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Earth Day 2022 – Mangrove Makeover in the OECS

Flooding is a major problem in many low-lying communities in OECS Member States, especially during the hurricane season. This has been a perennial problem for the village of Anse la Raye in Saint Lucia.

In 2018, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and CCRIF SPC partnered with the Anse la Raye Disaster Committee to design and implement a community-based intervention to sustainably manage the Anse la Raye mangrove, reduce the flood risk and enhance local livelihoods. In 2021, the OECS and the German Development Agency, GIZ, through the Human Mobility in the Context of Climate Change Project, continued the work of mangrove restoration and the clearing of debris in the area.

These projects have thus far contributed to reduced flooding in the village. Speaking during a Project site visit, Anse la Raye Community Activist Reeves Lawrence said:

“During the passage of [Hurricane] Elsa in 2021, that was one of the concerns we had, but when we came down to the village in the aftermath, we were told that there had been absolutely no flooding in the community, and we know that this was a direct result of improved management of the mangrove.”

The OECS is currently supporting the Ministry of Tourism in exploring the possibility of building on this initiative by way of linking it to village tourism initiatives and livelihood opportunities in the community.

“We are looking at the possibility of having some kind of attraction that can draw nature lovers, both local and visiting. So the idea of the walkway, for example, and an interpretive aspect to that attraction is an idea that has come up, and we’re currently in the process of exploring this, because if people can come in, and for example take a cool walk along the walkway, enjoy the flora and fauna, and gain a better understanding of the importance of the mangrove to the community and to the other surrounding ecosystems, we think that will help to enhance the value or the perceived value of such ecosystems, not just in the community, but across the island, and hopefully beyond.” – Crispin d’Auvergne, Programme Director, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, OECS –

Discussions have been initiated with a consultant who will explore options for developing the mangrove as an eco-attraction for visitors to the island, birdwatchers, and Saint Lucians in general. The intention is not to cut any trees, but rather, to “work with” the mangrove and to create an environment where people, the birds, the fish, can coexist.

Successful development of the area as an attraction will not only create an opportunity for recreation and relaxation but also assist in educating people about the value of the environment, including creating opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.

The OECS yesterday joined the rest of the world in recognising Earth Day 2022 under the theme, Investing in Our Planet. The Anse la Raye initiative is a proven practice of how such investments reap sustainable dividends for people in vulnerable communities across Small Island Developing States.

“For Earth Day 2022, we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.” www.earthday.org

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