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Enjoy our beautiful environment
Posted: Sunday, March 29, 2009

By Derren Joseph
March 29, 2009

Saturday 21st March was World Forestry Day. To be honest, I did not know it was World Forestry Day when we arranged to visit our friends Mary and Eden two Saturdays back. Mary had previously mentioned her involvement in the Environmental Club in her sons' school - Bishop's Anstey Junior School (BAJS) in St Ann's. That Saturday, we all spoke at length about the level of environmental sensitivity and awareness here in Trinidad and Tobago. The perfect "ole talk" for World Forestry Day. But I was most interested in a project called the BAJS Car Park project.

Mary explained that the BAJS Car Park project started at a PTA meeting in November 2008. From that meeting, a committee comprising parents was then formed to clean up a dump area that had formed within the school's car park, as well as to create a "green" space at the edge of the car park for use by the community. The project launched in January and the garbage has been removed, land leveled, trees and shrubs are being planted with benches and a table soon to be installed.

What is attractive about this project is that it involves not just the school, but it involves cooperation with the local community, the private sector and the state. These four key stakeholders are coming together to effect positive change.

The project has recognized that the local community is an important stakeholder of this initiative. These are the people who live close to BAJS and who will ultimately determine just how successful and sustainable this initiative will be. There has also been support from First Citizens through their C.A.R.E. (Citizens in Action to Restore the Environment) programme, whose objectives are:

- To heighten public awareness on the need to care about the environment.

- To play a part as a corporate citizen in ensuring that the environment is restored to its original pristine condition.

- To bring together the stakeholders including staff of First Citizens Bank to work on worthwhile ventures, building teamwork, morale and camaraderie.

- To maximize the opportunity to partner with external and internal parties with a view to creating value.

For those with similar projects who want more information, do visit their website for more details:
Kudos to the team at First Citizens.

The San Juan Laventille Regional Corporation also needs to be recognized for responding promptly and enthusiastically with the heavy equipment and labour needed to clear up the area. The committee hopes they can count on the Corporation's continued support. The project team has also received a call from the office of MP Gary Hunt who heard about the initiative and wants to meet with the committee to see how he can better support them.

Already the group is talking about extending the project further along the road in St Ann's in an effort to arrest some of the indiscriminate dumping which takes place along Ariapita Road. The expanded project has the support of Barry Bidaisee and the rest of the team at the Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre.

Another community project that Mary is involved in is the Fondes Amandes Community Re-Forestation project which has its origins on 15 acres of WASA reserve land in the hills of St Ann's. Under the leadership of Akilah Jaramogi, this community based agro-forestry project also offers eco-tours, eco-culture camps as well as organic plants and seedlings for sale. They especially welcome visits and participation from schools and there is more information on their website -

Sometimes it is easy to get cynical and become disenchanted with stories of environmental doom and gloom. Mary used the term "pockets of awareness" to describe these groups that dot our beautiful country and continue to work hard at making a positive difference. I would like to think that we are witnessing more and more groups of people coming together for this cause.

To all the community groups that are working hard to not just protect our environment but to enhance it as well - we say thank you.
For those who support recycling, please note that for plastic, we have Recycling in Motion (RIM)- 6786786; Piranha Technology- 6797826. For electronic recycling, we have Piranha Technology Asset Management- 6797826; Caribbean Tech Disposals- 625-TECH. For paper recycling, we have ACE Recycling Limited- 6383946; and SWMCOL (Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management)- 6256678, 6256680. For glass, we have Carib Glasswork Ltd.- 6622231.

As always, I end by saying that despite our challenges, we are so blessed to live in this beautiful country. We need to remember and acknowledge just how much uplifting work is being done all around us.

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