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phone number: (758)468-5649/5645/5648/5635

Monday, November 5, 2012

What’s in your Calabash? Jounen Kwéyòl Celebrations!

Article  by Jeanette Victor (Forestry Department)
St. Lucia Boa constrictor
Brazilian Agouti

Calabash plates

 Hey folks, it’s Jounen Kwéyòl! Creole day once again. At this time of year we make it our duty to travel across the island in search of exotic meats and food. Oh what a day we look forward to!
Just sitting here and thinking of all those tasty treats makes my mouth water. We often savor and enjoy, breadfruit and saltfish, farine and pear, smoked herring, roast bakes, red beans with pigtail and dumplings among other things. Some person’s palate is more daring and would sample rabbit, manicou (opossum) and even agouti. Hmmm tasty exotic meats!

I am sure that while we’re enjoying these exotic meats the furthest thing from our minds would be how they were acquired in the first place and the possible implications. For instance we have heard of persons putting poisonous chemicals in our rivers to catch large amounts of crayfish to the detriment of humans. Some animals are illegally hunted sometimes in the case of the agouti which is protected by St. Lucia’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1980 which states in Section 6 and I quote: “Wildlife, resident or migratory, indigenous or alien, found in St. Lucia, except fish, frogs or crustaceans in private ponds, are the property of the Crown and may be taken or hunted ONLY at such times and in such places and in such manner as provided by this Act”. So therefore, anyone who does contrary to what was previously stated is in breach of the Wildlife Protection Act.

It is therefore an offence to hunt and take protected Wildlife, their eggs or young and damage their nests and also to hunt and take partially protected wildlife during the close season. Anyone not possessing a license shall not offer for sale or purchase protected or partially protected wildlife during the close season and should not attempt to import or export wildlife into St. Lucia. Any person found guilty of this offense will be liable to a fine of EC $5000.00 or twelve (12) months imprisonment.

Some of the protected wildlife include: agouti, red necked pigeons (ramier), chicken hawks, herons, Boa constrictor (tete chien) etc. some of which are caught and sold during Jounen Kwéyòl celebrations. While we move from community to community enjoying ourselves please be mindful and be guided by what you’ve learnt and don’t encourage others to destroy our natural environment. If we are to protect Saint Lucia’s natural resources and the wildlife that live within our shores we must all play our part to see that the nation’s laws are enforced. If we destroy our natural environment on which we depend then ultimately we are destroying ourselves.
Remember mém batón ki bat chien noué e kye vié pou bat chien blanc (the same stick that beat the black dog will be back to beat the white dog).

Bon féte Kwéyòl!
For further information please contact the Forestry Department at 468-5645. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Can Comfort Co-exist with Sustainability?

 Article by  Shandra St. Ville

 At the beginning of the century, Saint Lucians were more than content with the cool ocean breeze, the soft glow of a lamp, flambeau or candle light and even the enjoyment of a family gathering around the coal pot as they waited for their meals. Today, our lifestyles have changed immensely. Air conditioning, smart phones and the latest digital entertainment gadgets are very much a part of our lives. Can we really pursue a sustainable development pathway in this age of consumerism? Would this pursuit result in a drastic loss of comfort to our current life? Comfort and Sustainability are not mutually exclusive; we do not always have to choose one or the other. There are times when we may have to choose which is more of a priority for us but with advances in technology we can have both.

Human beings believe that comfort is a vital source for happy living. A good supply of energy can ensure a very comfortable lifestyle for many. Energy is needed so we can use our vehicles for transportation. Electricity allows us to enjoy the many appliances at our homes. However, we all agree that our use of energy at the national and personal level has not been the most efficient.  The impacts of this misuse can be felt on the environment as well as on our pockets. Today, we are surrounded by messages encouraging us to be more energy efficient and to make use of renewable energy when we can. Some of us are still having difficulty embracing these messages because we see it as a drastic change which may push us out of our comfort zone. However, the change may not be as torturous as we may imagine.

The practice of turning off equipment when not in use is not so difficult to adopt and close examination shows that it makes sense. Having the television, radio and video game all running at the same time does not guarantee that you are more thoroughly entertained. Indeed if you chose one and were able to concentrate on just that one then you would be able to get maximum value from that item. If we purchase products such as lamps, appliances and vehicles that use less energy to get the same benefit, we really have not done away with any of our benefits.

