Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Adrian Forde, plans to “hit the ground running”, as he takes up his new portfolio.
His first order of business will be to put measures in place to mitigate against the threats of global warming and climate change.
In a recent interview with the Barbados Government Information Service, Mr. Forde outlined some of the areas he would be focusing on in his new role. One of these will be to “fill out” the country’s biodiversity product.
“Biodiversity is the buzz word around the world when we talk about the anomalies of climate change and global warming. We can consider plant biodiversity or animal biodiversity. In terms of plant diversity, that is why the Prime Minister started a drive to plant a million trees across Barbados, not only for beautification purposes but for us to be able to reduce our carbon footprint.
“Each tree is able to sequester 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. A million trees invariably will equate to 48 million pounds of carbon dioxide. This world has seen a four millimetre increase in our sea level. If we continue emitting these harmful gases, in the next 50 years we will face the devastation of our beaches, and by extension, our tourism product,” he stated.
Minister Forde said part of this biodiversity would include continuing to protect the natural habitat of marine life, including the Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles, which nest on local beaches.
He pointed out that these turtles had a symbiotic relationship with the sea and served an important role to the “nutritional value” of the local marine system.
Another area he plans to address immediately is the matter of proper waste disposal.
To this end, Mr. Forde revealed that he would be launching a public campaign to educate communities on correct garbage disposal methods, as well as on recycling and composting.
He said the programme would educate Barbadians on how to separate “that which is garbage and that which can be recycled for profit”.
The Environment Minister disclosed that there are also plans to remove unsightly skips in communities across Barbados, which are havens for vermin, and to create “refuse hubs”, where enclosed skips will be used as alternatives and the area around them beautified.
“It is my determination that this country must not only be clean, but must also be beautiful. So, we intend to hit the road running as it relates to not only greening this country, but making this country beautiful. To that extent, it is my vision and my plan to start a sensitisation programme across the board, where recycling becomes [the norm] and garbage separation becomes the order of the day.”
Minister Forde warned that the Ministry, under his watch, would be clamping down heavily on illegal dumping.
“The adverse effects of illegal dumping especially in gullies … this can inhibit natural water courses, which result in flooding and the ecosystem is directly affected. Take the Green Monkey, for instance; a lot of people see them as domestic pests, but the reality is we have destroyed their environment …. We kill a lot of trees that would normally provide food for them. Then, they come into our domestic space and become a nuisance because of our flagrant disregard of our agroforestry. It must stop.
“There is no escape for illegal dumping in this country and it will not be tolerated not under my watch.
“It will destroy this country and certainly the environment and it is my duty to protect that which will save us from this existential threat,” he emphasised.
He added that a public relations mechanism needed to be implemented concerning garbage pick-up. This would include informing Barbadians about pick-up times, so that they could put out their garbage on collection days only, to prevent it from becoming a public health nuisance.
Mr. Forde called on all government departments to work in synergy with the Ministry of Environment and National Beautification to achieve the goal of a cleaner and “more beautiful” Barbados.
Another area that will come into sharp focus, he said, was that of ‘waste to energy’. The Minister underscored the importance of converting much of what goes into the landfill into energy.
“We now have to be able to re-utilize everything in this country and get full purchase from it. I am happy to be able to lead the charge. I want Barbadians to work with me and to be conscious of everything they do in their communities because all of us are in this together,” he said.