NEPA Ramps Up Public Environmental Awareness in St. Thomas

February 28, 2014

The parish of St. Thomas has benefitted from environmental awareness activities initiated by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).

During the month of February more than 1,000 students in eight primary schools benefitted from presentations on wetlands, protected species and best agricultural practices.

The environmental awareness outreach was delivered at: Lyssons Primary, Old Pera Infant and Primary, Amity Hall Primary, Dalvey Primary, Airy Castle Primary, Yallahs Primary, Golden Grove Primary and Duckenfield Primary.

The outreach was supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the St. Thomas Environmental Protection Association (STEPA) – an environmental non-governmental organization. The partnership was an initiative to educate the students through presentations on wetlands and informed the students on their roles and functions.

Dionne Rose, Manager, Public Education and Corporate Communications Branch at NEPA said the outreach was part of the activities organized by the Agency and the National Ramsar Committee in observation of World Wetlands Day.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually on February 2 to mark the adoption of the Convention of Wetlands signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971. Jamaica became a Party to the Ramsar Convention in 1998.

"The parish of St. Thomas was chosen because of its vast wetland areas and the importance of agriculture to livelihoods and the economy of that parish. Schools in close proximity to the wetlands were targeted," said Ms. Rose.

She further added that the environmental awareness sessions provided an educational outlook for the students regarding the importance of wetlands and highlighted best practices for the protection of wetlands.

Evette Graham, principal of Yallahs Primary School said that she was very happy to accommodate the resource persons from NEPA and STEPA. "All the teachers who shared in the experience reported that it was an amazing venture," she said.

Monique Gordon, a teacher of grade five at Yallahs Primary said the information was interesting, educational and child-centred. "Our students are now able to identify wetlands and give examples and are able to name wetlands in our parish. They are also able to name Black River Lower Morass as the first wetland that was internationally declared," she informed.

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