Having dealt with energy efficiency let us now consider the use of renewable energy. This may sound like a big leap but it really is not so daunting. Centuries ago our planet ran on renewable energy.  Our boats were powered by the wind and hydro power was very much a part of the sugar industry. Today many homes are already using renewable energy in the Caribbean. Solar water heaters have made this a reality, supplying hot water for a number of residential purposes including bathing, washing and cooking. Hot water is also a vital part of the operations of hospitals, laundries and a number of other industrial activities. Heating water using electricity can be faster but it is a costly undertaking and many persons are now seeing benefits in the use of solar water heaters. Barbados has been a forerunner in the use of solar water heaters in the Caribbean and studies show that over four thousand (4, 000) solar water units have been installed in the past 2 years.  On average, it is estimated that Barbados has saved more than US $6.5 million dollars annually that’s approximately EC $17.5 million dollars, all due to the use of solar water heaters. An assessment of solar heaters in Barbados has shown that the country saved one hundred and thirty thousand (130, 000) barrels of oil every year in addition to tax payers savings of two hundred and sixty million American dollars(US $260, 000, 000).  These data show some significant benefits in pursuing sustainability and at the same time retaining comfort.

The water sector is yet another area where sustainability measures do not have to result in the loss of comfort and convenience. Much of the water flowing from our taps and showers are not actually used for the purposes we intended. The use of measures like low flow head showers will allow us of take a shower as often as we would like without wasting too much water. Many persons are happy to have a healthy lawn surrounding their property. Maintaining the health of the lawn calls for watering on a regular basis. The water for watering does not have to be potable water but could be recycled water from the kitchen sink or water collected through rain harvesting. The same idea can be used for water for cleaning our vehicles. In fact, rainwater harvesting provides an opportunity for us to obtain water for a myriad of uses and simultaneously reduce our water bills.

Wise water and energy habits are just two examples of how sustainable development practices do not necessarily have to reduce on our comfort level but allow us to continue our daily activities whilst reducing spending.  Sound environmental management does not contradict economic development or social development. Advances in Science and Technology can further improve our sustainable development and our level of comfort. For example, the appearances of solar water heaters are being refashioned to make them less conspicuous and more attractive to ensure that they fit into the architectural designs of modern homes. Water cisterns can be designed so that they are not so apparent or they are integrated with another component of the home. These are just some of the ways that we can effectively apply Science and Technology to promote sustainable development in our country.

Play your part and help protect “Mother Earth”, it is where we all live after all!

For more information, contact Ms. Shandra St. Ville of the Sustainable Development and Environment Division of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy and Science and Technology at 451-8746 or

Survey of Invasive Alien Plant Species on Gros Piton, Saint Lucia, 2012

Callisia frgrans

Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Friday, September 7, 2012


By: Department of Fisheries

The much anticipated lobster fishery started August 2nd 2012 and will run until the end of February 2013. It’s a time, when fishermen and locals alike seek the “Red Gold” from the blue waters around Saint Lucia.     
For the weeks leading up to the opening of the fishery local fishermen have been gearing up, building and repairing lobster pots in anticipation. Fishermen, hotels and restaurants look forward to the opening of the long awaited fishery since Caribbean spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus), are a favourite among tourists and a high priced fishery, which generates income fueling the local economy.

Caribbean spiny lobsters inhabit tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. This nocturnal species inhabits coral reefs where they hide during the day in crevices under ledges.  They grow to about 60 cm in length and lack the large pinching claws of their Maine lobster relatives. Their primary defense is the spines that cover their shell, which help protect them from predators.
These lobsters have a striped body, brown-gray in color with yellow spots on the segmented tail. They also have compound eyes which can detect orientation, form, light, and color. When startled, these lobsters will kick their large abdominal tails rapidly to swim away backwards to safety.

Throughout the lobster fishery, many hotels, restaurants and individual consumers purchase the lobster which the fishers bring in. Also, at the Dennery, Anse La Raye and Gros Islet fish frys venders cook Houma (lobster) in a variety of ways that excites our taste buds.

However, in addition to the preparations for the opening of the lobster fishery, all fishermen, purchasers and consumers are reminded of the regulations that must be followed to ensure there remains a productive supply of lobster for years to come. 

1.      Ensure you inspect the lobster before you land or purchase it. It must be released if it does not meet the regulations. 

2.      The lobster  must not be carrying eggs
3.      The lobster must not have a carapace length less than 9.5 (9 ½ ) cm
4.      The lobster should not have a soft shell and should not show evidence of being speared or hooked. A speared or hooked lobster would have a cracked shell or a hole in the shell.

