National Conservation Authority (NCA) General Manager James Perineau has expressed concern over suspected vandalism at Vigie Beach on Friday, where an almond tree was on fire.
Locals, visitors, and the Saint Lucia Fire Service put out the blaze.
The NCA General Manager told St. Lucia Times that the incident occurred in an area protected by law for locals and visitors to use.
Perineau said when such things happen, the cause is either a lack of awareness where people are not conscious enough about the environment or a total disdain for authority due to the country’s shifting values.
“For us, it is important that we maintain the pristine nature of that space to protect the ecology and the biodiversity that exists there as our patrimony,” the NCA official told St. Lucia Times.
He warned that acts of vandalism would attract prosecution to the full extent of the law.
Perineau recalled that a beach visitor without connection to the NCA brought the almond tree fire to his attention.
He said he immediately drove to the site where locals and visitors were dousing the fire with seawater.
However, he said he called the fire service because the embers were still smoldering, and the firefighters extinguished the blaze.
“We are hoping that the tree doesn’t die because it is badly damaged,” Perineau stated.
He noted that the tree offers shade, a place for birds, and is part of the ecology.
The NCA General Manager observed that previously, the Authority had to extinguish a fire in the root of another almond tree.
Perineau explained that some people use Vigie beach for cookouts and start open fires.
“They use sometimes the root of those trees as one end of what you place the pot on and that catches fire,” he noted.
The NCA official appealed to people to desist from destroying the flora and fauna along the protected areas for citizens and future generations to enjoy.
He warned that to address the matter, the NCA would have to implement stringent measures to fine perpetrators.