The first of fourteen field trips across Dominica with a view to audit, design and ultimately rehabilitate the WAItukubuli National Trail started in the Scotts-Head Soufriere area last week.                    

The work which begins on segment one of the Waitukubuli National Trail is being conducted under the World Bank funded Emergency Agricultural Livelihoods and Climate Resilience Project (DEALCRP).

The WNT rehabilitation project is being administered through the Ministry of Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and Food Security.

“What we are doing now is to begin what we refer to as the audit and the design consultancy. This consultancy is going to review the present status of the trail since Hurricane Maria and we will come up with recommendations as to how we go to restore the trail to its previous glory. And so we are starting the process. The first field trip starts right here at Segment 1 which runs from Scotts Head to Soufriere Sulphur Springs,” explained Forestry Officer in the Project Implementation Unit, Mr. Ronald Charles.

PENDEC is the consulting team which was awarded the contract to undertake the audit of the WNT.

“The scope of our services entails the mapping of the entire trail route from segment one to segment fourteen. We are undertaking the audit of the exiting amenities and infrastructure on the trail. As we know Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria caused severe damage to the trial and the bed as we traverse along and it’s the Government’s intention to ensure that the trail is rehabilitated so that we can have the visitors as well as the locals doing their hiking and taking pleasure in the trial once again. So what we will be doing on the field trip is a pilot run on segment one of the trial,” stated Winyard Esprit, a representative of the consulting firm.

The consulting team will go through the trail with the intention of restoring the facilities which were destroyed by Hurricane Maria while at the same time retaining the trails natural essence.

“We have, from the inception of the trail, a document that gives us all of the amenities that were built and put in place on the trail and what we will be doing is seeing which of these amenities are still standing, which needs to be repaired, which needs to be replace and any other features or infrastructure that need to be added. We know that there were several of the river crossings that were damaged and we need to undertake survey and redesigns of those crossings to put in place for a more leisure hiking of the trail,” Mr. Esprit noted.

Input from those who use the WNT is important to the process.

Ray Francis of the Next Level Hikers welcomes efforts to restore the national trail.

“After Maria it was difficult, because we could not go to any of those trails. We actually cleared some on our own but we had wait for the Forestry Division to clear the trails. So seeing now that it is going to get an upgrade and improve, we are looking forward to this new experience,” Mr. Francis stated.

The rehabilitation of the Waitukubuli National Trail is a key component of the Emergency Agricultural and Climate Resilience Project of the Ministry of Blue and Green Economy, Agriculture and National Food Security.