Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Management of Haiti's coastal regions

Haitian authorities, cooperating with the UNESCO 'CITIES' project and using the Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) platform, have initiated a programme to help evaluate, rehabilitate and properly manage the country's coastal environment and resources. Amongst other factors, due consideration will be given to the land/sea interface and interactions, especially as they affect the coastal cities and villages. The creation of a series of country-wide coastal zone data atlases is foreseen. Ground-truth information will be collected to help: (i) interpret remote-sensing data for habitat classifications and to determine levels of resource exploitation and (iii) enhance our understanding of the socio-economic framework within which these resources are exploited. The project's end goal is the development of sustainable coastal management practices.

Several consultancy missions to the country were carried out in 1996. These missions studied a number of marine, mangrove and terrestrial sites. Coastal water quality was also directly assessed. A survey of sedimentation and erosion processes in the watersheds and along the coast has been initiated. As well, a seminar on the 'Study, Management and Preservation of the Coastal Regions of Haiti' was held in December 1996 in Port-au-Prince. The seminar considered the following prerequisites for the acquisition of adequate management planning tools and practices: (i) information about institutional coordinating mechanisms, (ii) basic environmental requirements for rational use of forests as well as of agricultural and fishery resources, and (iii) the impact of human-induced ecosystem deterioration.

Various specific objectives were defined for Haiti's coastal regions, such as to: (1) inventory and classify land and marine habitats; (2) improve the understanding of functional relationships among land and marine ecosystems, particularly their interactions in the coastal regions with a focus on specific pilot study areas, which include coastal cities and villages (Luly and other). This involves cooperation with UNESCO-sponsored regional networks, such as those dealing with coastal marine productivity (CARICOMP) and with coast and beach stability (COSALC); (3) develop the research, monitoring and management components for sustainable socio-economic and environmental resources development; and (4) create the legal and administrative conditions and mechanisms for the rational use, management and preservation of coastal regions and resources.

The ultimate goal for Haiti in this project is to provide ways and means for the rational exploitation and preservation of its coastal resources in accordance with the current concepts of sustainable development.

About the country:

Haiti has 1,535 kms of coastline, and a continental shelf which totals around 5,000 km2. The continental shelf in general is narrow, with some noticeable exceptions. The island's coastal plains, where the bulk of agricultural activity normally occurs, are bordered on one side by mountain slopes which are denuded of trees by the production of charcoal (the country's main source of domestic energy). The coastal plains have been converted to intensive agriculture, and traditional fisheries overexploit the shallow-water marine resources. As well, the uncontrolled exploitation of land resources results in excessive erosion and sedimentation in the watershed areas as well as along the coastline, where such practices in turn affect the development of coastal resources. The pressures of industrial development and increasing tourism are likely to increase in the near future.

For more information, contact:

UNESCO Port-of-Prince Office
19, Delmas 60,
Musseau par Bourdon
Petion Ville, Haiti
Tel. 579429/578040/578233
Fax 578158
e-mail: unescohai@can.com

and/or

UNESCO-CSI, fax +33 1 4568 58 08 e-mail: csi@unesco.org

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