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Ecosystem-based Adaptation Project

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Increasing the climate change resilience and public awareness of the Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area and Pigeon Island National Landmark ecosystems

Project Background & Description

The coastal areas of the Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA) and Pigeon Island National Landmark (PINL) comprise networks of interconnected systems including beaches, sea grass beds, coral reefs, dry forests, mangroves (PSEPA only) and off shore islets (PSEPA only). These provide safe habitats for threatened terrestrial reptiles, marine turtles, migratory and resident land and sea birds, fish nurseries and forest products, some of which sustain livelihoods. The PINL and PSEPA include significant historical assets and support a variety of activities including hiking, horse-back riding, snorkeling, kayaking, bee keeping, sea moss cultivation swimming, picnics, weddings and events.

However, PINL and PSEPA have suffered severe coastal degradation and damage to coastal infrastructure and ecosystems over the last decade as a result of both natural events, including storm surges, hurricanes and flooding. Within the PSEPA, unsustainable anthropogenic and poor land use activities have either intensified the impacts of natural events or eroded the natural resilience of the coastal resources that would normally offer protection to these coastlines. The eastern boundary of the PSEPA faces the Atlantic and is therefore fully exposed to the impacts of tropical weather events. Both the PSEPA and PINL experience surface runoff from surrounding hills which, during heavy rainfall, leads to soil erosion on PINL, and flooding in the PSEPA. This has negative impacts on coastal resources which sustain livelihoods. The PSEPA’s and PINL’s coral reefs and sea grass beds are rich in marine biodiversity and related ecosystem services which support high value socio-economic activities, including fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. However, there are significant knowledge gaps as to the relative health of these ecosystems as well as the value of the ecosystem services they provide.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is clear link between climate change vulnerability and ecosystem productivity. If the availability and quality of the PINL and PSEPA ecosystem services decline due to climate change and ecosystem degradation, so too will the viability and security of the livelihoods of resource users. Resource users must, therefore, have a practical understanding of the ecosystem functions and benefits of PSEPA and PINL, the impact of climate change on the ecosystems, how they might respond, and how these responses can include successful adaptation to climate change. Educating and engaging local communities and resource users to assist with protecting, enhancing and continuous assessment of the health of PINL and PSEPA ecosystems will thus provide them with a better chance to cope with shocks and disasters.

This project will contribute to climate risk reduction by enhancing the climate resilience of targeted coastal ecosystems through improved health and management, and strengthening of the coastlines of the PINL and PSEPA. One of the strategies employed under this project is to assess the adaptive capacity and ecosystem value of the mangrove forest within the PSEPA and the coral reefs within the PSEPA and PINL regions.

The coral reef off of the coast of PINL is the largest in the north-west of the island and is prone to the negative impacts of extreme weather events, sedimentation and improper anchorage of vessels. However, very little official monitoring of the status of the reef has been done in recent years and as such the current health and resilience of the reef is unknown. Thus, an assessment of the reefs is necessary, followed by enhancement measures and the establishment of ongoing monitoring systems. The information obtained from the reef assessments will provide more in-depth information about the current status and vulnerabilities of the reef which will in turn guide the enhancement measures to be undertaken. Resource users will be educated about the vulnerability of the reef, and the connectivity and economic benefits of healthy reefs, and will also be trained to monitor and maintain the reefs. This increased knowledge and training will increase human resource capacity to maintain the reefs and contribute to improved reef maintenance, increased revenue generation and greater sustainability of project interventions.

As it relates to protection from climate related events, mangrove ecosystems help stabilize coastlines, reduce the impacts of strong winds, and prevent erosion from waves and storms. Apart from serving as a breeding, feeding and nursery habitat for fish and other terrestrial and marine species, they also supply nutrients to nearby ecosystems such as coral reefs and seagrasses. The Ma Kôté Mangrove within the PSEPA experienced a die-back for which only preliminary assessments have been undertaken and more detailed studies are required to inform remedial interventions to not only restore the forest, but to also improve its resilience.

A second strategy employed under the project involves undertaking studies and implementing measures to reduce causes of degradation of coastal resources. The PSEPA and PINL experience high levels of coastal erosion which is exacerbated by extreme weather events. The remedial measures for addressing coastal erosion within the two areas include the construction of engineered structures, which require coastal stabilisation studies. Such studies have already been undertaken for PINL and several recommendations were made. A similar study is required for the PSEPA to avoid construction of poorly designed structures. The planned rehabilitation of some existing structures are meant to improve their functionality as they serve to complement and amplify the regulating services of natural barriers such as coral reefs, sand dunes and coastal vegetation. In the case of the PSEPA, the major storm drain targeted for rehabilitation serves to regulate and mitigate the seaward bound flood water particularly during intense storm events along the Sandy Beach coastal strip. As was observed in the aftermath of the Christmas Eve trough of 2013, the significant beach erosion, loss of vegetation and collapse of nearby road infrastructure were as a result of widespread flooding and not tidal surge. The storm drains in the vicinity were either clogged or damaged and therefore could not serve to effectively control the deluge from the landward side of the coast.

