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Dominican NGOs promotes local conservation efforts at regional seminar in Trinidad and Tobago

Dominican NGOs promotes local conservation efforts at regional seminar in Trinidad and Tobago

Port of Spain, March 26, 2024 – The United States Forest Service (USFS) through its Natural Infrastructure for Caribbean Resilience (NICaR) program recently concluded a five-day regional seminar on ecosystem restoration in Trinidad and Tobago. The event welcomed participants from environment protection institutions, community-based organizations, tertiary institutions, across five NICaR grantee countries.

The forum sought to promote best practices and practical solutions implemented by grantee organizations to foster resilience to climate change impacts in the Caribbean region. Participating countries included Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica Trinidad and Tobago as well as partner institutions in the United States. The five-day forum focused on restoration initiatives implemented by NICaR grantees to increase resilience to climate extremes and preserve biodiversity.

Throughout the seminar, participants engaged in discussions, knowledge-sharing sessions as well as explored innovative solutions to enhance upland forest restoration, conservation, disaster risk reduction and urban resilience.

The Dominican contingent comprised of the Dominica Red Cross (DRC) represented by Hihson Bogounoueau and Ken Leslie, while the President of the Anse Kouanari Tourism Association (AKTA), a community-based NGO, Malcolm Abrahams was also in attendance.

NICaR, supported the DRC in upland forest and disaster restoration through their post hurricane disaster forest restoration efforts in the Tarreau community. “During [Hurricane] Maria we lost a lot of our forest cover and so that grant was quite fitting in helping us to re-establish that forest not just for hurricanes, but fire hazards which the community is also prone to”, explained Bougouneau, a DRC volunteer. To date, more than 600 trees have been planted and a hazard map developed as part of a Disaster Management Plan.

Through NICaR grant support, AKTA is a sub-grantee of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute(CANARI). Under CANARI’s Ecosystem restoration to build Caribbean resilience to climate change, the community-based organization is enhancing efforts in upland forest and post disaster landscape restoration to reduce landslides in Good Hope. As a result of NICaR’s intervention and other vulnerability projects, AKTA has replanted approximately 2 acres of bare land with 2700 plants/trees.

In addition to the seminar component, the regional exchange saw visiting grantees participating in the annual Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation (FACRP) Gayap or community workday, led by grantee partner, FACRP. The three-day field activities featured cultural exchanges as well as support to community-led disaster risk reduction and fire prevention activities in the high-risk areas of Carenage and St. Ann’s.

Perspectives on the regional experience

“Going back to Dominica Red Cross, it [seminar] provided some appreciation for conservation experience and some real-life experiences. Some best practices have been identified and we will put those into action” said DRC volunteer, Hihson Bougouneau.

For his experience AKTA President Malcolm Abrahams said, “During the seminar I learned quite a bit, from the different countries in terms of the way in which they do certain things”. On reflection of the overall program he added, “The NICaR intervention has gone a long away in the community of Good Hope”.

As participant-observers of the GAYAP experience, the Dominicans and the other attendees helped the communities to create fire breaks, clear fire lines and pathways to reduce the occurrence of bush/forest fires.

“For me it was a good learning experience, I feel that I am more aware of what is needed to be done to help protect the forest. Some of the policies I learnt about, I never knew. I was able to see the different fire breaks – this trip, I saw some different things I know we need to implement.” said DRC volunteer, Ken Leslie.

In addition to the knowledge exchange, The Dominican participants also acknowledged the benefit of the NICaR’s thrust to promote local and regional connections.

“We are hoping we can continue these partnerships not just locally. We formed a regional family that we can learn from and share with each other. NICaR was instrumental in building this close-knit regional conservation grouping that we can learn, best practices, experiences and actions”, affirmed Bougouneau.

The NICaR Program implemented by the USDA Forest Service International Programs Office with support from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs. NICaR supports 18 organizations across nine Caribbean countries through mangrove, upland forest restoration and disaster preparedness initiatives. In total grantees have received USD 577,000 to implement resilience actions.

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