The Ministry of Environment and National Beautification has earmarked the grove of mahogany trees in Pool Land, St. John, known as ‘Pool Woods’, as the next project under the National Clean and Green Campaign.
It will be transformed into a park and recreational space for residents through a collaborative effort between a number of departments, which fall under the remit of the Ministry, including the National Conservation Commission and the Sanitation Service Authority. This will be done while protecting the trees.
Minister of Environment, Adrian Forde, said he believed the area would become “one of the most beautiful parks in Barbados” judging from its rustic and natural beauty.
He added that the mahogany trees, which came to Barbados approximately 250 years ago, were crucial to preserving the natural biodiversity of the area, as well as managing the ecosystem.
“Often times, we hear about climate change, global warming and the threats that exist because of the vagaries. I said already that the new axiom in this Ministry is ‘Trees Save Lives’. Mahogany trees save lives too. The carbon sequestration from the leaves; the ability to cool the atmosphere; the root network that stops the soil erosion…. Their uses are multifaceted,” he underscored.
However, Minister Forde said while the trees were protecting the environment, they, too, needed protection from persons who were chopping them down under the cloak of darkness.
“I want to say to those persons who continue to cut down the mahogany trees, first thing it is against the law under The Tree Preservation Act, and secondly, you are destroying our natural biodiversity…. Unless we have a serious conversation about ecosystem management and biodiversity, then we will lose the fight in being able to resist the vagaries of climate change and natural disasters, which were on the [lips] of everyone prior to COVID-19. It is still a threat.
“And so, to those persons who continue to destroy and come in the middle of the night to cut down the trees we are saying this behaviour will not be tolerated by me as Minister nor this ministry,” he stated. The Environment Minister also implored residents to take ownership of the area and facilities when the park is completed.
Parliamentary Representative for the parish, Charles Griffith, thanked the Minister for bringing the Clean and Green initiative to ‘Pool Woods’, which prior to clean-up efforts by the NCC “had been in bush for more than 50 years”.
He added that the soon-to-be constructed park would not just benefit those already living in the community, but also those who will eventually be living adjacent to it in an area which has been allocated for housing development by the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Maintenance.
“I welcome this initiative in St. John because I keep saying St. John is rising and this is another example of what is rising within the constituency. I, too, would like to ask persons to make this [park] theirs; to take care of it because if we take care of this, it will take care of us too,” Mr. Griffith said.
Assistant Project Co-ordinator in the Biodiversity and Conservation Management Section of the Ministry of Environment, Rohan Payne, told those present that maintaining spaces like ‘Pool Woods’ was important not only for ecological reasons, but also for mental health.
“There are many studies that have shown that the existence of these green spaces, they really benefit the mental well-being of the average individual. In times like this, when COVID anxiety and pandemic related mental stresses are so prevalent, it is important that we have programmes like this in the Ministry that don’t just speak to the science, but that also speak to the benefits to the average Barbadian,” he said.