While engaged in the lobster fishery, fishers should take the time to learn and comply with the governing regulations, because if found with illegal lobsters you can be fined up to EC $5,000.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Article by: The Department of Fisheries

What better way to encourage teachers to teach their students about the marine environment than getting under water! The Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and the Ministry of Education conducted a five-day training exercise for teachers, aimed at raising their awareness and understanding of the marine environment. Sixteen (16) primary school teachers, secondary school science teachers and social science teachers benefited from the training, which ended on February 24th 2012, but more was to come! Through the generous support of Scuba St. Lucia at Anse Chastnet Resort in Soufriere; the Sandals Dive Center and Sea Adventures Inc. in Gros Islet, the teachers were treated with the opportunity to do “Discover SCUBA” or to engage in SNUBA.

 The teachers who took the plunge for Discover SCUBA diving got an introduction on how to use SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) and those who opted to do SNUBA bridged the gap between snorkeling and SCUBA. They all got the opportunity to breathe underwater and get face-to-face with some of the most beautiful marine life in the underwater world.

After the training and first-hand experience of the marine life underwater, the teachers will be more enthusiastic and equipped to develop lessons that include a variety of interactive activities to engage their students on the importance of the marine environment.  

Here’s to new and exciting learning experiences!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ozone Depletion; Losing Earth’s Protective Layer

Article by: Nicole La Force, Forestry Department

A lot is being said about climate change and global warming and persons are becoming more conscientious about environmental protection, for which I am happy. It occurred to me that as a beautiful nature isle, one of the things we “sell” as a tourist destination is “sun”. Generally we are blessed with beautiful weather, thanks to our geographical location on the globe. Granted, climate change and global warming can mess all that up since more extreme weather is part and parcel of these phenomena.

 So what about earth’s ozone layer? It’s that protective gaseous shield blue in color that sits 15 to 30 km above earth or in earth’s stratosphere. It’s made up of a highly reactive three oxygen molecule and serves as a protection by filtering out the harmful ultraviolet B radiation (UV- B) emitted by the sun which harms living cells causing skin cancer and cataracts in humans and harm animals as well.

The main culprits causing ozone depletion are pollutants containing chlorine and bromine. In the last 50 years chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were highly used in aerosol sprays, freezers, refrigerators and AC units. When CFCs reach the upper atmosphere, they are exposed to ultraviolet rays, which cause them to break down into substances that include chlorine. The chlorine reacts with the oxygen atoms in ozone and rips apart the ozone molecule thereby precipitating global warming and allowing greater quantities of UV- rays to reach us.

 I am happy to say that CFCs have been phased out and that since 2008 St. Lucia has ceased importation of goods which contain CFCs. In fact the use of CFCs has been banned in many countries throughout North America and the European Union. A prerequisite of the Montreal Protocol being that all CFCs should be phased out by 2010. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion.

 However, the problems of ozone depletion persist. Currently used refrigerants, HCFCs for instance; which are a mixture of hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine and carbon, though having a shorter life when exposed to the atmosphere, resulting in less potential damage to the ozone, still cause environmental concerns if they leak into the atmosphere because they are considered greenhouse gases and may contribute to climate change.

The ozone has been depleted in many areas especially in the Antarctic since the mid-1980’s. This region’s low temperatures speed up the conversion of CFCs to chlorine which reacts with the ozone, destroying it. It is estimated that about 65% of ozone depletion has taken place over the Antarctic. As world-wide controls reduce the release of CFCs and other ozone-eating substances, nature will repair the ozone layer. Thank God! It is expected that by the year 2065 stratospheric ozone should return to the amount that was present in 1980 when there was less depletion. It is important that we protect ourselves from the ill effects of harmful ultraviolet rays especially between the peak hours of 10 am to 4pm when the sun’s intensity is at its highest.

 Most of us melanin rich St. Lucians don’t think there’s need for protecting ourselves from the sun. That my friend is a misconception; though we may not burn as quickly as our fairer friends we are exposed to the same risk of getting skin cancer especially if we have sensitive skin. So folks, wear your brimmed hats and sunshades, stay out of the sun especially at peak hours, wear your sunblock, SPF 15 or higher, cover yourselves from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and don’t forget to buy ozone friendly products. For further information please check out:


The annual, Fisherfolk Day commonly referred to as “Fishermen’s Feast” is celebrated on June 29 in Saint Lucia. Fisherfolk Day usually coincides with the feast of St. Peter, the Patron Saint of Fishers. The theme for the Caribbean Fisherfolk Day 2012 is “The Role of Women in the Fisheries Sector”.

