by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
Land use policies are often complex and require coordination across all levels of government as well as across sectors of the economy. However, this process has become necessary as governments throughout the OECS are responding to the added pressure of sourcing crown lands, which are now in high demand by the public.
In Grenada, the government has commenced the process of engaging various sectors as it drafts a National Land Use Policy and Legislation which is expected to address this pressing issue.
Grenada and 4 countries including St Vincent, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands are receiving financial assistance from the European Union in collaboration with the OECS to the tune of US$10.6 million to undertake this project.
Lead Consultant George De Romilly highlighted the lack of proper land information systems as one of the major stumbling blocks that impede on proper use land reforms. He stated that part of the project will include the formation of a comprehensive geospatial land information system that can be easily accessed through an online application. This, he said will help solve the issue of the lack of entitlement to lands inherited on the local level, as well as to assist in sourcing available crown lands for foreign property developers.
“The situation in many countries is that if you are a landowner or a homeowner, investor, bank or insurance company and you want to make an inquiry about a piece of land, you want to buy or you want to sell, you want to get a loan on it, you can click on a parcel of land by an app and it tells you who owns the land; it tells you the boundaries, if there is a mortgage on the land, if it’s in a hazard area, flood-prone area. This helps manage the land transaction because now for the people who don’t have the land title, this now starts the process.”
Another issue that impedes proper land use reforms is the lack of coordination between various government agencies which he suggests can be solved through the formation of a natural resource management agency.
De Romilly also suggested establishing a community-based approach and involvement in managing land resources in order to expedite any land use reforms, especially in protecting areas of mangroves and natural waterways bordering on private property.
“Some of the best practices we hope to import into Grenada is having a community approach to managing, whether it be the watershed, the river, the beach, the mangrove, the coral reef If you have a community management plan whereby the community [is] the one to enforce it, if there any penalties [or] fines, it goes back to them to pay for the management cost. There a vested ownership and interests to ensure that it is maintained.”
Acting Chief Land Use Officer within the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands Forestry and Fisheries, Trevor Thompson said the policy will also seek to protect the environment.
“What this policy seeks to do is to provide policy directives of how land will be managed going forward, so it basically gives the government and all citizens the guarantee for the protection of environmentally sensitive areas that are required for preservation, for water supply, for recreation etc.”
An aggressive public awareness campaign is expected to follow in coming months to ensure that the final draft document reflects the public’s feedback and concerns. An ambitious target of mid-2018 has been set to complete these public consultations before presenting the draft national land use policy document to the cabinet for review.