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Save the Environment - A Cry from Commonwealth Youth Leaders

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Contact: Rose Marie Harris

March 8, 1999 - Youth leaders of non-governmental organisations from the Commonwealth wrapped up a ten-day Study Tour to Saint Lucia, this week with a call for government and non-governmental organisations of the wider region, to do more towards the protection of the environment. Saint Lucia though has been commended for its collaborative approach between government and non-governmental organisations in saving the environment.

According to young Panicos Panides from Cyprus, European countries still have a lot to learn as it relates to the environment. He says because of the lack of a consultative approach the governments of these European islands are facing numerous problems in dealing with environmental issues. Panides says, "It was very fulfilling for me to see here that Saint Lucia is actually doing something that a lot of European countries and Cyprus has not succeeded in doing so far – trying to get the communities, the NGO’s involved in the implementation process of policies." He made special mention of the Soufriere Marine Management Area’s Charcoal Producers, the Saint Lucia Heritage Tourism Programme, that all work along with the NGO’s in implementing policies that will impact on the environment.

Meanwhile Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment, Dr. James Fletcher is of the view that much more can be done here towards saving the environment and the future generation. He cited the problems that deforestation of the island’s water catchment areas, for non-sustainable fuel wood extraction, which has led to the depletion of wood resources, soil erosion, massive landslides, loss of valuable agricultural lands and a reduction in water quality and quantity. "Here in Saint Lucia, the Ministry of Agriculture is trying to come to terms with the findings of two studies, that looked at the feasibility that looked at feasibility of irrigating our banana plantations and other agricultural areas, and believe it or not, both of these studies have pointed out to an insufficiency of water in Saint Lucia for irrigation", the agriculture official lamented.

This, according to Fletcher has frightening consequences for Saint Lucia as a country, for the Ministry of Agriculture that is attempting to make a transition from rain-fed agricultural production to more planned agricultural production.

The Ministry of Agriculture and the Environment recently established the Canaries/Anse La Raye Marine Management Authority (CAMA) and soon the island should see a St. Lucia Marine Management Authority that will look at how the island’s marine resources are used. This is yet another step by the Ministry in its continued drive at saving the island’s natural resources.

 

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