The use of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), more commonly known as Drone technology, is now becoming more accepted as a tool to enhance monitoring and management of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) Programme recognises that this technology is vital to the management of marine protected areas of watersheds, and has therefore embarked on a regional capacity building technical support initiative in its partner island territories of Saint Lucia, Grenada and Dominica. The Marine Protected Area (MPA) volunteers and staff of the Fisheries and Forestry Divisions of Grenada, and various stakeholders in Carriacou (Kipaji Development Initiative, Sandy Island Oyster Bed Marine Protected Area, technical officers of the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs and the National Disaster Management Agency also benefitted from this 5-day capacity building initiative, designed to enhance monitoring and management within Marine Protected Areas and watersheds.
The 5-day initiative featured training in maneuvering of the UAS, safety and operational procedures as well as intensive exposure to aerial mapping techniques, processing, modelling and spatial analysis. The training is facilitated by Dr. Kimberly Baldwin of Marine Spatial Information Solutions (MARSIS), based in Barbados. She also is a Research Associate at the Centre for Resource Management & Environmental Studies (CERMES) of the UWI Cave Hill Campus. Dr. Baldwin was supported by Mr. Christopher Baldwin of Baldwin Photography. A certified drone pilot, Dr. Baldwin has trained several technical officers within the Caribbean region in the UAS operation and data processing and analysis for environmental management and monitoring and has and continues to develop tools and research documents on applications of UAS technology; Mr. Baldwin’s expertise is in the dynamic and creative use of UAS technology for capture of promotional photographic imagery in Asia and Australia, inter alia. By the end of the 5-day training, participants are expected to have a greater appreciation of the operation of UAS, regulation and safety procedures guiding the operation, maintenance of the equipment, design and execution of mapping missions, processing and developing of reports of data collected from the mapping exercises, as well as the various applications of drone technology for environmental management and monitoring.
The CATS Programme anticipates that this training will facilitate the effective and efficient management of the Marine Protected Areas in Grenada, particularly the Molinere-Beausejour Marine Protected Area, which is the focus area of the CATS Programme. Notwithstanding, the training is expected to also benefit the Grande Anse and Gouyave MPAs and watersheds, forests and forests reserves within and beyond these watersheds. It is expected that both trainings produce the first cadre of trained personnel in the handling of Unmanned Aerial Systems for ecosystem monitoring and environmental research. The Programme will continue to work with the trainees post this this training, to support the development of outreach, monitoring and management documents and other products to improve and increase management and awareness of the natural resources and facilitate informed decision making within the State and Region. The Programme expresses gratitude to the Office of the Police Commissioner and all other agencies who have facilitated this most vital intervention.
About the CATS Programme The Caribbean Aqua Terrestrial Solutions Programme is a joint initiative between the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The Programme is implemented jointly by the Environmental Health and Sustainable Development (EHS) Department of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the German International Development Agency (GIZ). The CATS Programme aims to improve climate resilience of key marine and terrestrial areas sectors, namely farming, fishing, forestry, agro-processing and value chains and the protection of biodiversity and natural resources in the Caribbean by improving climate resilience of the Caribbean Islands and the Coastal States through systemic resource management on the land and at sea. This is executed through a Ridge-to-Reef (R2R) approach that uses key elements of the Ecosystems Approach for managing interventions within Marine Managed Areas (MMAs) and their hinterlands and contributes to poverty reduction, sustainable livelihoods and capacity building within local communities. The CATS Programme also focusses on strengthening the operational capacity of institutions which govern and manage MMAs and adjacent watersheds. The Programme, now in its second Phase, is executed in eight (8) CARICOM countries and continues the promoting and facilitating regional inter-linkages, building resilience, advancing sustainability and stimulating regional knowledge transfer and technical cooperation among the participating States.