Visitors to the Environmental/Arbor Day Expo tomorrow, Saturday, September 28, will have an opportunity to tour new attractions in the North Wall Park at the National Conservation Commission (NCC) at Codrington, St. Michael.

The expo, which runs from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., is being held under the theme: Trees the Circle of Life.

The North Wall Park is the latest feature to be added to the NCC???s Codrington, St. Michael location. It features a solar powered pond and waterfall, composting area, orchard, an apiary and observational bee hive.

In addition, members of the public interested in tapping into the bee industry may also purchase hives from the NCC during and after the expo.

Senior Technical Officer at the NCC, Ryan Als, said the North Wall Park formed part of the NCC???s commitment to implement projects and programmes that complemented Government???s overall goal of becoming the most advanced green economy in the Caribbean and Latin America by 2015.

He explained that the North Wall Park sits on two acres of land space which was previously an abandoned limestone quarry site.
However, the area has been transformed into an educational area, making full use of the NCC???s energy saving measures, while also highlighting the importance of composting and recycling.

During an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Mr. Als said that the features in the park complemented each other.

He pointed out that the apiary would not only allow visitors to the park to see the bees at work and get a better understanding of their role in the environment, but also to pollinate the nearby orchard and trees in the medicinal garden. ???We are trying to highlight the fact to people, especially farmers, that bees increase crop yields through pollination,??? he explained.

There are presently four bee hives in the park, with each containing between 2, 000 to 5, 000 bees, and the Senior Technical Officer pointed out that they were located in a no chemical zone where the use of pesticides was prohibited.

In addition, plants selected for the apiary are those used by the bees for nectar, and other species to add variety.

However, the bees are but one of the new attractions along the North Wall Park. Those going for tours in the area will also see a variety of trees, including gooseberry, mango, plum, pomegranate, pear, golden apple and coconut trees, planted at the eastern and western end of the Park.

The journey through the park will also take visitors to the medicinal herb garden where the popular Maringa trees form a canopy for those entering the garden, which features herbs such as cerci bush.

Mr. Als explained the garden was created through a project which the NCC originally undertook with the Diabetes Association of Barbados, to teach members about plant propagation. ???The health aspect of propagation came into focus and Government agreed to allow them to continue using the area where they could continue planting vegetables and medicinal herbs,??? he pointed out.

He added that the garden would also serve to preserve knowledge about traditional herbs used by fore parents for general health and wellness. ???Much of the knowledge of the use of these herbs by the general population has been gradually declining. The preservation of this knowledge is important, and the creation of an arboretum for this purpose is vital for the continued education of the youth and young adults who may not have been fortunate to be exposed to this by their parents and grandparents,??? Mr. Als said.

However, while there is a great thrust at biodiversity and efforts at greening, the NCC is also seeking to maximise its use of renewable energy. The North Wall Park features a 10, 000 gallon solar powered fish pond and waterfall. ???The plan is to run it off of renewable energy in the long run,??? he said, noting water in the pond was from the NCC???s water harvesting project.

Mr. Als explained the pond fitted into the NCC???s solar initiative which uses photovoltaic panels to supply power to the pump on the water harvesting system and security lighting on the compound.

???People are now more interested in touring projects involving solar water harvesting,??? he said, noting signage would be erected around the park.

These sign posts will also explain the importance of composting. Mr. Als outlined that the compost area utilised limbs, grass and vegetation from within the park mixed with farm manure that is watered by rain water harvested from the roof tops.

That, he added, would then be used again in the gardens around the NCC. ???Compost produces a rich source of humus for the laws and garden to be utilised in the park. This adds nutrients to the plants and helps retain moisture in the soil,??? he said, noting this was just one of the benefits.

These new projects are expected to provide an added attraction for visitors at the expo, as officials at the NCC seek to increase public awareness about renewable energy and biodiversity. ???A focal point of these tours will be showcasing our efforts, especially as it relates to the use of renewable energy and the support and promotion of biodiversity,??? Mr. Als added.

All those wishing to take a tour of the North Wall Park after tomorrow???s expo must first contact the NCC at 425-1200 to make an appointment before so doing.

???It is not a public park, and we still need to maintain security for our staff so there will be organised tours,??? he stated.

Author: Julie.Rawlins-Bentham

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