Background

In 2003, the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines were losing forests at an estimated rate of 3% per annum. This was due to both legal and illegal cultivation of seasonal crops in the interior of the forested areas and land use changes, particularly the increasing demands for housing and coastal development, that were destroying coastal forests (dry woodlands and mangroves). Mitigation was constrained by the ineffectiveness of the conventional approaches to enforcement against illegal crop cultivation, squatting and deforestation and the absence of effective land use policies in relation to land use.

In response to these threats, the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines through its Forestry Department implemented “The Integrated Forest Management and Development Programme (IFMDP)” in May 2003. The IFMDP was not only seen as a plausible response to the threats of deforestation but was also seen as a mechanism to achieving the mission of the Forestry Department and as a means to addressing threats to rural livelihoods, sustainable use of forest resources, securing the surface water supply and contributing to the diversification of the economy. The identified goal of the project was to ensure effective forest management systems are put in place, by taking into account all other stakeholders, obtain greater cooperation and commitment to forest management and conservation.

To address the needs identified and given the familiarity of CANARI with the stakeholders, CANARI was contracted to coordinate a participatory evaluation of the IFMDP and contributed to building the capacity of the stakeholders in participatory planning processes and conflict management to enable the development of sustainable forest-based livelihoods in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Objectives

  • To facilitate a three-day interactive workshop for 25 stake holders involved in forest use and management in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in September 2010:
    • To build the capacity of stakeholders to effectively communicate their ideas and needs and engage in multi-stakeholder dialogues;
    • To build the capacity of stakeholders in participatory planning and management and conflict management;
    • To conduct a participatory evaluation of the IFMDP; and
    • To identify key strategies for supporting sustainable forest-based livelihoods in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • To conduct field interviews to contribute to the participatory evaluation of the Integrated Forest Management Project and the identification of key strategies for supporting sustainable forest-based livelihoods in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Outputs

Project lessons learned

The main lessons emerging from the evaluation include:

  • In preparation for engaging in livelihood projects, all stakeholders should be oriented to key concepts to contribute to a common understanding of roles and responsibilities.
  • Benefits to livelihoods from stakeholders participating in participatory management arrangements must be clearly identified and communicated so that all stakeholders involved see benefits.
  • Attention should be paid to clearly defining the expected livelihood benefits from the start of an initiative and managing the expectations of all stakeholders on what it is a realistic expectation.
  • Desired benefits should be identified at the start of an initiative to mitigate against disillusionment and conflict among stakeholders.
  • Once the desired benefits have been agreed, measurable targets and indicators should be set in order to better track the impacts of the participatory forest managementarrangement. Defining indicators to track results at the levels of outputs, outcomes and impacts is important. These can be a combination of qualitative and quantitative indicators that are internally or externally defined. Achieving a balance between these will help to ensure relevance to the local communities while facilitating comparison across case studies.
  • To contribute to maintaining interest in participatory forest management arrangements tangible benefits need to be realised or accomplished early in the relationship.
  • Capacity building should be a sustained process and should address emerging capacity needs.
  • Projects addressing sustainable forest-based livelihoods should try to leverage on projects with objectives of poverty alleviation and social development as livelihood development is a multidisciplinary task.

The project also highlighted the value of doing a participatory evaluation to highlight lessons learned and recommendations for improving the process. The IFMDP recognised the value of doing this to contribute to building the capacity of the stakeholders in participatory planning processes and conflict management to enable the development of sustainable forest-based livelihoods in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.