Volunteers of the Sandals Foundation, Grenada Fund for Conservation (GFC) and the Youth Emergency Action Committee (YEAC) embarked on a mangrove clean-up activity last Saturday in observance of World Wetlands Day (WWD) on 2 February.
In activating this year’s theme, “Wetlands Action for People and Nature,” the group of 35 volunteers removed garbage in areas closest to the observation tower at the Woburn mangrove site covering just over 0.25 km. Within 2 hours, the volunteers retrieved 27 bags of garbage and piles of bulky items such as tires, one mini-fridge, one television, fencing and other household items, as well as electronics and building materials.
Alifa St Paul, Environment, Health & Safety Manager at Sandals Grenada Resort, shared further on the analysis of garbage retrieved by the volunteers, “Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of items collected were plastic bottles, glass bottles and plastic bags. Interestingly, hard- to remove micro plastics and worn Styrofoam remain present, despite the national ban on Styrofoam single use items. Based on the location, we can assume this waste was brought into the mangrove system inland via the drains and littering at and near the site, also from illegal dumping, or from the ocean tides that run into the mangrove.”
Reiterating the importance of protecting mangroves, Zoya Buckmire, GFC Project Administrator, shared on its functions, “This mangrove is home to over 60 species of birds, as well as crabs, iguanas, and snakes including our endemic Grenada Bank Tree Boa. In addition to providing a habitat for these important animals, they act as carbon sinks, as mangroves absorb 6 times as much carbon as other trees. Additionally, they physically protect the communities around them from flooding and storms. So we need to keep them clean and safe for natural life to continue to flourish.”
Between 2009 and 2013, with funding from GEF-SGF, The Nature Conservancy, and Seacology Foundation, GFC undertook major rejuvenation of this mangrove site that was badly depleted post Hurricanes Ivan and Emily, restoring it as one of the most vibrant mangroves in Grenada. This year, with support from both the Sandals Foundation and Seacology Foundation, there are plans to expand eco-tourism opportunities there.
Tyrone Buckmire, founder of Grenada Fund for Conservation, echoes the clarion call to all Grenadians to dispose of garbage responsibly, and encourages everyone to do their part by joining local and national efforts to keep Grenada clean and beautiful, not just for WWD or special observances, but all year round.
Over the years, the Sandals Foundation has been a key partner of the GFC in ecosystem conservation. By engaging the support of students and residents, mangroves have been planted in various communities across the island including Pearls, Telescope and Woburn.