Video: SGU Marine and Wildlife Department Helps Recovery Efforts in Dominica

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

The Marine and Wildlife Department at St George’s University (SGU) lent its expertise to Dominica in its Post Hurricane Ecology Impact Assessment of their forest and endemic parrots Amazona Imperialis and Amazona Arausiaca.

A 7-member team comprising 2 faculty lecturers and 5 students, returned from Dominica after spending 10 days collecting scientific data documenting the regeneration of the rainforest. The data will be used to recommend ways the forestry department can better monitor the recovery process.

Dominica lost 60 % of their forest area following the passage of category 4 hurricane Maria which made landfall on 19 September 2017 and is at a slow pace of recovery according to team leader Steve Nimrod, lecturer at SGU.

Nimrod said they collected data on selected species of trees of commercial and ecological interest and did not do all of the species. The data is being analysed, to compile a comprehensive report together with recommendations that can guide the monitoring of forestry area. “At the moment we are comping the data and we are going to send the data back in the form of a report where we can graphically display the data and will show them the statistical analysis we conducted with the data.” The report will also detail some recommendations on how to move forward with conservation of the forest and lessons learned from their experience during Hurricane Ivan.

As part of the team’s recommendation, Nimrod advised that continuous monitoring of the rainforest is needed particularly the change in the behaviour of the island’s endemic parrots. “We are noticing a change in the behaviour of parrots based on what used to happen prior to the hurricane The parrots’ behaviour have been modified considerably in terms of their feeding activities, and we hope to monitor that.” He said it is important to document the lessons learned so that other islands [can benefit] and it doesn’t have to be a completely new process in terms of recovery.

Speaking of the slow recovery process, SGU lecturer, Leon Radix said the islands still have a long way to go before returning to a sense of normality. “It is not good on the ground as you can imagine. The housing stock — a lot of their houses is pretty much destroyed; the road network is broken, the capital city has some amount of electricity, but generally speaking we can see that the island has been ravaged.”

Students Ashley Lambert, Amonie Holas and Quincy Augustine shared their experience with NOW Grenada.

Quincy Augustine: “When we got there it was quite depressing; the people were still traumatised. A lot of the surveys that we did [there were] a lot of fallen trees. We saw a lot of the endemic parrots. Overall the experience there was a bit hard at times, but with the help of the forestry department, they were able to make our experience comfortable.”

Ashley Lambert: “The trip was an opportunity for us to put into practice all that we have learned in class, so I think all the things we have been learning in classes like ecological research methods, we were all [able to] practice it in real life. We also had the opportunity to work in a different rainforest as opposed to Grand Etang.”

Amonie Holas: “The trip was a really good experience. We got to apply the various skills and methods that we learned from courses here at SGU into a professional setting and working with different people from the same field. It was really inspiring.”

The 5-17 January mission to Dominica was funded by SGU School of Arts and Sciences, Dean’s office,GAEA Conservation and the Education Conservation Outreach (ECO).

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