Kilgwyn clean up a great success
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Kilgwyn clean up a great success

Environment Tobago volunteers begin the long process of clearing the tons of garbage dumped over the years

This Monday saw the completion of the first phase of Environment Tobago’s Tidy T&T Clean Up Kilgwyn project. After four days and with the help of 120 volunteers, an amazing 220 tons (47 dump trucks) of garbage has now been removed.

After years of neglect, Kilgwyn is once more a place that Tobagonians can be proud of. Moreover the wetland can now breathe again and will be able to perform it’s environmental functions of storm protection, breeding ground, pollution filter and wildlife haven with renewed vigour.

But what does the future hold for Kilgwyn? This would have been a pointless task if nothing was done to follow it up. Questions have to be asked about access to the wetland and beach. Should the gate be permanently locked, allowing pedestrian access only? If not, should there be some sort of security? During the 2 weeks it has been locked, vehicles laden with garbage have been seen turning back at the gate. It comes as no surprise then, that there has been an increase in dumping at nearby Canoe Bay.

We were particularly shocked by reports of burning tyres found in the area last week. This mindless act not only polluted the environment, but also endangered lives, as planes found it difficult to land due to the thick black smoke. We might be able to solve Kilgwyn’s garbage problems, but we certainly can’t solve Tobago’s.

The government and Rotary Club Tidy T&T competition is a step in the right direction, but so much more still needs to be done. Addressing people’s attitudes to dumping garbage and proper waste management systems are the crucial factors here. Neither the government nor the public can point the finger of blame. It is everybody’s responsibility.

An even bigger question concerns proposals for future development at Kilgwyn. Greater protection is needed for Tobago’s diminishing wetlands. The current policy of “no net-loss of wetlands” is woefully inadequate. This allows for development on natural sites, as long as the developer replaces it with a wetland area of similar size. Surely there can be no replacement for the loss of a natural wetland habitat.

Trees instead of garbage:pupils from Scarborough RC plant noni, coconut and seagrape

It is telling that there was no cost to Environment Tobago, except for time and effort. Everything that went in to making this project a success was donated with great enthusiasm for what we were doing. Perhaps that was the real success - there are enough people in Tobago who care about the environment to do something about it.

Environment Tobago would like to thank everybody, individuals, businesses and government agencies, whose generous donations helped make this project possible. Special thanks to all the volunteers, including Scarborough RC School, YTEPPT, Pathfinders church group and PUSH youth builders. Also all the drivers of the trucks and backhoes from Alescon Cement, Works Division, Warners Hardware and Solid Waste.

Additional thanks to Singhs Hardware, Sister Isle Products, Stumpy’s Hardware, Independence Store Ltd., Joe’s Lock and Key, House of Ice, Crown Point Hotel, Surfside Hotel, Christina’s Guesthouse, Moreshead Supermarket, Golden Star, Almodez Drinks, Maharaj Supermarket, Rotary Club, Inn at the Bay, Best of Thymes restaurant, Gun Bridge Groceries, Diver’s Den, Island Distributers Tobago Dive Masters, Backyard Café, Buccoo Reef Trust, Footprints Eco Resort and all individual donors. - Graham Wellfare and Anoushka Visvalingam - 1/14/2003
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