Advancing knowledge management in government
Forestry Service, Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security

The Problem

Land Degradation in Mauritius
During its short course of history, land degradation has significantly been felt in Mauritius. The root causes of land degradation has been deforestation, unsustainable agriculture and to a lesser extent inappropriate urbanization.
The bio-physical impacts are erosion causing loss of fertile soil, decrease of soil depth, decrease in soil organic matter and water holding capacity, and deposition of sediments in river beds and lagoons.
The loss of Biodiversity which is our priceless heritage and the ecological integrity of natural systems upon which we all depend have been regarded as the single biggest threat caused by land degradation.

Why was the project started?
Powder Mills is a relatively small forest area of an extent of 60 hectares amidst an ocean of sugar cane fields with fragmented rural villages in the district of Pamplemmousse next to SSR National Hospital
The name Powder Mills was given to the region as “Moulin a Poudre” because of a Gun Powder Factory shifted in the region by the French in the year 1774 from Baie aux Tortues. The French lost the battle against the British in 1810 and the existing native forest borne the consequence
The forest was cleared completely to make place for administrative blocks, a colonial court, a hanging tower, prisoner’s cells, and a hospital for leprosy patients and a cemetery for hanged prisoners. The cultural landscape changed gradually and it took years to reconstruct the forest.
Sustainability required a built-in infrastructure that responded to the emotional and psychological needs of the people by providing stimulating environments, raising awareness of a lost biodiversity synergized with historical values, inspiring the human spirit, bonding societies, local communities, and neighborhoods

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
It took more than five decades to re-construct the forest down from a post- battlefield. However, the project took shape in 2006 and its implementation has come into force on its full swing in 2011
The project aims to reconstruct the forest ecosystem of the site whilst safeguarding the historical ruins and values of the site in respect to conservation, ecological balance, eco-restoration, recreation, and biodiversity conservation using e-tools, environmental education, public awareness and collective approach of the forestry service through the local people participation in the design process.
What problems does the project solve and who benefit from it?
The project provides solutions to the cross-cutting root causes of deforestation through history whilst distinctively assembling historical monuments, cultural vitality, and enduring socio economic activity
There are three main free ecosystem services which the project of sustainable reconstruction of forest at Powder Mills provides for the kind benefits of the present and future generation of the region
The impact of the initiative was significantly been felt. The ecosystem services and recreational facilities combined with an illustrious historical heritage provided by the sustainable management of the site are intangible. A regular assessment survey of the forest, nature walks and impressive components of Powder Mills reconstruction of forest initiative indicate the favourable response of the public and is actually known as one of the island`s finest hospitability landmarks of the north
• Provisional services which reflect goods and services extracted from the ecosystem .some of them are: food, fodder for domestic animals, firewood, wood for crematorium Medicinal plants, ornamentals
• Regulation services which result from the capacity of the ecosystem to regulate climate, hydrological and bio-chemical cycles, earth surface processes and a variety of biological processes. Some of them are carbon sequestration, climate sequestration, temperature, hydrological service: regulation of the timing and volume of river flows, protection against floods, control of erosion and sedimentation, nursery service, pollution and protection against noise and dust
• Cultural services which relate to the benefits people obtain from ecosystems of the new forest at Powder Mills through recreation; cognition development; relaxation; and spiritual reflection
Some of the cultural services provided are a historical landscape, provision of cultural, historical and religious heritage; scientific and educational information and opportunities for leisure, recreation and nature based tourism

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The Forestry Service of the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security was the initiator of the project. The main sustainable development strategy of the reconstruction of the forest at Powder Mills aimed to strengthen self-responsibility, community participation and inter- institutional coordination. Different stakeholders participating in the built –in processing are the Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security, Ministry of Health and Quality of Service and the Ministry of Arts and Culture. The Core components are the recognition of the ruins of old historical buildings, cemeteries and canals within a forest site of rare exotic s combined with endemic trees in full ecological process.
Community involvement in the project and the efficiency of the forest officers of the northern division has been crucial. The leadership of Mr. V. Tezoo, Conservator of Forest and team spirit of the officers of the Biodiversity Unit headed by Mr R.Rutty Divisional Forest Assistant enhanced the reconstruction and implemented successfully the environmental education program and public awareness

