Jamaica News: Science Officer at the Montego Bay Marine Park, Chris May, is imploring residents of the city to desist from using wetland areas as dumping sites for solid waste.
The appeal comes in light of the Marine Park’s removal of nearly 1,200 pounds of garbage from mangroves along Howard Cooke Boulevard and the Freeport main road on World Wetlands Day, February 2.
Mr. May said that wetlands are critical in helping to prevent flooding by temporarily storing and slowly releasing storm water and serving as breeding and feeding grounds for many plants and animals that are vital to a healthy environment.
“They prevent flooding by holding water much like a sponge. However, much of these areas in Montego Bay… regrettably, are oftentimes used as dumping sites,” he noted.
He noted that garbage that is thrown into the wetland areas, eventually end up in drains, causing blocking and clogging, which results in flooding.
He pointed to the frequent flooding in the town of Montego Bay, which he said, can be directly attributed to drains being blocked with plastic and other debris.
He warned that more flooding will occur if people continue to dump garbage in wetlands.
“The pollution can be stopped. We have to make up our minds to do it, because it will come back to haunt us,” Mr. May said.
The World Wetlands Day clean-up exercise was undertaken in collaboration with Sandals Resorts International, and attracted participation from a number of schools as well as other corporate entities.
“The areas that we targeted were part of the last bit of mangrove forest left in Montego Bay, which the Montego Bay Marine Park has been working to preserve,” Mr. May told JIS News.
“Last year, we commemorated World Wetlands Day by replanting mangroves in the Freeport area and this year, we wanted to focus our attention on reducing pollution at (Howard Cooke Boulevard) because despite the ‘NO DUMPING’ sign, many people still dump garbage here,” he noted.
“We are quite happy for the plastic ban that was implemented by the Government, and we expect that it will reduce pollution in a big way. We are also happy that more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of wetlands to our environment,” he added.
For her part, Environment, Health and Safety Manager at Sandals Royal Caribbean, Selois Archer, said her organisation will continue to be a part of “anything it takes to protect the environment.”
“Sandals is a company that depends on sun, sea and sand. It is important to us that our team members are involved in activities that safeguard our natural resources. This initiative mirrors our commitment to preserve our environment, and our company remains committed to working alongside any individual or organisation that is so like-minded,” she pointed out.
“We will be here again next year, and we will continue to spearhead other educational awareness programmes and activities to mark important global environment days,” she added.
First observed in 1997, World Wetlands Day invites Government agencies, non-government organisations and community groups to undertake actions to raise public awareness about the importance of wetlands and promote the conservation and wise use of the natural resource.
Source: JIS News