Press Release:–The Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) and other partners joined in the global effort to preserve wetlands by commemorating World Wetlands Day which is celebrated annually on February 2nd. The theme for this year is ‘Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction.’ It speaks to raising awareness and highlighting the vital roles of healthy wetlands in reducing the impacts of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and cyclones on communities, and in helping to build resilience.
In observance of World Wetlands Day, the SLNT organized activities which were focused on the Ma Kôté and Savannes Bay Mangroves which are the largest mangrove systems in Saint Lucia and have been designated as Ramsar sites under the Wetlands Conventions of 2002. (Visit www.ramsar.org for more information on the Wetlands Convention and other global initiatives targeting wetlands). On Thursday 2nd, February ninety-one (91) students and teachers from schools in the Southern Districts visited the mangroves and participated in exercises which promote mangrove sustainability. Activities included removal of garbage from mangrove areas and planting of mangrove propagules within Ma Kôté Mangroves. The students also had an opportunity to learn more about the importance of mangroves through interaction with SLNT staff and members of the Au Picon Charcoal and Agricultural Producers group all of whom, along with government agencies work towards the sustainability of the mangroves.
In addition, on Saturday 4th February, members of the public were invited to a clean-up campaign of the Ma Kôté Mangroves and Scorpion Island within Savannes Bay. Over eighty (80) very enthusiastic members of the SLNT, Lions Club and other volunteer groups turned out to support the campaign. A vibrant atmosphere and spontaneous camaraderie made light work of the important task of refuse removal, which unfortunately needs to occur way too often as indiscriminate solid waste disposal is a constant threat facing mangrove systems. In the culmination of activities, a volume of approximately 1000 lbs of refuse was extracted from the mangroves.
According to Mr. Craig Henry, Programme Officer of the SLNT, ‘Many of the participants marveled at the shear expansiveness and allure of the mangrove forest within just a short walk in. The Trust thanks all the members, students, teachers, groups and members of the public who supported our initiatives”. To those who promised to return, we are waiting. The SLNT also thanks all partners, including the Departments of Fisheries and Forestry, Saint Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority, The Nature Conservancy and the Ministry of Education for contributing to our success.
These events to commemorate World Weekends Day 2017 were made possible through support from the Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network (ECMMAN) project funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).