World Wetlands Day in St Vincent and the Grenadines
World Wetlands Day Celebration in Union Island
Clean-up of Ashton Lagoon Wetland
February 1, 2007
- The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (www.scscb.org), a non-profit organization implementing the Ashton Lagoon Restoration Project
- The Sustainable Grenadines Project http://cermes.cavehill.uwi.edu/susgrenadinesIndex.html
- Ministry of Health & the Environment
Organized by: Union Island Environmental Attackers, President, Katrina Collins. The mission of this non-profit organization is to maintain the beauty of our island and to promote our tourism industry. We have 17 members and have conducted 17 clean-ups in Union Island during the past 6 years. http://www.myunionisland.com/EnvironmentalAttackers/index.html
The theme for this year World Wetlands Day celebration was:
Wetlands support Fisheries
Aims of the clean-up: To beautify the Ashton Lagoon area and raise the level of awareness of the importance of wetlands in general and Ashton Lagoon in particular
The Environmental Attackers of Union Island organized a clean-up campaign of areas around Ashton Lagoon and staged a ceremony on wetland importance through a video show, discussion, and barbecue.
The Clean-up Project involved persons from:
- Union Island Environmental Attackers
- Sustainable Grenadines Project
- Union Island Secondary School
- Mary Hutchinson Primary School
- Central Water Sewerage Authority
- Public Health in St. Vincent
- Caribbean Environmental Health Institute
A total of 75 persons took part in the project, and included children from 3 schools ranging in age from 8 to 18 years, and 5 teachers. This was the biggest group that has ever participated in a clean-up.
The clean-up took place from 6 AM to 10:30 AM. It was a challenge to get everyone up and out this early, but everyone came through. Plastic gloves were handed out to all participants and we divided into groups of four and one team called themselves the G Unit cleaning teams. A total of one hundred bags of garbage were collected along with six tall garbage bins from the Ashton Lagoon area and also along the drains and the sidewalks of the street. The garbage that was picked up included a lot of plastic bottles, plastic bags, styrafoam plates, containers, shoes, oil cans and breakable bottles.
After the clean-up was completed, a ceremony was held at the Sustainable Grenadines Project office. Project Manager, Martin Barriteau, gave a presentation about World Wetlands Day, how wetlands support fisheries, and the importance of Ashton Lagoon. Participants received copies of World Wetlands Day materials. Environmental Attackers President, Katrina Collins, commented, "The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines needs to put litter laws in place so that people will learn that if they litter they will have to pay a fine. Such a law would greatly reduce the litter in this small Island." Participants agreed that this was something that needed to be done.
After the ceremony Environmental Attackers celebrated the success of the event by hosting a barbecue for all participants. People commented on how pretty the area looked after the clean-up. Community members also stated that they hoped everyone paid attention to what was going on and would learn a lesson from it. "People should not litter," said one gentleman, "because somebody else always has to clean it up."
Ms. Collins commented at the conclusion of the event "It was an experience we will never forget; it has made all of us recognize the fact that more people need to understand the environment in which we live and how to take care of it." She noted that students from the schools would now like to be members of the Union Island Environmental Attackers.
The clean-up event was covered by our local television station and Cross Country Radio. Transportation was donated by Mr. Saville Lewis and Mr. Roseman Adams for the school children from Ashton to Clifton.
The cost of the clean-up was $960.00 (garbage bags, water boots, plastic gloves, food and drinks for the barbecue,)
Importance and Functions of Ashton Lagoon Wetland:
- Nursery for Marine Life
- Flood control
- Coastal Protection
- Habitat for biodiversity (mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass beds, lobster, conch, birds)
- Sustained rural livelihoods
- Heritage, recreation and education
- Sediment trap
- Wetland products
Ashton Lagoon represents one of the largest wetland areas in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Ashton lagoon contains the largest mangrove forest in SVG. Also associated with the lagoon are sea grass beds, coral reef and a salt pond. The lagoon as been damaged by a failed marina development, but the SCSCB hopes to help Union Island stakeholders restore the lagoon with the Ashton Lagoon Restoration Project.