 While globally women’s involvement in fishing (the harvest sector) maybe viewed as minimal, fisheries involves much more than just fishing and “men’s work”. Recent investigations at a global level have shown that if ancillary activities in the fishing industry are taken into account, then the gendered image is quite different. Women may be in the majority within the fishing industry, with a growing number of women engaged worldwide in fisheries policy, management, science, fish product development, education, civil society advocacy, enforcement and other activities related to fisheries. Moreover, as managers, wives, community members and co-workers, they provide an important impact to the fisheries related livelihoods in the world, including the Caribbean.

 In observance of Fisherfolk Day, the Department of Fisheries will highlight women’s involvement in the fishing industry in Saint Lucia through a career showcase displaying the social and economic achievements of women in the fishing industry from supportive roles of women in fishing households, fishing, processing, vending, ownership of fishing boats to small businesses, extension services and management of the fisheries sector.

The career showcase will take place on two days: Tuesday June 26, 2012 at the Department of Fisheries, Castries Office and Thursday, June 28, 2012 at the Vieux Fort Office from 9am to 3pm each day. You are invited to attend and learn about the fisheries sector and possible employment opportunities.

Monday, June 11, 2012

World Environment day 2012

By Nicole La Force
Yep! Another June 5th is here and that means it is World Environment Day. This year’s theme is Green Economy: Does it include you? What exactly does that mean? Both aspects have to be considered, that of the green economy and how you as an individual fit into all of this.

Green economy simply put is an economy whose growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Of course the ideal would be for sustainable management of all bio-resources which would ensure perpetuity while simultaneously achieving socio-economic success. In that case all would be happy. Man would be employed and productive so poverty would be minimal or non-existent while biodiversity would be conserved and preserved ensuring a healthy balanced environment. Of course like I previously said that’s the ideal, this would happen in a perfect world. The world not being perfect, does this mean that human kind must just give up or allow a selected few to do as they please to the detriment of others without being held accountable? Of course not!

I am of the opinion that these commemorative days like; World Environment day, World Forest Day, World Earth day and the many others, are there to help us take stock of our actions, allowing us to reflect and chart a better way forward and unifying us towards a greater good. It would be sad to think that we have become desensitized and think “oh it’s another one of those commemorative days, so what!” St. Lucia as a small island developing state is among the most vulnerable to global issues such as climate change and the fact that we rely so heavily on tourism it is imperative that we strike a balance between economic development and biodiversity conservation. It is our responsibility.

This year’s theme, Green Economy: Does it include you?  Seeks to do just that, after all the planet belongs to all of us and so does it’s resources, it’s a common heritage. We all need to get a piece of the pie as citizens of this earth. The green economy is described as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It cannot be business as usual. Policy support for investing in green sectors and in greening environmental unfriendly sectors is necessary if the green economy initiative is to be successful.

I hope I have given you the readers some food for thought and remember to do something to protect your environment. There is so much which can be done. Reduce your waste (reduce, reuse, recycle) just by using an eco-friendly shopping bag when you do your groceries. Plant a tree. Don’t litter. Join an environmental club which is proactive and do lots of environmentally friendly activities and there are lots out there.

The thing is to get involved. Happy Environment Day to all! It should not just be a June 5th thing but a lifestyle. Be an agent for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

New birds flying in the Union Interpretive Centre

Photographed & written by Te-Hsin Tsai
Taiwan ICDF Volunteer in the Forestry Department
        The Forestry Department invited students from the Sir Ira Simmons Secondary School joined with environmental education project to design and make bird models for the Union Mini Zoo Interpretation Centre. The duration of this project was 10 weeks from January to March 2012. During this time students from the environmental club and visual art class not only made bird models but were exposed to different environmental issues, such as climate change, water conservation concepts, and natural knowledge of birds and the forest. As a result, the students are now appreciative of the natural environment.

        Both teachers and students from the Sir Ira Simmons Secondary School mentioned that making 3D bird models was very challenging but interesting. During the making process, students studied the pictures and information on birds to get proper descriptive features on the models and understand their habitual behavior.

        To highlight the student’s achievements, the Forestry Department held a grand ceremony at the Union interpretive Centre last month. On this warm and joyful occasion, students handed over their masterpieces and displayed them together with the officers in the centre for everyone’s enjoyment.

        This Environmental Education Activity was a joint venture with the program director from Caribbean Student Environmental Alliance (Caribbean SEA) and the volunteers from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), US Peace Corps and Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (Taiwan ICDF). From January to March 2012, these project partners together with Forest officers have been working closely together with these students.

