Mangrove rescue on target at Palisadoes

Twenty red mangrove saplings were planted on the Palisadoes strip in Kingston on Friday in an effort to restore the country’s ecosystem.

The project also marked a milestone for the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) which celebrated its 20th anniversary on the day.

The $4.5-million project was done in partnership with NEPA, The University of the West Indies (UWI) Centre for Marine Sciences, and the United Nations Environment Programme Caribbean subregional office.

According to Monique Curtis, manager for Ecosystems Management Branch at NEPA, the project should be maintained over the next three to five years.

“There’s more to come on the site. It is going to be important for us to manage the site in order for those saplings to get to a level of maturity so that they can be resilient against impacts, especially from solid waste,” said Curtis, adding that the project started the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, 2021-2030.

Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr stressed that the project was not only focused on restoring mangroves.

“This is a critical project – planting these mangrove saplings along the coastline with the infrastructure to protect it is a comprehensive way to advance ecosystem restoration. It’s not just about planting mangroves, it’s also about protecting it and putting in place a sustainable process to maintain it, so that it can do its job,” he said.

“As they grow, they will do their natural job at protecting this place and providing shelter for the vast biodiversity to flourish in this area,” Charles Jr added.

Meanwhile, Camilo Trench, academic coordinator and lecturer at The UWI Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory, noted that due to a high level of solid waste in Kingston, the mangroves are unable to naturally regenerate.

“Mangroves have been here before people but, now, solid waste – the plastic bags, bottles, and fishing gear and sometimes old refrigerators, sofas, tyres, or large trees – coming from the Rio Cobre river makes it very difficult for them [mangroves] to regenerate because they’ll wrap around them,” he said.

Pointing to a fence used to prevent solid waste from destroying the mangroves, Trench said, “We couldn’t use normal fencing. The plastic material here is rated for 25 years of UV [ultraviolet] resistance and the posts are specially designed to be anchored deep in the ground. It has to be very firm.”

He explained that research indicates that mangroves have over 200 documented uses worldwide.

Some of those functions of the mangroves, he said, include providing oxygen; carbon sequestration; and serving as a habitat for fish and filtration mechanism to filter solid waste and liquid waste such as sewage.



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