Pointe Sable Environmental Protected Area (PSEPA) and Ma Kȏtè Mangrove in focus

Bringing people together to find solutions

The the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) recently convened a series of consultations to facilitate discussion of deliverables under an Ecosystem based Adaptation (EbA) project “Increasing the climate change resilience and public awareness of the Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA) and Pigeon Island National Landmark ecosystems”. The consultations provided fora for the presentation of reports under the Coastal Stabilisation Study for PSEPA, and the Ma Kȏtè Mangrove Rehabilitation plan.

The first event was a conducted online with the consultants contracted to undertake the PSEPA Coastal Stabilisation Study, CBCL Limited, presenting their initial recommendations from their base in Canada, to the first group of local stakeholders. This stakeholder group included the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority, Department of Physical Planning and the Development Control Authority, the Department of Infrastructure and Ports Services, Invest Saint Lucia, The Vieux Fort South Constituency Council. The CBCL report highlighted the many vulnerabilities and threats to the PSEPA coastal zone and presented ideas for addressing them. An area which came up for intense dialogue was the expanse of beachfront from the Sandy Beach area, along the Coconut Bay Resort beach-front to Bois Chadon. Of specific interest to participants were the recommendations for addressing the extensive coastal erosion in these areas, which included the construction of break waters, revetments, and sand dune restoration.

a map of the pointe sable environmental protection area with key to features Key to PSEPA Map

A few days later, over 30 stakeholders convened in an onsite and online mix, to discuss the Ma Kȏtè Mangrove Rehabilitation plan. Onsite participants gathered at the Southern Branch of the National Skills Development Centre in La Tourney, Vieux Fort. This consultation was the second convened to discuss the severe case of mangrove die-back which has been impacting the Ma Kôté mangrove since 2010. Located on the south-east coast of Saint Lucia, Ma Kȏtè is the largest basin mangrove in the OECS. It was designated as a marine reserve under the Fisheries Act in 1986 and declared as a wetland of significant value and international importance under the RAMSAR Convention in 2002. The SLNT contracted the services of the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA), an environmental consulting firm from Trinidad and Tobago in 2021 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the Ma Kôté Mangrove to ascertain the cause of the dieback and develop a mangrove rehabilitation plan.

Stakeholders at this session -including the Forestry Division, Invest Saint Lucia, the Department of Fisheries, the Department of Infrastructure, the Water Resources Management Agency- were presented with data and images detailing the sub-optimal functioning of the mangrove’s hydrological system that led to inadequate supplies of fresh water, high salinity levels and the subsequent dieback. Recommendations for mangrove rehabilitation presented by the consultants were discussed at length, and remedial courses of action for improving hydrology and overall mangrove health were discussed. Participants were informed of the urgent need for desilting water channels and of excavating and repair of culverts to restore drainage flows.

Stakeholders sit listening to presentation on EBA project work for PSEPA and Ma Kote mangrove

A second online consultation on the PSEPA Coastal Stabilisation plan was then held with another group of local stakeholders including the Department of Sustainable Development, the Forestry Division, the Fisheries Department, and the Saint Lucia Meteorological Services.

The sessions concluded with a call to agencies with responsibility for management and conservation of these vital ecosystems and areas of natural, social and economic significance, to join in the urgent effort to implement the recommendations form the reports presented. For Ma Kȏtè Mangrove in particular, restoration of life to areas within the mangrove that have been hard hit by poor hydrological conditions is paramount. Representatives of livelihood groups operating within and on the fringes of the mangrove also stated their commitment to joining in this urgent effort to rehabilitate Ma Kȏtè.

 

Prompt action is required to preserve life, livelihoods, environment and infrastructure. For its part, the Saint Lucia National Trust renewed its commitment to working with all stakeholders to return Ma Kȏtè to health and resilience and to engaging with the government of Saint Lucia on the critical importance of implementing the recommendations of the PSEPA Coastal Stabilisation report.

For further information on this subject please contact the Conservation Manager at the southern office of the SLNT via telephone at +(758)454-5014 or email at conservationmgr@slunatrust.org.