Forestry

                                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vision

The nation’s terrestrial biological resources and their related ecosystems to be conserved, including the prevention of land degradation, to increase the contribution of the Forestry Sub-sector to the gross domestic product.

Mission

To manage and conserve the nation’s flora and fauna including threatened, rare and endangered species, as well as their habitats and associated ecosystems

Role:  Forestry falls under the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda. Under this present structure, which predates the post- colonial era, the Director of Agriculture heads this Unit and by this authority assumes the role of the Chief Forestry Officer under the present legislation (The Forestry Act (Cap.178).

Forestry is one of the Government Agencies in Antigua and Barbuda responsible for the conservation and management of the nation’s terrestrial Biological Diversity. To this end the Forestry Unit has played a major role in the development of the National Biodiversity Strategy and action Plan (NBSAP). In spite of the Unit present limitations, it aims to continue all efforts towards halting and reversing the degradation of the Environment. Also to widen the range of participation in Forestry and Wildlife activities so that all sections of the community become involved in appropriate ways in national and local land improvement schemes.

 

 Projects and activities:

 

Junior Forester Program

Over the past few years we have seen an increase in invasive alien species creating havoc on our shores, indiscriminate clearing of vegetation, annual bush fires further exhaust the resources of the Unit and threaten the survival of our native biological diversity. The repeated request from the various schools around the island for lectures on these themes only reinforced the need for us to develop a more compelling and lasting teaching strategy.

The Forestry Unit has developed a summer program for twenty willing students to engage in. The Junior Forester Summer Program which is designed to introduce students to various conservation activities over a course of two weeks. The objective of this program is to reach, expose and encourage Youth through conservation and the development of life skills. Students attached to this program will be exposed to reforestation and conservation methods, climate change issues and mitigation techniques, trail blazing, biodiversity assessment, nursery, general plant care to include  proper planting and pruning methods.

The forestry Unit has selected four schools to be a part of this pilot program upon success we will expand to include more schools. Teachers will select five (5) students (between ages 9-13 for Primary School) who will represent the school in all activities and training. The officer heading this project will then visit the school to give an in-depth presentation on the project and its activities to the students nominated. This will be necessary so the entire school may have an opportunity to be a part of the undertakings plans throughout the year leading up to the summer program.

 

Forestry Highway Beautification and Clean Air Campaign

The Forestry Unit has made several attempts over the last two decades to develop an Urban Forestry Sector in Antigua and Barbuda. Unfortunately, due to the small size of the Unit the maintenance of these ventures had always proven to be most difficult. The Unit’s responsibilities then included the management of the nation’s terrestrial flora and fauna a task that demanded more man power than was available. With the rise of other environmental management bodies in the Government sector, it has given us a unique opportunity to focus more in the areas that have suffered so terribly in the past. It is with this in mind that the Unit initiated in 2013 the first “Hour trees and clean air campaign”, a program that successfully encouraged, fifty-seven schools throughout the nation of Antigua and Barbuda to participate. The project invited each school to pause for one hour and had teachers together with the student body planted trees on the school compound or on a community ground. For the period between the hours of 9am to 10am, the entire student body paused to plant trees on Tuesday 12th November 2013. The Forestry Unit with the aid of the Christian Valley Agriculture Station provided the trees. A total of, one hundred and sixty plants were distributed by the Unit to the various schools and many more donated by the student and faculty who were encouraged to bring their own plants to enrich the experience. The roadside clean air campaign started in the nineteen nineties with the use of Mahogany and Neem trees in areas along busy roadways; however, demands from the nearby communities had always been for the planting of fruit trees. As part of the Unit effort to contribute to the national food security plan we will establish small arboretum of fruit trees within each community, for the use of all community members.

