Following the successful tree planting exercise at the Ma Kôté Mangrove conducted by the Forestry Department in collaboration with the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) on World Wetlands Day on February 2, 2022, the SLNT planted a further one thousand red mangrove plants at the Ma Kôté Mangrove on February 26, 2022. The SLNT collaborated with Heineken Saint Lucia Ltd, the GEF Southeast Coast project, the Forestry Department, SLNT members and other volunteers in this continued effort to rehabilitate the largest mangrove in the OECS.
A severe case of mangrove dieback was first observed in 2015 and recent images obtained from drone flights conducted by the SLNT in October 2021, showed that the area of dieback has increased significantly. Through the “Increasing the climate change resilience and public awareness of the Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area and Pigeon Island National Landmark ecosystems” project funded by the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF)” and with additional funding from Flora and Fauna International (FFI), the SLNT propagated over 1000 mangrove plants from the four species found at Ma Kôté, within the aim of conducting restoration work at the Ma Kôté mangrove.
Prior to beginning with the replanting exercise and in order to find out the cause of the dieback and to assess the general health of the mangrove forest, the SLNT contracted the services of the Institute of Marine Affairs in August 2021, to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the Ma Kôté Mangrove. This assessment forms part of the aforementioned project and the preliminary results are being used to guide the locations for the replanting, to ensure successful regrowth of this mangrove forest.
The Ma Kôté Mangrove is an important national asset, as it provides livelihoods, sustains the vital fisheries sector, protects our Southeast coast from the impact of extreme weather events and forms a significant part of Saint Lucia’s natural heritage. It is imperative that it be restored and the SLNT expresses gratitude to Heineken Saint Lucia Ltd, the GEF Southeast Coast project, the Forestry Department, SLNT members and all other volunteers for their pledge of participation and support for this important activity.