Sat | Oct 21, 2017

New project holds promise of climate resilience for communities

Published:Thursday | March 2, 2017 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
An aerial view of the East Portland Special Fisheries Conservation Area.

FROM THE restoration of coral reef, mangrove and coastal habitat within the East Portland Fish Sanctuary to livelihoods diversification in the Portland Bight Protected Area, several hundred Jamaicans are to benefit from a new climate resilience-building project on the island.

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) is implementing the project - dubbed Coastal Protection for Climate Change Adaptation in Small Island States in the Caribbean - with funding from the German Development Bank, KfW.

With technical support from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the project is responsible for 11 others in the region - four of which are being implemented in Jamaica.

The others are being implemented in St Vincent, Saint Lucia and Dominica.

The Jamaica projects - all of them community based - are being run by:

- the University of the West Indies Centre for Marine Sciences (CMS), working in the East Portland Fish Sanctuary;

- the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM), working in the Portland Bight Protected Area;

- the Westmoreland Parish Council, working in the Negril Environmental Protected Area; and

- the Urban Development Corporation, working in Montego Bay.

"The overall idea is that the projects will take an ecosystem-based adaptation approach to reducing vulnerability to climate change impacts at the community level," noted Leslie Walling, national coordinator for Jamaica, recruited by the IUCN.

"In a number of places, they will be looking at ecosystem restoration. So where you have mangroves that have been impacted, there will be replanting of mangroves. But along with this, is management to ensure that where ecosystems are restored, you have some sort of management regime in place," he added.

 

INCREASED INCOME

 

"In conjunction with all of this, you have the additional ecosystem services in addition to the protections services that relate to livelihoods," Walling said further.

The C-CAM project, for example, is looking to see to mangrove and coastal replanting, armouring, restoration and conservation protection for 45 kilometres of coastline, together with the implementation of a mangrove and coastal forest awareness programme.

This is with the goal to have "1,000 fishers and workers in the fisheries sector benefit from increased income from fishing in the areas surrounding sanctuaries", according to project documents.

The CMS project is, for its part, to have a management plan developed and implemented for the East Portland Special Fisheries Conservation Area, together with training and the development of sustainable livelihoods. It is looking specifically to enhance the community dive business "through the establishment of a partnership with pre-existing local dive operation".

"This will provide fishers with direct training, mentoring and support to operate a community-based scuba diving and snorkelling station (and) a marketing programme implemented to increase citizen and visitor uptake", its project documents revealed.

According to Walling, it is a win-win.

"Because of that additional suite of benefits, you have the opportunity for the development of people in the community to either participate in the ecosystem restoration process or working with to improve management of the areas in which the ecosystems are located or to create livelihood opportunities," he told The Gleaner from Barbados.

Walling said there is little question of the value of the projects' approach, amidst the changing climate with impacts such as coastal erosion.

"All disasters are local so in terms of developing the measures to reduce the disaster risks or adaptation to climate change, those have to be location specific and developed with the input of the community. It is not a one size fits all nor a top-down approach," Walling noted.

He has urged community members to "be aware and be active" as the projects are implemented in the coming weeks and months.

"Be aware of the initiatives that are being implemented in your community and be active from the point of view of ensuring that you know how you can participate or benefit from the project," he said.

Each project has been provided with funding support of US$600,000, with co-financing in kind and/or cash from the beneficiary organisations.

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