The creation of green spaces within urban areas reduces flooding and water and air pollution. Within the tropics trees reduce the temperature providing shade reflecting radiation from the sun creating a natural air conditioner feeling. It has been proven that a single mature tree can give the cooling effect of five average room conditioners running twenty four hours. The health benefits of these to nation will immediately be seen as sidewalks with well-tempered lawn creates the desire in individuals to walk more and jog. As a nation we ought to have this perception and provide all with the motivation for this attitude. One need only to visit the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium and see the evidence of this being played out every afternoon; dozens of individuals walking around the well-manicured and aesthetically pleasing roads of the stadium. Imagine this scene been replicated throughout our nation. This alone will have tremendous positive implications for our national health and fitness plan. The summer temperature has always created a high demand for air condition units and by extension increases our national energy bill. This has of course in the pass created pressure on APUA to find solutions to meet the demands. Though solar power is indeed a great option to ease the pressure off the national grid, the planting of trees would change the microclimate of the island and in and of itself reduce the need for artificial cooling. The Forestry Unit will continue its highway tree planting activities that was initiated in the late nineteen nineties and will plant and maintain an added seven miles of roads each year. Exotics will be used to enhance the appeal however the Unit will seek to use native plants that are found within the various location. In the colour coded map provided the thick red lines are areas to be planted by this project this and next year. The green lines are sites that have been planted so far this year with the resources we have. The dark lines are the areas we will be assisting the Ministry of Tourism with. Though special arrangements will be made with some community groups the care of all trees island wide will be the primary responsibility of the Forestry unit. That will include the watering and the maintenance of each tree.

Body ponds

The Body ponds Conservation area is located in the centre of the Body ponds water shed. It is situated south of Fisher dam and east of Brecknocks number 2. I it 1.28 miles from the Forestry Units store room and Nursery located on the out skirts of Bendals. The site is an area that was frequented by fires and thus was prone to major soil erosion issues. It is a sub-watershed roughly 16.5ha with two major streams running through it. The height ranges from 100 to 450 feet with some flat land available. Originally the chief vegetation cover was the lemon grass with some Albizia, Leucaena, guava and very few mangoes. The soil then at first glances appeared overcast with a metallic coat from years of burning.  At the top of the water shed very little soil remained most of the vegetation there consists of lemon grass and a few leucaena growing on shallow soil patches. The banks of the stream ways are still badly eroded and in dire need of stabilization. To date the Unit has successfully reclaimed over twelve acres of land with both fruit and forest trees.

The primary work in this area for the past six years has been in the reforestation of the upper watershed which was as stated above, over grown by the invasive lemon grass. The original project which began with funds from the Spanish government, UNDP and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda was a part of the Sustainable Island Resources Management Mechanism (SIRMM). The Forestry Unit Submitted the project for funding and it was approved as one of the four Demonstration projects of the SIRMM. The project was intended to demonstrate effective and practical methodologies for the rehabilitation and subsequent management of the watershed and for these methods to be documented and available for replication or extension to other areas as appropriate either nationally or regionally, where similar problems and environments occur. There has been so far constructed on the site three terraces one road and a fire buffer zone. Individuals both from public and the private sector have visited the site and partook of tree planting exercises organized by the Unit. Presently there is a gazebo that is under construction and will be the culmination of a short trek through an area of planted trees.

The activities on the site has been mapped and a photographic record kept by the Unit. The number of visitors to the area has dramatically increased due to the breath taking beauty of the valley making the Body ponds rehabilitation site a preferred tourist attraction for off roaders. The site was the staging ground for the first and second Youth intervention Eco-Initiative, a combined effort between the Forestry Unit and the Royal Police Force Youth intervention Unit. Troubled teens from around the island were taken to the site for four weeks out of the summer to learn ecology and life lessons.

 

Community Arboretum

Coming from the heels of ‘Hour Tree’ initiative launched in two thousand (……) The unit started community arboretum in hopes of fulfilling four of the Sustainable development goals, which speaks to Zero Hunger, Good health and well Being, Climate Action and life on land. the management and maintenance of these arboretum will be under the control of Forestry Unit with a co-management relationship between the unit and the communities.

Biodiversity

Since 2017 the unit has embarked on an aggressive drive to not only educate but update preexisting information on the current status of the bat population in Antigua and Barbuda. Workshops, newspaper article, private and public consultation on the importance of bats to the nation’s ecosystem have been and are still being carried out in hopes of dispelling myths about these key stone species.

 

Forestry Nursery

The focus of the nursery is the propagation and distribution of native species of ferns, shrubs and trees. At present the unit propagates a variety of fruit trees to include mango, coconuts, cashew, dumbs, cherry, marly apple and guava. Forest type tree that aids in the units ongoing reforestation efforts such as Mahogany, silk cotton, royal palms, cassia fistula. Cassia javanica just to name a few. The general public is always welcome to purchase plants.