Another strategy adopted is improving the awareness and understanding of decision makers and civil society about the role of ecosystems in reducing climate risks in an effort to motivate them to take appropriate action towards promoting healthy ecosystems. Effectively protecting ecosystems and reducing climate risks requires inter alia a proper policy and legislative framework, and community and political buy-in, which is often stimulated by improved awareness of the benefits of the resources.

Project Budget

The total project budget is US$1,079,345.00 of which US$893,055.00 is funded by the EbA Facility and US$186,290.00 is co-financed by the Saint Lucia National Trust with support from line Ministries and community groups.

Funding Agencies

A project of the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF), co-financed by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety through KfW.

The project is funded under the Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Facility which was created to support the CBF in achieving its objectives. The EbA was originally established in 2016 with a focus on supporting effective climate change adaptation measures in the marine and coastal zone.

Project Stakeholders

This project provides several national benefits and will require the assistance and input of several stakeholders for effective implementation. Some of the project’s major stakeholders include but is not limited to:

  • Government of Saint Lucia
  • Community groups
  • Resource users
  • Statutory agencies

Implementing Agency

The Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) was established in 1975 by the Saint Lucia National Trust Act (Chapter 6.02 of the Revised Laws of Saint Lucia) to conserve and promote the natural and cultural patrimony of Saint Lucia. As it relates to this initiative, the SLNT’s mandate includes acquisition, promotion and preservation of the natural features of, and to conserve the fauna and flora on places and objects of beauty including parks, landscapes and seascapes that have a historical, scientific, architectural, cultural or natural interest as well as promoting knowledge of and interest in them.

To this end, several sites of natural or historical significance have either been vested in or donated to the SLNT for conserving their natural beauty, ecosystems and endemic species found therein. As such the SLNT has an ongoing management and maintenance programme for these sites and continuously mobilizes resources to achieve its objectives.

Project Goal & Objective

Goal: To enhance the climate resilience of targeted ecosystems within the Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA) and Pigeon Island National Landmark by strengthening the coastlines and improving the management and health of coastal ecosystems.

Objective 1: To assess and improve the adaptive capacity and ecosystem value of the mangrove forest within the PSEPA and the coral reefs within the PSEPA and PINL regions;

Objective 2: To undertake studies and implement measures to reduce causes of degradation of coastal resources; and

Objective 3: To improve decision makers’ and civil society’s understanding of the role of ecosystems in reducing climate risks and to take appropriate action to promote healthy ecosystems.

Project Outputs

  • Mangrove assessment and rehabilitation plan and ecosystem valuation;
  • Coral Reef assessment and ecosystem valuation for PSEPA;
  • Coral Reef assessment and ecosystem valuation undertaken for PINL;
  • Prioritised rehabilitation work in a mangrove forest in PSEPA;
  • Selected enhancement recommendations from the PSEPA coral reef study implemented;
  • Selected enhancement recommendations from the PINL coral reef study implemented;
  • Ecological Management Plans developed and/or modified for targeted ecosystems;
  • Coastal Stabilisation Study and recommendations for the PSEPA undertaken;
  • Grey Infrastructure: Storm drain in PSEPA rehabilitated to reduce negative impacts on coastal resources;
  • Grey Infrastructure: Revetment wall for PINL constructed to reduce coastal erosion and related negative impacts on coastal resources;
  • Rehabilitated sand dunes and restored coastal vegetation in targeted areas within the PSEPA;
  • Stabilised slopes on PINL to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation run-off;
  • Policy briefs and public awareness on the importance of PSEPA and PINL ecosystems;
  • Network of ecosystem beneficiaries established and trained to assist with monitoring and maintaining ecosystems (Coral reefs, mangroves and shoreline);
  • Public awareness and outreach for civil society on the importance of ecosystems in promoting climate resilience.

Project Timeline

The project will be implemented over a three-year period commencing January 2020.

Project Site Maps

Figure 1: Map of Pigeon Island National Landmark (PINL)

Figure 2: Map of Pointe Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA)