Country Profiles

Dominica - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Dominica is very mountainous and of volcanic origin, measuring 47 kilometres long and 22 kilometres wide, at its widest point. Of an estimated total landmass of 197,500 ha, 94,800 ha have been classified as unutilized, and 17,800 ha as suitable for agriculture. According to the 1995 Agriculture Census, 23,473 ha were under farms, of which 61% (13,031 ha) were cultivated, and 28.1 % (5,980 ha) in forest. Sixty-five percent of the island area is covered by natural vegetation, ranging from dry scrub woodland on the west coast to fumarole vegetation associated with volcanic activity, to lush tropical rainforest in the interior and a wide variety of fauna and flora. Despite its small size, Dominica possesses an extensive range of terrestrial and marine biodiversity. Some 155 families, 672 genera and 1,226 species of vascular plants have been identified on the island, with a number of plant species considered endemic, including Sabinea carinalis (Bwa Kwaib), the national flower. Dominica is also known for its unique diversity of avifauna, which is possibly the highest among countries in the eastern Caribbean. It comprises in excess of 175 bird species, most of which are migratory, however 60 are known to breed in Dominica, including the endemic parrot species Amazona imperialis and Amazona arausiaca that, according to the IUCN Red List, are considered endangered and threatened, respectively. In the marine environment, the status of the White Sea Urchin has declined and corals remain severely threatened, however the status of marine turtles, sea grasses and coastal pelagic resources has improved.

Agriculture, which is heavily dependent on ecosystem services and the integrity of faunal and floral species, contributes significantly to the country’s economic growth and constitutes a major sustaining element for rural livelihoods. For instance, export production of the main export crop (banana) reached almost 7,000 tonnes for the first half of 2007 (January to August), totalling EC$ 9.6 million. The government thus plans on modernizing this sector so as for it to become globally competitive and ensure food security and employment.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main threats to Dominican biodiversity include deforestation (despite a recent decline in the rate of forest loss), overexploitation of wildlife, encroachment, land degradation (to which Dominica is particularly sensitive due to its very youthful and fragile forest landscape), unregulated development, introduction of foreign species, loss of agrobiodiversity, impacts from climate change, uncontrolled use of biotechnologies, pollution, increasing natural disasters (notably hurricanes and seismic activity), land mining, gradual loss of traditional knowledge, introduction of alien species and inappropriate legal and institutional frameworks.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Dominica recognizes the need to review the National Biological Strategy and Action Plan (2001-2005) however plans to do so have not been concretized due to a shortage of resources (human, technical, financial), also imposing constraints on the development of national targets.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Dominica’s protected areas network can be cited as a major achievement, with 25% of the country’s forest land legally protected, either under forest reserves or national parks. All three of the country’s national parks have management plans and continuous monitoring activities. The Morne Trois Pitons National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of sites that have been come under the guise of a protected area though not legislated as such (e.g. sections of a river, waterfall, old plantation, historic site). The Government has begun the process of establishing biosphere reserves in tandem with UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere program. In the marine environment, the Soufriere-Scottshead Marine Reserve was designated a marine reserve in 1998. This world class scuba diving destination and highly favoured traditional fishing area is protected to avoid user conflicts between the traditional fishermen and the new water sports sector through a community-based approach.

In addition to protected areas policy, Dominica has done commendable work in public awareness-raising. Numerous activities have been organized to educate people in biodiversity issues, such as training for personnel from various public service sectors and the participation of the civil society in locally hosted workshops and selected overseas training. Radio programs, school visits, observances of international environmental events, essay writing competitions, poster competitions, publication of annual calendars, brochures and booklets are other activities that have been implemented.

Other significant achievements include efforts regarding access and benefit-sharing; increase in privately owned ecotourism sites; construction of sea defense structures to help reduce the impact of storms while accommodating biological processes (such as the yearly and seasonal migration of crabs to the shoreline for reproduction); efforts to develop alternative energy sources (notably geothermal); regulation of scuba diving activities and other uses for coral reefs; deep commitment by government to the rights of indigenous people; Forestry Division promoting measures to curtail intrusion into forest reserves and vigilance and enforcement of laws governing the harvest of terrestrial wildlife. As a result of these policies, some positive trends have already been reported, such as a decline in deforestation, over-exploitation of wildlife, forest encroachment and loss of traditional knowledge.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Several actions have been undertaken in Dominica to address capacity-building (notably through training), establishment of databases (in the framework of the Sustainable Land Management Project), procurement of tools and materials and community participation. At the administrative level, the lead agency for environmental matters is the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Physical Planning and Fisheries. However, the management of Dominica’s natural resources is shared with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Housing, Settlements, and Water Resource Management. In addition, the Environmental Coordinating Unit functions as the coordinating, facilitating and administrative body for all environmental and sustainable development management programmes, projects and activities in the country. In so doing, it liaises with other government and private-sector agencies on issues related to the environment, advises the government on the development of coherent environmental policies and promotes public participation in environmental management through its public awareness activities.

Mainstreaming initiatives include, among others, the USAID Caribbean Open Trade Strategy (COTS) project, which seeks to support the effective management of natural resources and the integration of disaster risk reduction and mitigation into economic planning and implementation. The Forestry Division is undertaking activities on the protection of avian species, and the Division of Agriculture on controlling the introduction of alien species. In addition, EIA is a prerequisite for all forms of physical development initiatives which, in consequence, has increased collaboration between different agencies in several domains. For instance, the Forestry and Wildlife Division, Fisheries Division and the Department of Tourism are working together to ensure biodiversity protection in light of the promotion of and surge in tourism; the Divisions of Forestry and Fisheries have collaborated to enforce closed seasons for some terrestrial and aquatic species of flora and fauna; the Fisheries Division is working with the International Oceanographic Commission to develop the Caribbean Marine Atlas and database. In terms of financial support, funding is received from the LDC-SIDS, European Union, USAID, FAO, GEF and the Zoological Society of London.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Constant monitoring activities are executed in protected areas (both marine and terrestrial), as well as in the framework of several programs to assess the efficiency of measures that the Government has put in place to counter threats, notably in relation to land mining. Finally, tools, such as the Coastal Area Vulnerability Assessment, providing mapping of most vulnerable areas, will be used to review the NBSAP.