One on land
There is need for greater coordination of land management issues in Barbados.
So said Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, at the closing ceremony of a Sustainable Land Management workshop this morning.
Addressing participants, environmentalists and other stakeholders in a session at the Hilton Barbados, Lowe noted that the workshop represented the end of a year-and-a-half project looking at land management issues in the country, adding that the final reports of each component have been received and should shortly be thoroughly reviewed before presentation of recommendations to Cabinet.
The minister said the upcoming review of the physical development plan was a prime opportunity to look at land management issues, even as he underscored the issues of land degradation facing the country.
“Despite the recognition that there is a problem of land degradation in Barbados, and despite the fact that land use management and planning is addressed in several policy documents at a level that would facilitate mainstreaming, sustainable land management principles, goals and objectives have not been fully mainstreamed into national development policy and plans.
“There is a need to articulate the concept and the practice of sustainable land management in a more precise way in national policy for decision-making purposes. The upcoming review of the physical development plan provides a timely opportunity to further mainstream the issue of sustainable land management,” he stated.
He added too that there was a need for greater coordination on such matters, noting that this was critical to achieving the goal of sustainable management.
“Currently the responsibility for land management is fragmented across several government agencies based on their various mandates for land use and these agencies pursue their respective goals and objectives largely on a sectoral basis.
“While Town and Country Planning Department manages overall land use policy, there is no sectoral or high level agency with the legislative responsibility and oversight for land degradation and land management on a national scale.”
The project in question, he noted, focused on an intensive review of the Soil Conservation Unit and he was awaiting the presentation of the full report, but it had already indicated that the unit was in “dire need of assistance”.
“The Soil Conservation Unit was subjected to an intensive institutional review and analysis in the areas of legislation, human resource requirements, capacity building of staff, technology, land management and intellectual property. The consultant will later formally present his findings.”
He urged stakeholder not to wait on the “powers that be” to start the process of review and change, but to begin the work collectively.
“There is a need for the reemerging of the biodiversity programme and the land degradation programme within the Ministry of Environment and Drainage itself and this will affect the pooling of resources in order to achieve sustainability. In this regard, the ministry will require a comprehensive analysis and review of its structure to ensure that it is capable of fulfilling its role as a main stakeholder in the protection of our environment.
“There must also be an internal reorganising and responsibility to improve the delivery of service while ensuring that staff are strategically placed based on their resident skills sets. The ministry is currently undergoing this internal review,” he stated. (LB)