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– In one of Belize’s forest reserves in the Maya Golden Landscape, a group of farmers is working with non-governmental organisations to mitigate and build resilience to climate change with a unique agroforestry project.
The Ya’axché Conservation Trust helps farmers to establish traditional tree crops, like the cacao, that would provide them with long-term income opportunities through restoring the forest, protecting the natural environment, while building their livelihoods and opportunities. Experts say the farmers are building resilience to climate change in the eight rural communities they represent.
The agroforestry concession is situated in the Maya Mountain Reserve and is one of two agroforestry projects undertaken by the 5Cs, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), in its efforts to implement adaptation and mitigation strategies in communities across the Caribbean.
Close to 6,000 people both directly and indirectly benefit from the project which Dr. Ulric Trotz, science advisor and deputy executive director of the 5Cs, noted was established with funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK DFID).
“It is easily one of our most successful and during my most recent visit this year, I’ve seen enough to believe that the concept can be successfully transferred to any community in Belize as well as to other parts of the Caribbean,” he told IPS.
The Trio Cacao Farmers Association and the Ya’axché Conservation Trust have been working together since 2015 to acquire and establish an agroforestry concession on 379 hectares of disturbed forest. The agroforestry project was given a much-need boost with USD250,000 in funding through the 5Cs.
According to Christina Garcia, Ya’axché’s executive director, the project provides extension services. It also provides training and public awareness to prepare the farmers on how to reduce deforestation, prevent degradation of their water supplies and reduce the occurrence of wildfires in the beneficiary communities and the concession area.
Since the start, more than 50,000 cacao trees have been planted on 67 hectares and many are already producing the white cacao, a traditional crop in this area. To supplement the farmers’ incomes approximately 41 hectares of ‘cash’ crops, including bananas, plantains, vegetable, corn and peppers, were also established along with grow-houses and composting heaps that would support the crops.
This unique project is on track to become one of the exemplary demonstrations of ecosystems-based adaptation in the region.
The 35 farming families here are native Maya. They live and work in an area that is part of what has been dubbed the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, which connects the forests of the Maya Mountains to that of the coastal lowlands and is managed by Ya’axché.
Farmers here believe they are reclaiming their traditional ways of life on the four hectares which they each have been allocated. Many say they’ve improved their incomes while restoring the disturbed forests, and are doing this through using techniques that are protecting and preserving the remaining forests, the wildlife and water.
Other members of the communities, including school-age teenagers, were given the opportunity to start their own businesses through the provision of training and hives to start bee-keeping projects. Many of the women now involved in bee-keeping were given one box when they started their businesses.
The men and women who work the concession do not use chemicals and can, therefore, market their crops as chemical free, or organic products. They, however, say they need additional help to seek and establish those lucrative markets. In addition to the no-chemicals rule, the plots are cultivated by hand, using traditional tools. But farmer Magnus Tut said that this is used in conjunction with new techniques, adding that it has improved native farming methods.
“We are going back to the old ways, which my father told me about before chemicals were introduced to make things grow faster. The hardest part is maintaining the plot. It is challenging and hard work but it is good work, and there are health benefits,” Tut told IPS.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) supports the farmers’ beliefs, reporting that up to 11 percent of greenhouse gases are caused by deforestation and “between 24 and 30 percent of total mitigation potential” can be provided by halting and reversing deforestation in the tropics.
“The hardest part of the work is getting some people to understand how/what they do impacts the climate, but each has their own story and they are experiencing the changes which make it easier for them to make the transition,” said Julio Chun, a farmer and the community liaison for the concession. He told IPS that in the past, the farmers frequently used fires to clear the land.
Chun explained that farmers are already seeing the return of wildlife, such as the jaguar, and are excited by the possibilities.
“We would like to develop eco-tourism and the value-added products that can support the industry. Some visitors are already coming for the organic products and the honey,” he said.
Ya’axché co-manages the Bladen Nature Reserve and the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, a combined 311,607 hectares of public and privately owned forest. Its name, pronounced yash-cheh, is the Mopan Maya word for the Kapoc or Ceiba tree (scientific name: Ceiba pentandra), which is sacred to the Maya peoples.
Of the project’s future, Garcia said: “My wish is to see the project address the economic needs of the farmers, to get them to recognise the value of what they are doing in the concession and that the decision-makers can use the model as an example to make decisions on how forest reserves can be made available to communities across Belize and the region to balance nature and livelihoods.”
Scientists believe that well-managed ecosystems can help countries adapt to both current climate hazards and future climate change through the provision of ecosystem services, so the 5Cs has implemented a similar project in Saint Lucia under a 42-month project funded by the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance (EU-GCCA+) to promote sustainable farming practices.
