On Friday, 17th September 2021, the Saint Lucia National Trust, in partnership with the Department of Forestry and the National Conservation Authority, undertook to eradicate an invasive plant species commonly known as “Beach Lettuce”, which was observed on Sandy Beach, Vieux Fort.
This non-native plant from Indo-Pacific origins is a cause for concern, as it is able to spread and quickly occupy large areas of coastline, pushing away native vegetation if left unchecked. It is usually planted around hotels for use in landscaping, but has since become invasive as the saltwater tolerant seeds float and travel with the tides allowing it to colonize areas where seeds are deposited.
Given that this eradication exercise took place one day before International Coastal Cleanup Day, commemorated annually on September 18th 2021, the agencies in addition to the eradication, took the opportunity to also include a coastal cleanup component as part of the exercise. The most numerous of which were single use plastic bottles, plastic utensils, and other assorted macro-plastics.
This further highlights the need to reduce plastic usage within the nation. Other litter commonly found was fast food boxes, cups, straws, and napkins.
The joint initiative between the Saint Lucia National Trust, Department of Forestry and the National Conservation Authority is yet another exercise in partnership between the two entities as they both support the responsibility and mandate in protecting the environment of Saint Lucia.