It is estimated that approximately 22 per cent of the land mass in the English-speaking Caribbean is designated as protected areas. 25 professionals tasked with the important job of protecting many of these important resource areas underwent a one week training programme focused on terrestrial protected areas from July 6 to 11 2015 in Trinidad and Tobago. The training programme was led by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) under the framework of the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme.
Despite being drawn from both state enterprises and non-governmental organisations, the representatives of Antigua, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and hosts Trinidad and Tobago, came to the table with many of the same concerns.
Chief among these was how to communicate with the users of the protected areas to minimize the conflict between sustaining livelihoods and sustaining the environment. Participants also expressed the need to be given the tools to work with the communities surrounding the protected areas so that those stakeholders could be brought into the planning and protection efforts for the areas.
Their needs were met through the training, which covered stakeholder engagement and developing partnerships for protected areas management; participatory protected areas design and management planning; developing sustainable livelihoods; and protected areas-relevant law (basic legislation and principles; regulation, compliance and enforcement and financing).
One of the participants, Augustine Dominique, manager of the internationally recognized Pitons Management Authority, welcomed the chosen focus on terrestrial protected areas of this training programme and the good mix of fellow protected area professionals drawn from several Caribbean countries and with experience in both land and marine protected areas management.
Protected Areas Officer for the Caribbean BIOPAMA Programme, Hyacinth Armstrong, had this to say of the workshop: “We had a stimulating, fun-filled week of learning and sharing. The IUCN/CANARI collaboration was well received, as our diverse group remained energetic and engaged throughout. They have the knowledge and tools needed to improve the management of their protected areas and are now better connected.”
BIOPAMA’s capacity building efforts in the Caribbean aim to improve the region’s protected area management capacity through the professional development of protected area personnel and expansion of the network of protected areas professionals involved in biodiversity conservation and protected areas management.
The training programme for terrestrial protected area management that has just ended in Trinidad is part of a series of capacity development for protected areas efforts that BIOPAMA is supporting in the Caribbean. BIOPAMA will organize a similar training in Spanish later this year or in early 2016.