        The Forestry Department would like to thank the students, teachers and working partners who invested a lot of time and effort towards the completion of this project. Moreover, the Department welcomes visitors to the Union Interpretive Centre any working day from 8am to 4pm to enjoy the students’ creative arts. Through these and other activities the Forestry Department continues to meet the challenge of educating the public of the need for the conservation and sustainable management of our country’s natural resources.

New idea? New Project?

If you have any good ideas about environmental education, please contact The Forestry Department EE Unit at 468-5645/8. Your brilliant idea might be the next great environmental education project!

Sharing Nature; a tour guide’s experience

Article by Christele Albert
Photos © Te-Hsin Tsai

Hi, I am Christele and I have been a tour guide for over 14 years attached to the Forestry Department and I can say it has been a great experience; especially since I have the opportunity of meeting new people every day and interacting with them. Being a tour guide is fun for I have learnt a lot like speaking different languages such as German, French and a little Spanish.

 As a tour guide, walking through the Tropical rainforest makes me feel contented. I have the privilege on enjoying the sounds of the different birds like Bullfinches, Banana quits, Grackles , Zanaida doves and others. Also, the fresh cool breeze is very rejuvenating along with the spectacular fragrances coming from the different  trees such as Gomier, Lansan and  Caribbean pines just to mention a few.

I love my job, it’s the bomb as some would say because it doesn’t just entail walking the forest trail but also the selling of souvenirs to visitors for them to take back home; example bird cards, posters, post cards and lots more. I am happy to think that they are taking a piece of St. Lucia back home with them and attached to these souvenirs are fond memories of which I am a part.

 There is also an interpretation center where one can find good information where also many schools would come to view puppet shows on the many environmental issues we are challenged with today.This includes all types of schools; pre-schools, primary, secondary, and colleges.  There at the Forestry Department you can find a beautiful dry forest along with the Medicinal Garden and amazingly the only zoo found in St Lucia where one has an opportunity to see the national bird of St Lucia (Amazona versicolor) and some exotic animals like the Macaw parrots, green monkeys and more.

I am elated to have shared my experience with you and I hope to continue sharing the beauty of nature with all those who visit. Don’t forget when you visit the forest to take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time.

Lansan (incense), a possible lucrative Industry

Article By: Nicole La Force
Lansan or incense (Protium attenuatum) is and was a highly prized commodity and has long been used in our society; in blessing, as an insect repellant and even for medicinal purposes as in the relief of sinus congestion and arthritis.
Unfortunately lansan is being illegally harvested and as many of the harvesters are opportunistic their manner of harvesting is such that causes severe to fatal injury to the trees. Often times the trees back is indiscriminately slashed and this so far has caused death of hundreds of trees. Sustainable Management of this flagship species is therefore necessary.

Lansan is endemic to the Lesser Antilles and is found in Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and has been heavily depleted and is believed to be under threat.  In fact it appears that St. Lucia has the largest remaining population of lansan in the Lesser Antilles. A survey is soon to be carried out to determine its IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) status.

 An experiment was carried out to determine the best method of harvesting which would produce increased yields while minimizing any detrimental effects to the trees. A series of 7 different cuts were made where some were sprayed with a 5 % concentration of sulphuric acid and others not. Four diametric classes were used from 15 cm to >30cm. The experiment sites were Barre de L’isle and Chassin. Lansan was collected every two weeks and new cuts were made at that time no deeper than the cambium layer.

Funding for this project was provided by Flora and Fauna International, in collaboration with the Global Tree Campaign and The Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Forestry.

 This is done with the aim of protecting the species from extinction while continuing to provide a sustainable livelihood activity. This project began in 2009 and it is hoped that with further studies and continued conclusive data a sustainable harvesting method will be adopted by all harvesters ensuring that everyone gets piece of the pie now and in the future. 

The preliminary results of the lansan project are as follows:
¨ There’s increased production of  resin (lansan) when sulphuric acid is added to the cuts.

¨ The effects of the sulphuric acid on tree health and growth is yet to be determined, though there does not seem to be any negative effects thus far.

¨ The effects of the sulphuric acid on human health is not known.

¨ Recommendations were made for testing of the lansan to determine it’s quality although feed back received from various priests who have used some of the lansan harvested are reported as saying the quality is very good and even better than some imported lansan which they occasionally use.

Market and consumer research is currently ongoing via surveys of market vendors who sell lansan.

Now the cooperation of harvesters, buyers, traders and law enforcement officers is needed for the success and continuity of an organized co- managed industry.