Sustainable Land Management

The Government of Barbados through the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage has completed the Capacity Building and Mainstreaming of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) project.  Funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and the Government of Barbados, the project was designed to promote the improvement of management practices, institutional arrangements, policies and incentives aimed at the attenuation of land degradation on fragile and unique ecosystems of small islands in the Caribbean.


The overall goal of the project under the UNDP/Global Environment Facility (GEF) Targeted Portfolio Approach is to develop capacities and mainstream for effective mitigation of land degradation through sustainable land management. The MSP project identifies the root causes of land degradation in Barbados to be divided between the Scotland District and the limestone areas.

The intent of this project is to build capacity for sustainable land management in Barbados, with potential benefit at both national and global levels. At the national level, the specific objectives are as followed:

  1.  To reverse land degradation trends through enhanced capacity for sustainable land management within relevant government agencies, the private sector, non-governmental and civil society organizations; and
  2. To institutionalize sustainable land management practices within national development planning processes, programmes and strategies.

The project, originally designed for execution over a three (3) year period, is now scheduled for completion in June 2012.  The implementing agency will be the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.  The Policy, Planning, Research and Information Unit (PPRI) of the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage, as the focal point for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNCCD), will be the lead agency at the national level, and thus function as the Executing Agency.

Geographical Information Systems

A geographic information system is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of spatially referenced infromation. In the simplest terms, GIS is the merging of cartography, statistical analysis, and database technology.

A GIS can be thought of as a system—it digitally creates and “manipulates” spatial areas that may be jurisdictional, purpose, or application-oriented. Generally, a GIS is custom-designed for an organization. Hence, a GIS developed for an application, jurisdiction, enterprise, or purpose may not be necessarily interoperable or compatible with a GIS that has been developed for some other application, jurisdiction, enterprise, or purpose. What goes beyond a GIS is a spatial data infrastructure (SDI), a concept that has no such restrictive boundaries.

In a general sense, the term describes any information system that integrates, stores, edits, analyzes, shares, and displays geographic information for informing decision making. The term GIS-Centric, however, has been specifically defined as the use of the Esri ArcGIS geodatabase as the asset/feature data repository central to computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) as a part of enterprise asset management and analytical software systems. GIS-centric certification criteria has been specifically defined by the National Association of GIS-Centric Solutions (NAGCS). GIS applications are tools that allow users to create interactive queries (user-created searches), analyze spatial information, edit data in maps, and present the results of all these operations. Geographic information science is the science underlying geographic concepts, applications, and systems.

Institutional Strengthening

The Sustainable Land Management Project, under the Ministry of Environment and Drainage and with the cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture has embarked on an institutional review of the Soil Conservation Unit, with its focus on strengthening that unit so that it can better do its part in the mitigation of land degradation.

The Soil Conservation Unit is located in the Scotland District, a unique geographical area that makes up 1/7 of the total land mass of the island (roughly 60 km2).  It covers the entire parish of St. Andrew, the greater part of St. Joseph, parts of St. John, St. Thomas and St. Peter.  The inland boundary is defined by Hackleton’s Cliff, a coral escarpment that forms an arc of about 24 km (15) miles long from Pico Teneriffe (St. Peter) in the north down to Conset Bay (St. John) in the south. The District is bounded by the sea to the east.  This area possesses a unique topography and geological composition, which makes it prone to a number of unique land degradation problems such as higher frequencies of land slippage, increased land to sea conversion as well as many others.  For over a fifty years, it has been the work of the Soil Conservation Unit to deal with these issues of land degradation and develop sustainable methods of reducing them, and their effects on those living in the area.

Through the project, an Institutional Review was initiated to better equip this unit to carry out their work.  The review will focus on the legislative policies that empower and limit the scope of the Soil Conservation Unit, the personnel available to the unit and the technology at its disposal with a goal of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the unit.