COUNTRY REPORT: FORESTRY OUTLOOK STUDY FOR THE CARIBBEAN
CURRENT STATUS OF THE FORESTRY SECTOR
Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, situated at 13 degrees 10' north latitude and 59 degrees 35' west longitude, approximately 150 km east of the Windward islands. It is roughly triangular in shape and measures 24 km long and 23 km wide giving a total land area of 430 square kilometres. The island rises in a series of coral lime terraces from sea level to a maximum height of 340m near the centre at Mount Hillaby. The annual rainfall varies from 1140mm along the coast to 2 160 mm in the central highland area. There is a marked dry season from January to June followed by a wet season from July to December. Salt laden winds blow across the island mainly from a north easterly direction. The mean annual temperature is 26 degrees C.
The Barbados economy has recorded moderate levels of growth over the past 30 years. The macroeconomic policy initiatives have resulted in the increase in the per capita income from US$2 900 in 1980 to US$8 212 in 1997. The projection for the year 2020 is US$12 916.
The economy is now diversified from agriculture to the provision of services and light manufacturing with tourism being the dominant sector. Government has continue to provide support to the private sector through tax incentives coupled with significant expenditure on human resources development and the social economic infrastructure.
The introduction of fiscal measures in 1991 to reverse the declining balance of payment problems resulted in a contraction of 4.3% between 1990-1992. The recovery was quick as growth of 2.6% between 1993-1995 and 4.1% in 1996 was recorded. The main factors contributing to the recovery were the increase level of activity in the services sector and significant investment in tourism.
Unemployment has been showing a downward trend from 24.3% in 1993 to 14.5% at the end of 1997. Inflation remained within the single digit and the external position at a satisfactory level.
The economic growth is expected to remain in the region of 3% over the medium term. Inflation is expected to continue to be relatively low and the employment situation should improve.
Real GDP is expected to grow fuelled by tourism, construction and offshore services.
Sugar production is expected to increase mainly due to favourable growing conditions and higher acreage (8 942 ha) to be harvested.
The targeting of non-traditional markets and growth in cruise activity along with increase hotel rooms (> 6 000) should see improved performance in the tourism sector.
Globalisation will however presents Barbados with challenges to maintain this level of economic growth, employment and a stable exchange rate. The solution lies in improved competitiveness of tourism, the traded sectors, manufacturing and agriculture.
Barbados is an independent nation having gained independence from Britain in November 1966. The political system is modelled after the Westminister system with an Upper and Lower House of Parliament. There are two major political parties and election is constitutionally due every five years. Barbados is known for its political stability over the years.
IMPORTANCE OF TREES
There are no commercial forests in Barbados and hence no trade in wood and wood products. However trees are important in maintaining the fresh water supplies, protecting the landscape from erosion and in providing areas for relaxation and recreation. The establishment and maintenance of tree cover is important in the protection of the shallow soils from erosion and in the replenishment of the underground water aquifers.
Barbados is regarded as a water scarce country and as the demand increases due to tourism development (hotels and golf courses) desalination has become a reality with the present construction of a 18 200 cubic meter (4mgd) brackish water reverse osmosis plant. Waste water reuse is also being contemplated with the implementation of the South and West Coast Sewage projects. These are attempts to build up a reserve capacity as a protection against a reduction in the underground supplies.
Trees are also important in environmental cooling and the beautification of highways and parks. The Ministry of the Environment has embarked on a number of projects to highlight the important benefits of trees and there is a National Arbour Day committee promoting the establishment of trees.
The tourism industry is promoting community based eco-agriculture activities which will present business and employment opportunities for the rural population e.g. providing accommodation, food and entertainment services, renting buses or bikes, selling of craft, and guide services. Already some tour companies are offering heritage tours, ecotours, bikes and bus tours. The establishment and maintenance of trees will be important to the success of this nature base tourism.
Most of the land in Barbados is privately owned. Some 22 250 ha (50%) of the total land area of 43 100 ha is allocated to agricultural activities. Sugar cane production dominates the agriculture land use with some 11 000 ha allocated to this activity.
Some 300 ha is protected and most of this falls within the proposed (6 000 ha) National Park. The total area under forest cover is estimated at 0.4% or 1 700 ha of the island and most of this is found in the north east section of the island commonly known as the Scotland District.
