THIS Caribbean island of Dominica, formerly a British colony, has a land area of 290 sq. mi. (751 sq. km.), with a population of 71,727 (2006 est.), and a population density of 272 people per sq. mi. (105 people per sq. km.). Some 9 percent of the land area is arable, with another 3 percent available for use as meadows or pasture. Unlike many other Caribbean islands, Dominica does not rely heavily on tourism, although some 70,000 people do visit the country each year. One major environmental problem for Dominica is that hurricanes hit the island at regular intervals. Although much of the land area of Dominica is higher than many of its low-lying neighbors, the rising sea temperature is threatening the marine life around the island, as well as the coral reefs at Scotts Head Drop and the Pinnacle. Some divers have already noticed the start of coral bleaching, and the ministry of tourism has been worried that this might eventually result in a downturn in the number of tourists that do visit the island.
Traditionally, Dominica has had a low carbon dioxide emission level per capita, with 0.8 metric tons per person in 1990, although this has progressively risen, and was 1.8 metric tons per person in 2003, with Dominica ranking 121st in carbon dioxide emissions, almost entirely from using liquid fuels. The country's agricultural industry has traditionally relied on the heavy use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which cause other environmental problems.
With the rising sea levels, there are worries that the flooding of parts of Dominica, that might result, could lead to the spread of malaria and dengue fever, and also damage the water-bottling industry that has become an important part of the local economy. This has led to moves introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment in Roseau, the country's capital, to reduce the use of chemicals in agriculture. The Dominican government of Eugenia Charles took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and in April-May 1994, Dominica was represented at the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States held in Barbados. The government of Roosevelt Skeritt accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on January 25, 2005, which went into effect on April 25, 2005.
SEE ALSO: Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS); Hurricanes and Typhoons; Oceanic Changes; Sea Level, Rising; Tourism.
bibliography. "Dominica: A Sustainable and Organic Nation," Chronicle Roseau (June 18, 2004); D.A. McQuillan, "Accessibility and the Development of Export Agriculture in Dominica," Caribbean Geography (v.1/3, 1984).
JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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