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The initiative is in line with the mission of the Forestry Service which is to manage the forest resources for, with, and on behalf of the people of Mauritius and its goal for accelerated growth and development of the nation`s forest sector in harmony with our Republic national development plan. The specific objectives to attain the initiative from an articulated vision and Strategic Planning Process which take into account the need to modernize practices using e-tools and mainstream environmental considerations
The strategy conveys a high standard of architectural landscape quality in the way it addresses historical, cultural and environmental factors. With space and form of utmost significance, the sustainable reconstruction of the forest is meant to have a lasting aesthetic impact on its surrounding environment which proudly encompasses the SSR National Hospital which is the largest health institution of the North.
Design quality of the Visitors centre, Nature walks, medicinal garden, recreational amenities and plant nursery with the riparian construction of rivers and streams crossing the forest of Powder Mills is the aspect that clearly distinguishes sustainable reconstruction of the forest site from other forms of sustainable development.
In order to reach the target of excellence highly praised by the local people, emphasis was laid on practical and innovative strategies and the following combined aspects of service delivery by all involved officers:
• Customer focus
• Effectiveness and efficiency in every angle
• Leadership and team spirit to enhance the green technology
We strive hard to provide the ultimate best customer care treatment for all who pass through the nature walks. We remain true to our core values and to a philosophy of excellence. These values include friendly, yet superior service, top class facilities and ultimate in convenience and comforts
The project initiative was achieved in –house by the Forestry Service.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The post war period around 1810 up to 1900 witnessed the deforestation of the northern plain of the island. The forestry service started the reconstruction of the last remnant patch of cleared forest. The forest consists of around 50 species of introduced tree species and around 100 endemic plant species which once constituted the northern coastal vegetation type before the arrival of man on this island.
Reconstruction was enhanced in the year 2006 and to cope better with the challenge of Ile Durable Project a strategic sensitising campaign was initiated to arouse public awareness through nature walks, visitors centre and guided educational tours and environmental education to the young and the old through e-tools.
The unique strength of the rural integration of the informal area lies in its comprehensive and ground-breaking approach to the reduction of the nation wide problem of ecosystem system services context through addressing local people livelihoods, providing conservation education and improving environmental sustainability. The third steps of the project is the transformation of an existing building into a visitor`s interpretation centre, a traditional medicinal garden an endemic plant garden and a network of eco-trails to enable visitors to enjoy the historical, river and natural forest features.
We are every inch a top marker in the eco touristic attraction and since its implementation the nature walks with its network of eco-trails have offered the visitors a “green carpet experience.”

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
It was not an easy job to reach a top level of achievement
Since the application of innovative use of an integrated and collaborative strategic system of sustainable reconstruction of the forest area out from a historical battlefield and its conservation education and public awareness plan, the Forestry Service encountered the following obstacles:
• No accurate, map of forest cover of the northern plain, land ownership and forest condition was available to recreate the exact pristine type of the forest.
• A Computerized Forest Land Information System was not available
• No Capacity development for accurate forest cover mapping using remote sensing and ground truthing.
• No Capacity Building in application and use of Geographical Information System (GIS) Global Positioning System (GPS), Forest Information System with data on forest type and watershed for proper monitoring at that time
In-house training, capacity building of the all forest officers in the handling of tools and equipment, total quality service, Community centric approach ,technical knowhow capabilities and customer care facility and a team building enable the service to face the challenge

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Adequacy of policy, legal and institutional framework.
These criteria ascertain the existence of policy, legal and institutional framework in the forest service for proper planning, protection and management of the forest land for the objective of ensuring continuous availability of forest goods and services. The important legal instrument comprise of:
• Forests and Reserves Act 41 of 1983 as amended by Act No.1 of 1986
• National Forest Policy 2006
Human Resources capacity building efforts.
In order to address the issues of the project initiative effectively, it has been imperative to have competent and well trained staff and officers. This indicator records the initiative for creating and enhancing human capabilities through various training programs and enhancement of technical skills. No external funding was required. The concept, design, construction and management of the project were carried out in –house.
The cost involved was from the capital budget of the Forestry service. All the human resources were provided by the northern division of the service laudably supported by Mr S Goboodhun Divisional Forest assistant of the North

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
This project initiative to reconstruct a forest area providing valuable ecosystem services boosting the communal economy and healthy lifestyle demonstrate innovation at the forefront of sustainable construction of a growing nation. Although being a small scale model initiative, the project has breakthroughs and trend- setting approaches for transferability to a range of other applications like dissemination of knowledge (project documentation and communication, education and training)
It is an outstanding model of sustainable forest re-construction in synergy with conservation of historical heritage. The environmental education and public awareness not only mark significant advancement but this innovative idea is one which is meant to be replicated by any body, copied again and again, thus promising the greatest benefit at global scale.
The reconstruction of forest at Powder Mills, environmental education and public awareness project initiative by the forestry service is affordable, simple and broadly replicable and applicable at national and international levels
The project helps to establish long term new bases for livelihoods, stimulating local socio-economic activity and paving the way to a broader economic integration.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
We, as public officers, have always been learning from inspirational tools and innovating opportunities to find new and better solutions to challenges we face in the Public Sector for an effective Community Centred Service Delivery and good governance.
The project of reconstruction of a forest site down from a battlefield since decades slowly but surely in fact values the input of the forest officers of the Forestry Service and triggers the participation of citizens for the good cause of the island priceless heritage which is the green island proverbially known as paradise of the Indian ocean.
The environmental education and public awareness adhere to the highest ethical standard and support social equity
The Quality Service and team building spirit have enabled the Forestry Service to cross the extraordinary milestone in the quest for excellence and results.
The impact of the initiative was significant. Staff morale rose to top level due to prevailing team spirit and top management commitment and leadership. The public, treated with courtesy, consideration and fairness responded favorably to an effective feedback mechanism set up by the initiative.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Forestry Service, Ministry of Agro Industry and Food Security
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Rajmohunsing Rutty
Title:   Divisional Forest Assisstant  
Telephone/ Fax:   670 7254/674 3449
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Biodiversity Unit , Forestry service, Curepipe
Postal Code:  
City:   Curepipe
Country:   Mauritius

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