Pupils celebrate World Environment Day
...with St Ann's group
The hills of St Ann's echoed with the singing of the pupils during the early morning.
It was World Environment Day and pupils of Athenian Primary and the International School joined in celebrating this world calendar event on the site of the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP)
Akilah Jaramogi, managing director of FACRP, led her young audience through a very informative and entertaining itinerary as to what the day really meant to our local communities.
The FACRP has proven to be a dynamic environmental organisation since its inception in 2004 when members of the Fondes Amandes farming community came together to protect their valley through watershed management.
They introduced fire suppression and flood control techniques and the agro-forestry method of planting that have since averted this western northern range valley from its historic forest fires and flooding.
Tour guides led pupils along trails that were former fire traces cut by the group and now further developed. Pupils saw how the FACRP practised surface water management by constructing filtering systems called check dams along water courses and steep trails.
Pupils also had the privilege of participating in a tree-planting exercise in observance of the day.
According to Jaramogi, watershed management is actively pursued via education and monitoring.
Families in the area are actively involved in the protection of the environment in which they live.
Through regular workshops, information and skills are passed on to the children at home so there is an awareness of the importance of conservation throughout the entire community.
Jaramogi said: "Before we began our work here, the hills of St Ann's were comprised of cocorite, razor grass and bamboo. These hills were prone to annual forest fires that resulted in heavy loss of forests. This had the domino effect in the rainy season when 'liquid mountain' went down into the valley and caused havoc through siltation and flooding.
"Through the dedicated work of members of our organisation, we were able to halt forest fires, stabilise the soil and monitor the quality of water.
"To date, we planted 60,000 seedlings from the foothills at 240 feet above sea level to Lady Chancellor at 2,500 feet above sea level.
"In the rainy season, we harvest the water for use at a later date when the dry season sets in and we need to water the plants.
"This is what watershed protection is all about. The forest is here for all of us but we have to use it wisely and pursue development with ecological integrity."
The FACRP partners with Water for Life and Global Water Partner Caribbean as well as the Water and Sewerage Authority.
The organisation is also part of the Forestry Division's reforestation project and a recipient of the Green Fund.
In the evening, the organisation received the Green Leaf Award from the Environment Management Authority, yet another of a long list of awards in recognition of its continuing work in protection of the natural environment.