The cacao-based agroforestry project in Saint Lucia uses a mix-plantation model where farmers are allowed to continue using chemicals, but were taught to protect the environment. Like the Ya’axché project, Saint Lucia’s was designed to improve environmental conditions in the beneficiary areas; enhance livelihoods and build the community’s resilience to climate change.
In the next chapter, the Ya’axché farmers project is hoping that, among other things, a good samaritan will help them to add facilities for value-added products; acquire eco-friendly all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to move produce to access points; and replace a wooden bridge that leads to the main access road.
Tut and Chun both support the views of the group’s chair Isabel Rash, that farmers are already living through climate change, but that the hard work in manually “clearing and maintaining their plots and in chemical-free food production, saves them money”, supports a healthy working and living environment and should protect them against the impacts of climate change.
Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency
Wildlife conservationists consider it to be one of the most striking parrots of its kind. Saint Lucia’s best-known species, the endangered Amazon parrot, is recognised by its bright green plumage, purple forehead and dusty red-tipped feathers. But a major conservation organisation is warning that climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity, including the parrot.
Sean Southey chairs the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
He told IPS that urgent action is needed to safeguard the eastern Caribbean island nation’s biodiversity, which is under constant threat.
“With climate change, countries like St. Lucia [experience] significant weather events. The increase in hurricanes, the increase in bad weather and mudslides – these are incredible consequences of climate change,” Southey said.“As you drive across the landscape of St. Lucia, you see a landscape strewn with old plastic bags,” Sean Southey, chair of the Commission on Education and Communication.
Though less than 616 square kilometres in area, St. Lucia is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. The island is home to more than 2,000 native species, of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else.
Other species of conservation concern include the pencil cedar, staghorn coral and St. Lucia racer. The racer, confined to the nine-hectare island of Maria Major, is thought to be the world’s most threatened sake.
Also at risk are mangrove forests and low-lying freshwater wetlands, Southey said.
But he said it was not too late to take action, and he urged St. Lucia and its Caribbean neighbours to take advantage of their small size.
“The smallness of islands allows for real society to get involved. What it means is helping people connect to the environment,” Southey said.
“It means that they need to know and feel and appreciate that their individual behaviours make a difference. Especially the biodiversity decisions [like] land use planning. If you are going to sell your family farm, do you sell for another commercial tourist resort, do you sell it to make a golf course or do you sell it to [produce] organic bananas? These are the type of individual decisions that people have to make that protect an island or hurt an island,” he said.
Southey added that thoughtful management of mangroves and effective management of shorelines, “can create natural mechanisms that allow you to cushion and protect society from the effects of climate change.”
“If you’re over the age of 30 in the Caribbean, you’ve seen a change in weather patterns. It’s not a story that you hear on the news, it’s a reality that you feel during hurricane season every year. So I believe there is an understanding,” he said.
In September 2017, Hurricane Irma tore through many of St. Lucia’s neighbouring islands, including Barbuda.
The category five hurricane wreaked havoc on Barbuda’s world-famous frigate bird colony. Most of the 10,000-frigate bird population disappeared in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane that destroyed the mangroves in which they nest and breed.
While many countries in the Caribbean are working on building natural barriers and nature-based solutions in response to climate change, Southey still believes there needs to be a greater strengthening of that sense that people can actually do something to contribute.
Reducing plastic waste
In June 2016, Antigua took the lead in the Caribbean with a ban on the commercial use of plastic bags.
The island’s environment and health minister Molwyn Joseph said the decision was made in a bid to reduce the volume of plastic bags that end up in the watercourses and wetlands.
“We are giving our mangroves a fighting chance to be a source of healthy marine life, that can only benefit us as a people,” he said.
Antigua also became the first country within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the second within the Caribbean Community, to ratify the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The Nagoya Protocol provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.
On Jul. 3 this year, one of the Caribbean’s largest supermarket chains launched a campaign to discourage the use of single use plastic bags for bagging groceries at its checkout counters, while actively encouraging customers to shop with reusable bags as a more eco-friendly option.
Managing director of Massy Stores St. Lucia Martin Dorville said the company is focused on finding more permanent solutions to reducing plastic waste and its own demand for plastic bags.
He said the decision to encourage customers to use less plastic was bold, courageous and will help manage the adverse impacts of single use plastic on the environment.
“I am very thrilled that one of the number one supermarkets has decided to ban all plastic bags. It’s a small behaviour but it helps everyone realise that their individual actions make a difference,” Southey told IPS.