Turners Hall Forest
Turner Hall Woods is the only remaining natural forest in the island covering some 30 ha and said to contain more than 100 plant species. The dominant storey comprises of deciduous species with the evergreen species forming a dense co-dominant canopy. Some of existing species listed are Dipholis salicifolio, Zanthotyklun caribaeum, Coccobin pubescens, Inga laurina, Guapira fragans, Chlorophora tinctoria, Spondins mombin, Bursera simaruba, Itymenaea courbane, Hernandra sonora, Ceriba pentandra and Citharetylum fruticosum.
Joes River Forest
This 40 ha area was donated to Government in 1961 for reforestation and soil conservation and the production of timber. A number of selected hardwoods were either close planted or interplanted during a 20-year period beginning in 1963. The species included mahogany, cedar, cypre, eucalyptus and teak. There is presently a proposal to use this "forest" for a nature based tourism project.
There is a stretch of meso-phytic vegetation which extends some 9km along the escarpment edge known as Hackelton Cliff. This is estimated to cover an area of 250 hectares.
The coastal forest are located at Cluffs, St. Lucy and Bath, St. John on the eastern side and Batts Rock on the western part of the island. Soil tolerant species e.g. Seagrape, Coccolober uvifera , and mandineel Hippomane mancinella dominate these locations and provide safe nesting sites for the hawksbill sea turtle during May to October.
Expansion of tourism development along the coast have resulted in the rapid loss of coastal mangroves estimated now to be only one hectare. The red and white mangrove species, Dhizophora mangle and Laguncualaria racemosa can be fund in the 32 ha Graeme Hall Swamp now renamed the Graeme Hall Bird Sanctuary. Chancery Lane mangrove is 16ha but, unfortunately, it appears that development will soon encroach and reduce the area of this sensitive site. The bottom mangrove Conocarprs erectus is the only species found in this area.
Other forest areas
Most of the remaining wooded areas can be found in the extensive gully network which covers approximately 150km. In the early period these were exploited by the villagers for local medicines, fence, poles etc.
There is limited economic activity relating to the existing forest. The major activity relates to the construction of fishing boats and building of furniture. Local handicraft and some souvenirs for the tourist industry are also produced using vines and wood (mainly mahogany) from the forest.
FURNITURE AND HANDICRAFT
The figures from the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) show total exports of furniture and wood products decreasing by 14.3% from BDS$2.1m in 1997 to BDS$1.8m in 1998. Some 89% (BDS$1.3m) of total exports went to other Caricom countries with the remaining 11% going to France and the USA.
Conversely, total imports increased from BDS$40.7m in 1997 to BDS$49.2m in 1998. The wooden products category experienced the largest increase rising from BDS$15.7 to BDS$19.8m. Most of the imported furniture products goes to the tourism and commercial construction segment of the market.
During 1998 wooden furniture imports from USA reached BDS$8.3m (36.3%) followed by Britain with BDS$4.7m or 20.7%. Regionally Trinidad and Tobago accounts for BDS$3.9m, Guyana BDS$1.3m and Jamaica BDS$1.2m of the imports.
Employment in the furniture sector at the end of 1998 stood at 650 and the estimated output in 1998 was in the region of BDS$5.8m. There are approximately eight medium size enterprises (>25 persons employed) however the majority of the 52 operations are small employing less than five persons.
Figures at the end of 1997 showed some 200 persons being employed in the handicraft industry. The estimated total yearly sales was in the in the region of BDS$7.4m. The major products are souvenir type items like wooden statutes and carvings. However, imports account for BDS$$2.3m on a yearly basis. The limited availability of local raw materials have been cited as one of the main constraints to further expansion.
OTHER FORESTRY PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Recreation and tourism related activities constitute the main non-wood forest activities associated with forestry in Barbados.
In view of diversification of the island tourism product ecotourism related activities are being actively promoted. The Joes River Forest is likely to be used for nature trails and hiking in an attempt to attract some of the 1.1millions visitors to the island 540 000 of whom are being classified as short stay. In 1998, some 70 000 the visited Flower Forest, 150 000 the Harrison Cave and 100 000 the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, which are the well known attractions.
Most of Barbados water supply is found in underground aquifers after rainfall permeates through the porous coral limestone. Trees are needed to trap this rainfall allowing for the constant recharge of these aquifers. The loss of tree barriers along the coast has adversely affected the inland vegetation. Excessive runoff from bare lands promotes soil loss and lead to pollution of the near shore marine environment.
