, system must be developed. Systems include preparation and finalization of park and trail planning and management guidelines to outline procedures and standards for the development processes. There will be increased attention to long-term finances as well as the benefits of a strategic approach to investment and planning. The project will redevelop links between sustainable tourism development and economic growth in Dominica.

Support for local involved sectors will be provided for the development of a biodiversity-sensitive tourism policy. This will enhance the environment for the protection of biodiversity through sustainable uses of landscapes along the Waitukubuli National Trail and in the three National Parks.

The project is expected to have benefits ranging from employment creation and income generation to poverty reduction. In the employment sector, new workers will be ensured of safety and health at work, fair treatment and equal opportunities. However, there will be a focus on vulnerable workers who will be able to raise workplace concerns. Project activities, equipment, and infrastructure can increase community exposure to risks and impacts. Avoiding negative impacts on the health and safety of project-affected communities will be a key part of the project.