PRESS RELEASE – The Pitons Management Area (PMA) Office in Soufriere is taking a proactive approach towards eradicating two invasive plants from the Gros Pitons Nature Trail, which forms part of Saint Lucia’s World renowned Pitons Management Area (PMA).
The two plants namely Callisia fragrans and Tradescantia zebrine also known as Wandering Jew are aggressive alien invasive plants which threaten extinction of the native ground cover on Gros Piton.
During 2013, the PMA Office, which is currently managed under the Protected Areas (PA) programme of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology (MSDEST) collaborated with the Soufriere Regional Development Foundation (SRDF) and the national Invasive Alien Species (IAS) project of the Department of Forestry (DoF) to implement an IAS eradication programme on the Gros Pitons Nature Trail.
While some success was achieved, consultants to the national IAS project concluded that eradication of the two alien invasive plants could only be sustainable in the long term if this exercise was accompanied by a well-organised community education and awareness programme that informs and seeks to change attitudes and behaviour.
The Manager for Protected Areas Mr Augustine Dominique explains that the eradication programme is critical to preserving the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Piton Management Area, a renownedUNESCO World Heritage Site.
He further explains that “The PMA is designated a Natural site under criteria vii and viii of the Operational Guidelines of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. As such conservation issues which may have an adverse negative impact on the PMA’s natural features will affect its OUV. In addition, at its last meeting in Doha, Qatar in June 2014, the World Heritage Committee (WHC) adopted a decision on the State of Conservation of the PMA. In that Decision, the WHC welcomed efforts by the State Party to address the challenge of invasive plants and to improve stakeholder engagement. The Committee noted that these efforts should be continued”.
Consequently, prompt action is being taken together with key partners and stakeholders in the short to medium term to remove these invasive plants from the Gros Piton trail.
The PMA Office has joined forces with the SRDF and the DOF to establish a management team to implement an education and awareness project with the aim of completely eradicating these invasive plants from the Gros Piton Nature Trail.
The project will be implemented in the form of two (2) workshops for tour guides and members of the Fond Gens Libres and general PMA community to sensitise them to the need to eradicate invasive plants from the Gros Pitons Nature trail.
One of the planned workshops is scheduled to take place on Thursday August 21, 2014 from 9:30 am to 2:30 p.m.
The Morning Session will take place at the Etangs Combined School at Etangs , Soufriere and the afternoon session on site at the Au Poye Park, Fond Gens Libres, Soufriere.