Port Salut – “Our country is full of natural resources, they make life beautiful, let’s learn how to protect them, we are all involved” sang the schoolchildren in the celebration for this year’s world environment day in the charming seaside town of St Jean du Sud, Southern Haiti. This was the musical expression of what they had learned in the blue education classes about their marine environment, organized by the Ministry of Environment and Reef Check.
In total 200 youth from five national schools in the St Jean du Sud municipality participated in these cultural activities to mark the 5th of June. Moreover, 14 pupils won prizes in the quiz for their knowledge on the environment ranging from local to global issues.
UN Environment’s team in Haiti and the Ministry of Environment organized a host of activities for this year’s World Environment Day. Along with cultural and educational activities, it was the opportunity for the Director of the Environment Ministry’s South Department’s Directorate, the Mayor of St Jean du Sud and local religious leaders to remind participants to respect the environment and take the time to reconnect with nature.
Part of Haiti’s stunning Port Salut - Abacou marine protected area
St Jean du Sud is where the Pointe Abacou mangrove is situated, forming part of the Port Salut – Abacou marine protected area, declared in 2013. World Environment Day 2017 saw event participants visit the mangrove, the nursery for mangrove seedlings as well as learn about the beekeeping that is starting in the location.
The mangrove nursery will help nature recover from the October 2016 category 4 hurricane Matthew. Beekeeping will help create alternative sources of income while the bees will help plants thrive, including the mangrove. A prosperous mangrove provides habitats and breeding grounds for marine life, on which the local fishermen depend for their livelihood.
In a World Environment Day activity with a twist, fishermen from different communities around St Jean du Sud also showed their strength and endurance by racing canoes across the bay in Pointe Abacou. They were cheered on by a large group of spectators from the sandy beach. In St Jean du Sud, 16 sailing boats that were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew have now been repaired. The repair improved the fleet so fishermen can reach further out to sea, where they can catch bigger fish.
Fishermen participating in the World Environment Day canoe race
The work on mangrove seedlings, beekeeping and boat repair has been accomplished with the leadership of the Ministry of Environment and PADI – a local NGO Pêche Artisanale pour le Développement Intégré – through Norwegian funded Macaya Grand Sud Project, managed by UN Environment. These activities accompany the efforts to putting in place management arrangements for the Port Salut – Abacou marine protected area, led by the Ministry of Environment.