“As you drive across the landscape of St. Lucia, you see a landscape strewn with old plastic bags, so I was very appreciative of that. But what I really liked is that when I spent over USD100, they gave me a recyclable bag as a bonus to encourage me to use that as an individual so that my behaviour can make a difference,” he said.
He added that if school children could understand the importance of mangroves and complex eco-systems and the need to protect forests, wildlife and endangered birds “then I think we can make a huge difference.”
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and representatives from the Governments of Italy and Saint Lucia held a series of meetings this week, to discuss the development of an early warning system (EWS) for the island.
The Project is being funded by the Government of Italy through its Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea. Using geographic information, the system is expected to forecast the potential effects of national disasters, provide flood mapping and other sector- relevant and necessary information to aid decision-making during events. As the primary stakeholder, the Government of Saint Lucia would be responsible for the operation and management of the system, thereby allowing the country to adequately prepare for major events and conduct comprehensive post-disaster assessments.
Speaking at the meeting Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development the Hon Dr. Gail Rigobert, emphasised the Government’s commitment to the initiative and reiterated the necessity of the system for development planning within the challenges presented by climate change.
Ms. Emmanuela Vignola represented the Ministry’s Director General, Francesco de la Camera. Representatives from the National Emergency Management Office, Meteorology Department, Water and Hydrology and the Ministry of Budget and Planning represented the Government of Saint Lucia. The Centre was represented by its Executive Director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Ms. Sharon Lindo, Policy Adviser and Mr. Albert Jones, Instrumentation Specialist.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.
Belmopan, May 10, 2018 – A three-day National Capacity Building on Climate Change Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) workshop aimed at enhancing Belize’s ability to measure climate risks, ended today. It was held at the George Price Centre for Peace and Development in Belmopan.
The objectives of the workshop are intended to enhance Belize’s national capacity for climate change vulnerability assessments, identify and utilize relevant national, regional and international data resources, tools and models that will provide guidance and information for the VCA. Organisers hoped that the workshop would also help participants to get practical experience in conducting VCAs, identify realistic adaptation activities and actions to address the country’s vulnerabilities and support the national development processes, establish a national network and build communication linkages between practitioners and stakeholders to promote public awareness about climate variability and change, sustainable and economic development, and resilience.
The workshop was organsied by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) with funding from The National Climate Change Office (NCCO) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration (MAFFESDI) in collaboration with the Global Environmental Facility(GEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Experts from the Cuban Meteorological Institute (INSMET Cuba) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) presented on concepts and tools used in developing vulnerability and adaptation assessments as well as the various aspects of the Vulnerability Capacity and Adaptation Measures process. Twenty technical experts from various ministries across the government of Belize participated in the various discussions and presented on their conclusions.
In his opening speech on May 8, 2018, Dr. Percival Cho, Chief Executive Officer of Ministry of AFFESDI, noted: “In order to address and reduce vulnerabilities we face as a nation and develop appropriate adaptation strategies, these assessments need to be updated periodically. Therefore, it is critical that our national technical experts build their capacity.”
Press Release:– The Government of Saint Lucia and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations (UNECLAC), hosted the fifth meeting of the Caribbean Development Round Table, under the theme “Promoting Climate Resilience and Sustainable Economic Growth in the Caribbean,” and the twenty-seventh session of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee on April 26 and 27.
In frank and pointed remarks, Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastenet, also the Chairperson of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee called for deliberate action in dealing with climate change, questioning the preparedness of the region for the hurricane season, which is exactly one month away.
“Climate change doesn’t discriminate,” he said. “It does not have any empathy for you because you are a poor country. It does not have any empathy because more people are unemployed. It does not have any empathy because people in your country are older. It does not have any empathy that you are not prepared. There is no pause button that you can press to get your house in order—it is coming. The sad reality for us in the Caribbean and the most frustrating part of what we are having to face is that we can’t control it. Therefore, the only thing we can do is build resilience.
“At the end of every session, I pull out a pen, for the IMF and other financial institutions to be able to classify the depth of this region to build resilience, is a pen. So once more, the hard evidence that the world is not listening and are not emphatic towards the smallest partners, is evidence. So I am appealing to ECLAC to make sure they become the great generation of implementers.”
Financing green investment for resilience building and structural transformation in the Caribbean, the vulnerability of Caribbean economies caused by de risking and challenges to the offshore financial sector, and implementing the ECLAC debt swap initiative, were among a number of topical areas discussed at last week’s meeting.
Meanwhile, the 37th session of ECLAC will be held from May 7-11 2018 in Havana.
The Global Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, which will deal with climate-related issues, will be established at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
Making the disclosure in his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 8), Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said the Centre is being designed to help vulnerable states to recover quickly from natural disasters.
