Eeunit bulletin september october 2010


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Eeunit bulletin september october 2010

  1. 1. DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY SEPT/OCT 2010 ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION UNIT BULLETIN What’s been going on ? Phone: 468-5648/5 E-mail your suggestions/ ideas to: Done by: Nicole La Force Most persons have a phobia of snakes and would avoid them at any cost. Sep- tember past, an interesting thing happened which had most persons at the for- estry Complex buzzing. A boa (Boa constrictor) in a sack was delivered to Forestry for George to do the usual; which is to let it loose on the Forestiere trail. Boas are harmless right?! Well all I can advise is, never push your hand in a bag which may con- tain a snake, harmless or not. To Georgie’s surprise on throwing the snake out of the bag a big poisonous Fer de Lance (Bothrops caribbaeus) fell out. In his own words “ Garçon I got cold. My body changed and I grabbed the biggest piece of stick I could find and beat it on its head about four times”. I could well imagine the goose bumps! The snake was brought back to the Forestry Complex where staff converged to see this 6' 2" poisonous reptile. But how did this snake get there in the first place? Apparently a Mon Repos resident found the snake near his home. After clowning around and showing off his skills with the snake to his friends he bagged it and brought it to the chief forest officer, who happens to be a resident of the area. Someone could have gotten seriously hurt. We’re still not sure if the Mon Repos resident recognized the snake to be poisonous. On contacting the chief forest officer he was instructed to kill the snake if it’s a Fer de Lance and if it’s a Boa then bag it. He bagged it, so we’re concluding that he didn’t know. According to a survey done just last year on reptiles by Dr. Jenny Daltry, the Fer de Lance is now classed as a vulnerable species which means it is threat- ened with extinction. Too many have been killed for fear of being bitten. There is now a need for sensitization and public awareness. Persons need to know how to differentiate between the Boa and the Fer de Lance and also know how to respond should they encounter a Fer de Lance or any snake for that matter. Though the snake is not often seen as desirous, we must remember that they are part of our biodiversity and they too need protection from extinction. We have to find ways to co-exist with all God’s creatures. Right?! Forestry staff looking on Mon Repos man posing with snake 6 ft 2 inch / 1.82 m Fer de Lance Surprise Snake!!
  2. 2. DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY SEPT/OCT 2010 ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION UNIT BULLETIN What’s been going on ? Phone: 468-5648/5 E-mail your suggestions/ ideas to: Done by: Nicole La Force The latanye palm (Coccothrinox barbadensis) used to make our local broom , which not so long ago was under threat of extinction due to over harvesting in the wild, seems to have received another major blow. The largest and most productive latanye plantation (2.5 acres) on the island is suffering serious mortality. From what has been ob- served about 40 to 50 per cent. That’s huge! The plantation is ap- proximately 8 to 10 years and is owned by Kenrick Aurilien of Dennery . Local plant pathologist have collected samples in the hope of identifying the cul- prit which is destroying the palm. The symptoms thus far are yellowing of the leaves (chlorosis) to cutting of the leaves, stunted growth and ultimately complete leaf destruction. All that’s left is a leafless dying stem. From preliminary investigations an insect is sus- pected which may be eating away at the growing points (meristems) of the plant. Trappings and collection of surrounding leaf litter is soon to be done to assist in the identification of the pest. An agricultural officer for the area commented that some coconut palms in the area seem also to be affected. This is terrible news for the broom industry! At this point we are hoping that this is a localized occurrence. The use of a systemic insecticide (neem based) and proper cultural practices to reduce the insect population is recommended at this time. Forestry’s floral research staff collaborating with Ministry of Agriculture’s research unit staff is working expediently in resolving this matter. It is hoped that this will happen sooner and not later. Cliché I know but you get the point. We are hoping for the best. We need to fight to keep this budding industry alive and well, helping secure the livelihood of our people. Latanye palm being cut open for further inspection Chlorosis observed on latanye leaves Affected latanye palm Local broom made form latanye Making of local broom Latanye Palm under Threat!
  3. 3. DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY SEPT/OCT 2010 ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION UNIT BULLETIN What’s been going on ? On 29th September, the Biodiversity Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry & Fisheries held a Biodiver- sity Expo in the William Peter Boulevard. This was a one-day activity with the aim of showing people the importance of the country’s biodiversity. The themes in recognition of the year of biodiversity 2010 are “Biodiversity is life, Biodiversity is our life” and “Biodiversity for Development and Poverty Alleviation”. At this event, people were able to get information from each booth and from power point presentations from different de- partments. In the Environmental Education Unit’s booth, there were three kinds of animals, (Agouti, Iyanola, Boa Con- strictor) and plant, wood and seed samples. In addition, we had a small section for donations and the sale of popcorn to raise money. During this time, people were first very curious about the animals. Students were saying that the Agoutis are cute and an elderly lady was scared of the Boa Constrictor. She said she could not even watch it by herself. People who have cameras or cell phone cameras were taking pictures of the animals. On the other side of the booth, some people were also interested in the plants. Staff members and volunteers were intro- ducing those species to visitors. Sometimes visitors also gave some feedback as they also knew some of the species. Some older persons were saying that they have seen those plants when they were little but now are rare. Visitors were from everywhere, locals and foreigners. Some teachers brought their students to see and learn new things. Parents with their children were seeing the animals. People enjoyed and yearned for more knowledge on biodiversity. For them, Biodiversity Expo was not only educational but also a fun event. Article and Photos By Te-Hsin Tsai (Grace) Applause for the Biodiversity Expo 2010!! Students enjoying the animal introduction Having fun with Iyanola Japanese and Taiwanese volunteers selling popcorn
  4. 4. DEPARTMENT OF FORESTRY SEPT/OCT 2010 ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION UNIT BULLETIN What’s been going on ? Phone: 468-5648/5 E-mail your suggestions/ ideas to: Done by: Nicole La Force The Forestry Department employs eight (8) tour guides who make visiting our trails more pleasurable. Impart- ing knowledge, cracking a joke or two for a good laugh. We appreciate the job that they do and often times they may be overlooked. At the request of one such tour guide (Marvin Edwards) a visit to “Skyrides” was or- ganized. This presented and opportunity for the tour guides to enjoy themselves in a different setting and also to ob- serve and learn from their counter parts. It was quite fun if I say so myself. It was the first time that many of us rode the trams over 130 ft from the ground, over the forest canopy. It was simply amazing. The views were stunning, the bird song much appreci- ated and the knowledge of the guides quite rich. There was friendly banter and a great interchange of knowledge between Forestry’s tour guides and those of the “Skyrides” establishment. The area is beautiful and boast not only great natural scenery but up to date well maintained amenities. There was even steel pan music to enliven the atmosphere and of course a souvenir shop, drinks and food area etc. I can see why they are such steep competition. Even the warning signs along the trail seemed cute to me; something we can implement on our trails. It is our hope that an activity can be organized quarterly to boost the morale of our tour guides as well as pro- viding an opportunity to show them our appreciation. If you have any ideas, don’t be shy in sharing. Thank you our Forestry Tour Guides!!Thank you our Forestry Tour Guides!!Thank you our Forestry Tour Guides!!Thank you our Forestry Tour Guides!! Learning and Fun for Forestry Tour Guides ! Stunning Views Forestry Guides & friends Soothing steel pan