about the project

GEF Leveraging Eco-Tourism for Biodiversity Protection in Dominica

The Project Development Objective is to improve management of Dominica’s three national parks and the Waitukubuli trail.



Project ID


Project Name

GEF Leveraging EcoTourism for Biodiversity Protection in Dominica

GEF Focal Area


About Dominica


The Commonwealth of Dominica is a small upper-middle-income country in the Caribbean Sea, with a population of 73,543, predominantly dependent on tourism and agriculture. With annual gross domestic product (GDP) of US$581.48 million, Dominica’s economy depends predominantly on tourism and agriculture. Tourism, is largely dependent on protected areas, generating nearly 15 percent of GDP, providing not only direct revenues but also fueling growth in other industries. Poverty remains a pervasive development issue, with a poverty headcount of 28.8 percent at the time of the last Country Poverty Assessment (CPA) conducted in 2009.

The island geography and complex geology have created unique habitats and high species diversity, such as the conservation flagship species the Imperial amazon (Amazona imperialis - EN) of Dominica a parrot known to occur only there1. 

Dominica is part of the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot, which is defined as holding at least 1,500 plant species found nowhere else and having lost at least 70% of their original habitat extent (Mittermeier et al. 2004). The Caribbean islands have among the highest number of globally threatened species of any hotspot in the world, supporting populations of endemic plants and vertebrates amounting to at least 2% of world’s total species complement with high species endemism. 

Key biodiversity habitats are part of Dominica’s forest system, one of the richest and most extensive ones in the Lesser Antilles. The ‘Nature Island’ has the most extensive natural forests in the Eastern Caribbean of around 43, 000 ha and is home to the most diverse assemblage of wildlife among the smaller Caribbean islands. The vegetation types (flora) include littoral woodland, elfin woodland, semi-deciduous forest, mature rain forest, montane forest, scrub woodland and savannah.

Other natural vegetation types are influenced by soil conditions including wetlands and fumarole vegetation. Dominica’s fauna includes: 179 species of birds, 55 species of butterflies, 20 species of crabs, 11 species of crayfish and shrimp, 3 species of amphibians, 17 species of reptiles (4 snakes), 18 mammal species, 11 stick insect species, and around 45 species of inland fish.3 Dominica is also the home of the only surviving community of indigenous Carib peoples.

The Kalinago community amounts to around 3000 people living primarily in a specially designated Kalinago Territory and are recognized as being especially disadvantaged, considered among the poorest districts in Dominica with highest unemployment rate and income lower than the national average.

The Waitukubuli National Trail (WNT) and Dominica’s three national parks are a cornerstone for Dominica’s eco-tourism potential

The WNT is the first Caribbean long-distance hiking trail and needs stronger management to attract more visitors interested in eco-tourism.

Biodiversity in Dominica is intimately linked to its forests.

Approximately 60 percent of Dominica’s surface area is covered with forests that provide important ecosystem services. Half of the total forest surface area is covered by mature rain forest.

Biodiversity, however, is threatened by habitat loss due to mismanagement of agriculture and forestry, compounded by a weak protected areas management, and mismanagement of land resources outside of protected areas.

These threats result in adverse impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, on the rural population dependent on them, and the broader regional and national economies. The region’s biodiversity is at serious risk of species extinctions, even though destruction occurs in relatively small patches of habitat.
The usable forest estate is estimated between 6,000 hectares (cumulative surface of the forest reserves) and 11,000 hectares (forest reserves plus unallocated government land covered with forest). Forests, and especially forests within the National Parks, are vital for the protection of domestic water supplies, support to agriculture (e.g. by stabilizing soils and regulating water flow as well as providing shade and shelter and providing a habitat for pollinators and natural predators of agricultural pests), and are close to the region’s only remaining indigenous community (the Kalinago community).
Forest management planning and monitoring has been weak. It is estimated that Hurricane Maria impacted and uprooted 10-30 percent of trees, further threatening long-term sustainable management of this vital natural resource. The legislative framework4 regulating the forest sector is outdated and clearer provisions for forest management are required. Timber production is negligible (based on limited, available data) and not a recognized as an economic priority; wood industry, other than artisanal handicrafts and some furniture and joinery, is non-existent.

Protected Area networks help to reduce biodiversity loss and provide significant contributions to conservation efforts

While the surface area of designated protected areas (PAs) has steadily increased, the rate of biodiversity loss continues to rise, mainly due to ineffective management of PAs to deliver biodiversity outcomes.