The future of Forests in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines continues to be an area of interest to Vincentians. The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, through its expressed policies, supports the protection, conservation and development of the dwindling, but valuable resource. Consequently, the Forestry Department, other environmental interest groups and the general populace of the country are today becoming increasingly engaged in forest conservation through partnerships. This relationship is developing around the premise that the development and implementation of good forest management practices rest in shared forest management.
The Forestry Department is responsible for the management of the country’s forest resources, which include several forest and wildlife reserves. It works in collaboration with several Government and non-governmental agencies locally, regionally and internationally and is currently involved in programmes that are designed for the effective delivery of protection, conservation and development principles geared towards the sustainable management of the nation’s forests. The Department falls within the framework of two main pieces of legislation, namely:
- The Forest Resource Conservation Act, No: 47 of 1992
- The Wildlife Protection Act, No: 16 of 1987
The Forest Resource Conservation Act requires the development of a ten (10) year Forest Resource Conservation Strategic Plan. This plan acts as a guide for the implementation of the Department’s Annual Work Programmes.
The issues surrounding forest management are diverse and complex as they involve a matrix of users of these scarce resources. Some issues can be considered as emerging issues as they relate mainly to global opinions and their impact on our ability to manage our forest resources in the light of a rapidly changing global environment. Such issues have conditioned a change in the Forestry Department’s responsibilities and expectations.
The unco-ordinated use of the forest and its resources by stakeholders is the most critical issue. The adoption of participatory management among stakeholders of our forest resources is now promoted as a prerequisite to effective management, and forms a major part of the Department’s strategy.
Consequently, a seven-year Integrated Forestry Management and Development Project is currently being developed. This project will address the critical needs of all users of our dwindling forest resources while developing programmes for sustainable co-management of these resources. The programmes developed under the project will form the basis for all Forestry sector programmes and activities for that period and after.