The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries is hoping to mobilize an entire generation for wetland restoration.
In commemoration of World Wetlands Day, which is celebrated on February 2nd, the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries (MALF) has embarked on a series of public awareness campaigns to sensitize citizens on the importance and wise use of our wetlands. To capitalize on the 2023 theme, “Time for Wetland Restoration”, the Ministry launched a youth-centric outreach campaign which culminated with the execution of a wetlands colouring competition hosted by the Forestry Division as part of its school outreach programme.
Whilst addressing the competition’s prize-giving ceremony at the Caroni Swamp Visitors’ Centre this morning, Minister of Agriculture Land and Fisheries, Senator the Honourable Kazim Hosein, called on citizens to rethink how their actions may impact the environment, urging them to take action. In his encouragement to citizens, he said: “Make conscientious choices in order to minimize your impact. Use water sparingly and not dump rubbish into our wetlands. Use persuasive voices to educate and activate others to get involved in wetland restoration and take bold actions in your local wetland restoration efforts.”
While addressing the crowd of students, the Minister stated, “Healthy wetlands also provide a long list of benefits for our communities, including buffering coastal areas from storms, absorbing carbon dioxide, and acting as filtering systems for freshwater.”
Minister Hosein urged citizens to visit the nation’s wetlands to witness its majestic beauty “Locally, there are three designated Wetlands of International Importance or Ramsar Sites with a total surface area of an estimated 15,919 hectares. These are the Caroni Swamp, Buccoo Reef / Bon Accord Lagoon Complex and Nariva Swamp.”
Also speaking at the event was the Acting Permanent Secretary (MALF), Ms. Coomarie Goolabsingh who underscored the importance of youth engagement in the sustainable conservation of our nation’s wetlands. On this note, she said: “Through the students’ active participation in an activity geared towards the heightened sensitization of the importance of our wetlands, we are, quite subtly, apprising them (young people) of the future role they too must play in the sustenance of life – not just for us, our animals and even our plant life today – but most importantly – for our future generations.”
A number of schools participated in the Forestry Division’s wetlands colouring competition which highlighted the importance of wetlands preservation. These included: Valencia South Government Primary School; Guaracara Hindu Primary School; Moruga (Holy Trinity) A.C. Primary School; Freeport Presbyterian Primary School; Orange Field Hindu Primary School as well as Couva East Secondary School.
Following the prize-giving ceremony, Minister Hosein presented all the schools with a special treat when he announced that all competition participants would receive complimentary passes to the Emperor Valley Zoo in Port of Spain, committing to attend the exercise with them, once his schedule permitted.
To find out more about the Ministry’s wetland restoration programmes and initiatives, please visit agriculture.gov.tt