EARTHCARE and the Sustainable Eco-Tourism Committee celebrate World Wetlands Day

TEAMWORK – Eco minded students hard at work cleaning wetlands.

CONTRIBUTOR: GAIL WOON

EARTHCARE and the Sustainable/Eco-Tourism Committee in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism conducted a mangrove clean-up in West End, in observance of World Wetlands Day on Saturday, February 2. Eco Heroes, students from West End Primary, Freeport Gospel Chapel School (Eco School) and LIS (Lucaya International School) (Eco School) gathered to clean mangroves in West End. The international theme for World Wetlands Day 2019 is ‘Wetlands and climate change We are not powerless against climate change.’ Wetlands can be vulnerable to climate change, being impacted by changes in temperature, rainfall, sea level rise and extreme events.

Mangroves store 50 times more carbon than tropical forests, ‘Do Not Remove.’ Coral reefs blunt tsunamis, ‘Do Not Destroy.’ Peatlands cover three percent of the earth’s land, yet store 30 percent of the world’s carbon, ‘Do Not Drain.’ Wetlands absorb carbon, Drained Wetlands release carbon. Seagrasses absorb carbon 35 times faster than rain forests, ‘Do Not Destroy.’ Wetlands function like shock absorbers, they buffer our coastlines from extreme weather. Wetlands are like sponges, they absorb flood waters during storms.

Wetlands are the key to coping with Climate Change. Wetlands play a significant role in stabilizing Green House Gas emissions and blunting the impacts of climate change. We must conserve and restore our wetlands.

The industrious students cleared 145 lb. of glass bottles, 98 lb. of plastic and 3 lb. of cans from the mangroves. The plastics will be sent by EARTHCARE to New Providence to be a part of an environmental awareness project.

Sr. Executive, Product Development, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation Jeffrey Pinder, informed the students of the importance of wetlands and mangroves to our country. He impressed upon the youth the need to take care of our environment now so that in the future they will be able to make a living from our abundant natural resources.

He urged them to come away with an attitude after the day’s activities, an attitude that protects and nurtures our fragile natural environment.

He invited Keith Cooper of West End Ecology Tours to tell the students about his eco business and how the natural environment is so important to his livelihood.

Students were interviewed by ZNS News after the mangroves were cleaned and the refuse weighed. The students were treated to a trip to Paradise Cove Beach Resort, where Mr. Miller gave them even more information about our natural wetlands and beautiful coastal areas.

He told the children about the importance of the coral reefs, and the mangroves. He also enlightened them about the Reef Ball installation and how the reef balls were manufactured and installed on site by Bahamians. Mr. Miller also reiterated that their eco business is very dependent upon keeping our environment clean and pristine.

The students who participated in the mangrove cleaning for World Wetlands Day are: West End Primary – Kayla Penn, Taylor Williams, Natalia Saunders and Giarjanae Strachan; Freeport Gospel Chapel School – Savannah Horton, Jada Major, Shayla Taylor, Giano Major, Xaria Ingraham, Clarence Carter, Ryan Gibson and Saida Malcolm with Ray Fawcett, Teacher; LIS – Hannah Brand, Theo Massey, Brody Thompson, Gabby Thompson, Eliza Crutchfield, Angelina Pages, Lucy Gape, Harrison Gape, Rahim Fox, Gonzalo Espejo De Llano and Gaia Versolatto with John Massey, Teacher and EARTHCARE Eco Kids Team Leader, Tyler Riley of Sunland Baptist Academy and parent, Daphne Riley.

Gail Woon, representative from EARTHCARE said, “I am so pleased to see so many eco-minded students hard at work on their day off making our island a cleaner place to live. I have hope in my heart that these young people will become great stewards of the environment. The Bahamas is a signatory to the RAMSAR Convention, which is devoted to protecting valuable wetland areas around the world.

“Our country faces serious challenges in this regard when one looks at mega-developments in Bimini and Guana Cay to name a few that have destroyed large swathes of wetlands. I especially thank Jeffrey Pinder, the Sustainable Tourism Committee; Keith Cooper of West End Ecology Tours; Mr. Miller and the staff at Paradise Cove Beach Resort; Isabella Thompson, parent, teachers, parents and the students who made this day a success.”

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