Drone Training for Environmental Management Officers through the CATS Programme

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The Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) Programme Phase II (Building Climate Resilience from the Ridge to the Reef), during the period of November 19th – 30th 2018, as part of a regional capacity building initiative, trained 18 ecosystems management officers in the operation and application of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS, "drone") technology, for environmental monitoring and management. The training also featured the participation of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA), who presented to the trainees the perspective of SLASPA with regard to the importance of and responsible use of the airspace. Among the NGO, statutory and Governmental support agencies benefitting from this training were the Departments of Agriculture and Forestry, Water Resources Management Agency, Soufriere Marine Management Association, Pitons Management Area Office, Soufriere Regional Development Foundation and CaribbeanSEA.

The training was 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. As 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 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. Certified trainees now possess 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 Soufriere watershed (the focus area of the Programme in Saint Lucia), Pitons Management Area World Heritage Site and the Soufriere Marine Protected Area.

The CATS Programme will continue to work with the trainees and support the development of outreach, monitoring and management documents and other products to improve the awareness and management of the natural resources within the State as well as facilitate informed decision making within the State and wider region. The Programme further extends gratitude to the SLASPA and other agencies who facilitated the execution of this most vital capacity building initiative. This regional training initiative has extended to the State of Grenada, where trainings are currently being conducted with marine and terrestrial officers in mainland Grenada between December 3rd and 7th, 2018 and also Carriacou between December 10th and 14th 2018.

About the CATS Programme The CATS Programme applies an integrated Ridge-to-Reef Approach (R2R), to address the increasing vulnerability of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Low-Lying Coastal States (LLCS) to climate change and the attendant negative impacts on coastal communities and economies; ecosystems and biodiversity (terrestrial and coastal/marine), and natural resources management. The target beneficiaries of the Programme are local practitioners (particularly fishermen, farmers, foresters, agro-processors and other persons along the value chains of these primary producers) in the focus watersheds and Marine Managed Areas in the Member States. The political host of the Programme is the CARICOM Secretariat through the Environmental Health and Sustainable Development (EHS) Department of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). The Programme is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German International Development Agency (GIZ).

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