He said establishment of the facility, which will provide information, expertise, technical advice and guidance, resulted from the World Tourism Conference, which was held in Jamaica last November.
Mr. Bartlett pointed out that the Centre has received support from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Tourism Organization, along with several overseas universities.
The Tourism Minister said the ultimate goal of the Global Resilience Centre will be to assist destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that threaten economies and livelihoods globally with real time data and effective communication.
Mr. Bartlett said that while the tourism sector has traditionally been very resilient, the industry is also one of the most vulnerable to climate change, cybercrime/cyber-terrorism, terrorism and pandemics.
He noted that several powerful hurricanes and storms caused catastrophic damage to the region last year.
“Disruptions within the sector have wider implications for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Ensuring the resilience of the sector is critical to protecting and promoting the well-being of millions of citizens around the world,” Minister Bartlett said.
Caribbean #1point5toStayAlive Explainer: Leon Charles and Spencer Thomas, on 2018 and the Road to COP24
2018 is another crucial year for global climate change negotiations, as Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) develop a work programme for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and as efforts are being made to ensure that the 1.5°C target is eventually reached.
In all the negotiation processes leading to and during the next meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP24) in December, the Caribbean needs to remain actively involved and to make its voice heard.
In this video, regional experts Leon Charles and Spencer Thomas present the agenda for the coming weeks and months, and outline the challenges and the opportunities that the Caribbean must consider in order to secure a satisfactory outcome from forthcoming global negotiations.
PRESS RELEASE – Belmopan, Belize; November 24, 2017 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC/5Cs) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Immigration through the National Climate Change Office (NCCO) is hosting a national training on the Caribbean Weather Impacts Group (CARIWIG) Portal and Climate Change Impacts Tools. This training workshop is being funded by the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) project. The training will be held over a period of 9 days; the first segment of the training is scheduled for the week of November 27th to December 1st, 2017, while the second segment will be held from January 15th to 18th, 2018 at the George Price Center, Belmopan City, Belize.
The Weather Generator (WG), the Tropical Storm Model / Simple Model for the Advection of Storms and Hurricanes (TSM/SMASH), the Caribbean Drought Assessment Tool (CARiDRO) and accompanying web portal and data sets are specific climate change impacts tools aimed at assisting in the generation of scientific information and analysis to help in making informed decisions along with policy formulation and implementation.
The tools are open source online resources to provide locally relevant and unbiased climate change information that is specific to the Caribbean and relevant to the region’s development. Case studies focused on areas such as drought, agriculture, water resources, coastal zone structures, health (dengue fever), and urban development and flooding were also done to test these tools and information related to these case studies will be shared during the Training along with many other interactive sessions. The integration of the tools into national policy agendas across the region is being spearheaded through regional and country workshops, which are crucial to ensuring effective decision-making and improving climate knowledge and action.
Caribbean Weather Impacts Group (CARIWIG) Tools and Portal
- A weather generator has been developed and tested on present day meteorological station observations in the region and found to produce reasonable simulations of both average and extreme weather properties. This tool provides the basis for weather generator based downscaling, required to generate locally relevant bias corrected weather scenarios for impact studies.
- A new tropical storm model has been developed to provide spatial 15-minute scenarios of rainfall and wind speed over Caribbean islands under various scenarios of track, category, movement speed and historic notable storm. Managers may consider such scenarios as part of hazard management. Case study results suggest that hurricane speed, an under-reported metric, is actually of key importance, and that near-misses may be more hazardous than previously supposed.
- The CARiDRO tool has been developed to assist the evaluation of meteorological and hydrological drought for the Caribbean and Central American regions, for both present day and future climate projections. This tool greatly simplifies standard but complex analyses and automatically generates a number of graphical outputs (e.g. time series plots and maps). This tool will support the agriculture and water resource sectors in their assessment and adaptation to drought hazard. A case study verified the CARiDRO tool identification of a region-wide historic drought, and found that future projections indicated increasing regional drought frequency.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.
The Ministry of Public Service, Energy and Public Utilities announces the hosting of Belize’s Energy Week 2017 during the week of November 19 -25 under the observance of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)’s Energy Month 2017. The Energy Unit within the Ministry of Public Service, Energy and Public Utilities is hosting its 2017 Energy Awareness Fair today, November 23, at the Best Western Biltmore Plaza from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) has been invited to participate in the Energy Awareness Fair being celebrated under the theme “RE-Thinking Energy: Shaping a Resilient Community“.
Belize’s Energy Awareness Fair aims to foster stakeholder engagement and the exchange of ideas for appropriate energy related issues in Belize and sensitize the public about Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency and access to clean and alternative modern forms of energy.