Rotaract youths engage in mangrove rehab

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Smiles from Rotaract members after cleansing the mangrove of tires, discarded appliances, to allow it to breathe and engage in carbon capture. PHOTO BY YVONNE WEBB –

IT is no secret, the enormous capacity mangroves have for sponging up carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, and the importance of them to survive climate changes.

Members of the Rotaract Clubs of San Fernando and San Fernando – South have been concerned about the reason mangroves are dying.

They grasped the opportunity provided by Advisors Next Door to embark on an environmentally sustainable project and create a lasting impact on the community.

In their bid to do their part to protect the environment, these young people engaged in a mangrove rehabilitation project at Soogrim Street, Gulf View, on Saturday morning.

Within two-hours, the 120 bags they brought with them were filled to capacity with garbage collected from approximately one mile of shoreline – plastics, tyres, household appliances, mattresses, and pieces of cloth wrapped around the mangroves, stunting its growth and capacity to capture the carbon emissions.

Mikayla Johnson, disaster preparedness officer, Rotaract, San Fernando, said machinery would be required to remove barrels and other objects trapped deep within the shoreline.

She explained, “We are looking at long-term benefits of mangrove rehabilitation. Cleaning the mangrove is the first of three steps we have undertaken.”

She said the group intended to return in July with a bigger team as the area is one in which the San Fernando City Corporation had an interest in rehabilitating as it provides a habitat for wildlife.

Rotaractor Zoe Webb said the site was chosen because its mangrove was accessible by foot and convenient for cleaning.

“It is uncommon to find this type of mangrove where people can actually walk though and pick up trash, unlike most mangroves in TT where access is gained by boat.

“In addition, this is within our community of San Fernando and has an unnaturally high population of marine and other wild life, including scarlet ibis, egrets, turtles, caimans and oyster spats.”

Crystal Mohammed, assistant district Rotaract representative for both San Fernando and San Fernando-South said the aim was to create a clean environment because of the contribution of the mangrove.

“This is phase one of the mangrove rehabilitation. The SFCC was not part of this phase but we are going to engage it eventually”

For this phase, Mohammed said, “Repsol Ltd gave us the financial capability to execute. We would have partnered with Advisors Next Door, who basically led us to this initiative.”

The garbage was removed, at no cost, by Central Equipment Rentals Ltd, another one of Rotaract’s partners.

“We really want to be able to clean up the mangrove so we can go on to phase two, which is the testing of the soil to determine what is causing the mangroves to die and then engage in mangrove replanting.

“We hope that by doing so, we will be able to increase the number of mangroves in the areas as part of our effort to fight climate change because mangroves really play a large role in carbon capture.”

Jerdiah Boodoo, president of Rotaract, San Fernando made a sterling appeal to people to stop littering.

Caring about the environment like he does, he said, it was a heart-breaking experience for him to see how mangroves were being reduced by human activities.