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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

World Forest Day 2014



Article by: Jeannette Victor
                        Forestry Department


Birds sing their lovely melody, a cool fresh breeze embraces your body and mind, makes you feel refreshed, tranquil! What a wonderful experience you are graced with in the forest. But many may ask, what is a forest?

Millet Rainforest
A forest is a densely vegetated piece of land where a variety of living things; trees, wildlife, shrubs, ferns, mosses and lichens occur naturally. This area can provide a range of goods and services to human beings. However, it is continually being destroyed by the same people that it benefits. Thus it was deemed necessary by the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization that every year March 21 be designated as World Forest Day
  
The importance of the forest is usually disregarded. The forest is home to
Amazona versicolor
many species of plants and animals which includes our national bird, Jacquot. The trees are converted into timber and used to build homes, furniture and other wood products. The rivers that we rely on for a steady supply of water all originate from the mountainous forested areas of the island interior.

Very dense leaf litter formed by fallen leaves act as a barrier to reduce the impact of raindrops which cause soil erosion, while the roots bind the soil to prevent land slippage. The trees filter the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis. This also regulates the atmosphere’s temperature and plays a vital role in climate control. The forest can also be used for studies by scientists as they carry out research in many areas including on the cure for many diseases.

Tree planting, Monchy
Many activities are being held to commemorate the importance of this significant natural resource. These include sharing information on the benefits that we stand to gain through forest conservation, tree planting activities - done to replace lost forest which due to natural disasters or deforestation. 
  
Make a wise decision today and help in conserving our forest, as the benefits are unlimited. Remember; take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time when enjoying our forest reserve.

Monday, February 10, 2014

WETLANDS AND AGRICULTURE; PARTNERS FOR GROWTH

Article by: Jeannette Victor
Forestry Department
                                                                                                                       
Yes yes, it’s here again! I know many of you may ask what is here again; the festive season being over.  World Wetlands Day is here again.  Then comes the follow up question; ‘What is World Wetlands Day?’  Well folks reading is one form of gaining knowledge, so come on, let’s read on!

Every year, February 2, is observed as World Wetlands Day around the globe.  It is an important day as Wetlands play a vital role in the environment. Wetlands are defined as areas where water covers the soil or is present either at or near the surface of the soil year round or for varying periods of time during the year (Ramsar.org).  In St.Lucia the important wetland areas (coastal wetlands) include but not limited to Boriel’s Pond, Savannes Bay and Makoté Mangrove, all located in Vieux-Fort.

The ecosystems of wetland areas have unique components; the soil, water, plants and animals. Freshwater, saltwater or brackish water are the three types of water that can be found in wetlands. These areas are home to many migratory birds that move to the warmer climate when their natural environment becomes too cold.  Mangroves, swamps, marshes and fens are all associated with wetlands.

There are two different types of wetlands; inland wetlands or coastal wetlands.  Inland Wetlands like lakes and ponds soak up the excess water that can cause floods after heavy rain.  They are also used as fishing ponds for fresh water fish and rice cultivation.  Coastal Wetlands protect the shorelines as they act as a natural barrier.  It can be considered as a safe haven for many young animals like crustaceans, fish and amphibians.
Makote Mangrove, Vieux Fort
The plants as well as the wildlife found in the wetlands maintain this special ecosystem as it acts as a water purifier as the water is being filtered of its impurity before flowing into other water systems.  Wetlands also support agriculture as it prevents saltwater intrusion that can be detrimental to agricultural crops. Wetlands in many parts of the world are used for food production, whether it is through aquaculture, grazing of animals especially in seasonal wetlands, abstraction of water from wetlands for irrigation etcetera,  hence the theme for this year; Wetlands and Agriculture; Partners for Growth.   

Boriel's Pond, Vieux Fort
It is now our business as responsible people to protect our wetlands as this unique ecosystem provide us with multiple services and benefits.  They are constantly under threat as many of them are drained and cleared for development, many are used as dumping grounds and still some like our mangroves are being overexploited for charcoal production.

It is not wise to dump waste products nor should you encourage others to do so in our wetlands, unfortunately a practice which is widespread here.  Do not indiscriminately cut down the trees to facilitate charcoal production, nor should it be destroyed along the coastal regions for hotel development. Sustainable management is vital. Secure our wetlands today for a better tomorrow!