by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
The Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is leading the charge in confronting the sustainable development challenges experience within Grenada’s Ecosystem.
Hence the Implementation of a Ridge to Reef approach which is geared towards protecting biodiversity and ecosystems.
At the helm of this approach are the Marine Protected Area (MPA) Junior Rangers, students between the ages of 13 to 18, who are tasked with helping to tackle these environmental issues plaguing our island.
Ridge to Reef Marine Education Consultant, Christabelle Andrews is the facilitator and organiser of the Grenada Marine Protected Areas Junior Rangers Programme. The training, which started in July is aimed at transforming the minds of young people to take up leadership roles in sensitising their communities on the impact of climate change and the negative effects of pollution on coastal ecosystems.
Nine Junior Rangers are now more empowered to spread the message of environmental conservation after completing 6 months of hands-on training under the 3-year Ridge to Reef Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
As part of the programme, students are required to understand basic knowledge of marine and environmental science including biology, ecology, zoology, and conservation, as well as develop hands-on skills such as computer skills, marine research methods, water-craft operations, boat engine mechanics and emergency first-responder certification training.
A significant aspect of the programme will see the training of these 9 students in PADI scuba diving ethics facilitated by Olando Harvey, National Marine Protected Area Coordinator.
One of the participants Shanika Cobb, who resides in a community adjacent to the Moliniere-Beausejour Marine Protected Area, said the experience and knowledge will be put to good use. “I think that protecting the marine life is very important because we depend on it a lot, but some people don’t think it is important, so they destroy it by overfishing and dumping all their garbage. I feel very confident in going out and teaching [people] about it.”
Another participant, Rhsean Alexander said he is more educated on matters pertaining to environmental conservation and is prepared to take the message back to his community.
“The programme was an amazing experience. We learned how to set up our gear, how deep we can dive, types of corals; It’s not just a programme or a class that we came to every day, it’ an experience.”