FORESTRY POLICIES LEGISLATION AND INSTITUTIONS
There is still no specific legislation regarding forests in Barbados. A number of Acts are directed towards preservation of trees and do not address management of forests. These Acts include:
1. The Cultivation of Tree Act (1951) which provides tax incentive for the establishment of trees of approved species.
2. The Soil Conservation Act (1958) which provides for the protection and rehabilitation of the vulnerable lands of the Scotland District including the revegetation and reforestation of selected areas.
3. The Town and Country Planning Act which has overall responsibility for development.
4. The Tree Preservation Act, which limits harvesting of trees 1 metre in girth.
The issues relating to sustainable forest management will be addressed when the proposals of the Environmental and Natural Resources Management Plan are implemented. It is anticipated that all-important environmental-management function would be administered by one Ministry. The National Park Plan and the Coastal Zone Management Plans would relate to Forestry since these are site specific and relate to the Scotland District and coastal areas. The Forests would be designated natural heritage conservation areas and would be managed in a sustainable manner to enhance environmental quality and the visual integrity of the landscape. The Town and Country Planning Office (TCPO) through the Physical Development Plan will protect these areas by excluding incompatible development.
Almost all of the emerging and remaining forested areas are located within the proposed National Park. The general policy guidelines of lands designated as forests can be found within the revised National Physical Development Plan (1998). The following policies will be instituted:
"uses permitted on these sites will relate to conservation, forestry and fruit",
"Government will develop outreach educational programmes to promote environmentally sensitive and sustainable practices in these areas and to ensure that the quality of existing forest stands is not compromised",
"permits will be required to undertake tree cutting and vegetation clearing on existing forested sites",
"the three highest rated sites will be designated as National Forest and will be protected from incompatible development. A multi-year management plan will be prepared for enhancing the habitats and scenic quality of the forests".
THE OUTLOOK FOR THE FORESTRY SECTOR
There is an increasing pressure on the agriculture land resources from other sectors mainly tourism and housing. The decline in agriculture contribution to the economy is making it increasingly difficult for this sector to retain its land. Sustainable development, however, demands that a very close link be maintained between these two important sectors.
It is, however, likely that there will be a marginal increase in the acreage of trees especially in the Scotland District where most of the lands are unsuitable for commercial agriculture or housing.
Some of the larger privately owned plantations in the Scotland District indicated their intention of planting a mixture of hardwood and fruit trees on their lands as they develop them as ecotourism sites.
The steep lands vested in the Crown will be reafforested since it is recognised that there is a relationship of land degradation with human resources development, tourism and other key areas of economy.
The Physical Development Plan (PDP) 1998 has already identified a number of mature forested areas with diverse vegetation, ages and habitants, e.g. existing forest, successional forest, emerging forest and forest linkages. The following policies will be applied to these areas:
the permitted uses would include conservation, passive recreation, agroforestry nursery, cattle grazing will be discouraged;
new permanent structures or dwellings will not be allowed due to slope instability;
private agreements will be developed with private landowners to encourage management of these forests with the view of incorporating them into the National Forest System;
no development will occur within 5 metres from stable top or the bank of gullies and escarpments. Further set backs in areas experiencing severe erosion or in areas with existing landscape or vegetation features that would benefit. All of these set backs will be mandatory;
a Biodiversity action plan is proposed but species and habitat information including a plant and animal inventory is required before it can be implemented;
non-governmental organizations (such as National Trust, Lions Clubs) will be encouraged in partnership with government to sustain and enhance activities such as tree planting and Adopt-a-programme such as beaches, gullies and woods.
Institutional strengthening is required as Barbados only has one trained forester who is currently completing further training in the UK. A second person is being sent to Cyprus for training in "Forestry Management". It is anticipated that these persons would form the nucleus of a forestry unit operating from the Soil Conservation Unit. Constant participation at international conferences, seminars and workshops such as this will provide opportunities for networking with other professionals.
Report of National Workshop on Land Degradation, Desertification and Drought, 31-5 to 1-6 1999.
Revised Environmental Legislation for Barbados - Ministry of Health & Environment, December 1998.
Environmental and Natural Resources Management Plan - December 1998.
Barbados Coastal Conservation Programme, Phase 1, January 1997.
Draft National Physical Development Plan, 1998.
Area Development Plan - Review of Existing Agriculture Policy Unit.
State of Forestry in the Region, 1998 - Latin American and Forestry Commission.
Forest and Forestry in Barbados, Farnum, R., 1998.