Services Provided

The unit provides a wide range of environmental services to include

Ø Nutrition sensitive landscape consultation

Ø Urban Forestry development: Tree husbandry (training in proper pruning, felling and or planting)

Citing

Proper Tree Care and Maintenance

Hurricane preparation, consultation and services

Bat removal

Survey

Trail Blazing and trail maintenance

Environmental presentations and workshops

 

 

 

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Faces at the Forestry Unit

 

 

  Adriel Thibou – Senior Forestry Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Algernon Grant – Forestry Assistant 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Camillia Wallis – Forestry Assistant 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11th Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF2022)

 

 

 The OECS Commission recently held its 11th Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF2022) in Barbados. Representing Antigua & Barbuda at this meeting was Mr. Adriel Thibou, (Senior Forestry Officer – Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries & Barbuda Affairs) and the National Focal Point of the Integrated Landscape Approaches and Investments in Sustainable Land Management (ILM) in the OECS project.

The CUF is an annual three-day Conference for land use practitioners, policy makers, academics and allied professionals interested in urban and land management issues within the Caribbean. The theme of this year’s event is “Beyond COVID: Recovery-Renewable-Resilience”. Professionals engaged in planning and development including land (resources) management were urged to recognize the significance of climate change adaptation and hazard vulnerability reduction measures for future sustainable development patterns.

The OECS Commission also utilized the opportunity to meet with all (Global Climate Change Alliance) GCCA-ILM Focal Points to coordinate, discuss and update on project activities. The “Integrated Landscape Approaches and Investments in Sustainable Land Management in the OECS” project, is funded under the European Union Global Public Goods and Challenges Programme to an amount of EUR 5 million. The overall objective of the project is to optimize the contribution of land to agriculture, food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the preservation of ecosystems and the essential services they provide. It is expected that initiatives under this project will contribute to; climate smart and sustainable agriculture farming system; enhancement of cross-sector approaches to land use planning and management; the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs); the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs); National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans; REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation & Forest Degradation) strategies and plans to curb deforestation and forest degradation; and strengthening ecosystem management in general.

The Specific Objective (SO1) of the OECS-ILM project is to strengthen the economic, social, and environmental resilience of Member States to the impacts of climate change and other hazards through the implementation of Integrated Landscape Management (ILM), Sustainable Land Management (SLM), Integrated Watershed Management (IWM), and other relevant approaches. Essentially, ILM seeks to integrate various economic, social, and biophysical considerations into a common framework for analysis and action.

Here on Antigua, through the execution of A Sustainable Approach to the Development and Management of the Body Ponds Conservation Area the expected Project Outputs under this objective are

 

Expected Output (SO1-1): Scalable physical adaptation initiatives that help conciliate different land uses, foster innovation and lessons learning are field tested and deliver multiple agricultural, climate and biodiversity-related benefits.

Expected Output (SO1-2): improved land governance and management systems are promoted, notably through better cross-sectoral coordination, enhanced participation of land users and local stakeholders, including local communities, women, and the private sector, in land-related decisions, and other appropriate land governance measures.

Expected Output (SO1-3): the capacities of actors and institutions for sustainable landscape management are enhanced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forestry Division hosted Kids Unlimited

Last week, the Kids Unlimited Summer Campers were the first group of children to be given a guided tour of the Body Pond area since 2019. Due to the lock-down caused by the Covid 19 Pandemic no tours were conducted over the three-year period. A group of 45 campers along with their counsellors arrived by school buses to Body Pond. Once there they were met by several staff of the Forestry Unit.

 

The visitors were briefed by the Senior Forestry Officer, Mr. Adriel Thibou who explained the project (the creation of a fruit orchard) and the tree planting activity. Afterwards, they journeyed to the planting site, and this required a hike to the top of the newly created trail. Ms. Jenel Warner and Ms. Reba Ambrose Forestry Unit Staff led the party up the trail where they were joined at the top of the hill by Mr. Ezra Francis. Mr. Francis assisted in the tree planting exercise activity of the day. In preparation for this activity the Unit staff had holes dug for the number of plants requested by the camp leaders. They were given the option of either mango or tamarind trees to plant.

 

The feedback received from the group was that they were very pleased to be able to participate in assisting the Forestry Unit in the expansion of the Body Pond Orchard, which will one day serve as the climax of the trail system.