Hellshire Enviro Fair (Speaking Notes)
SPEAKING NOTES - DELIVERED ON BEHALF OF DESMOND MALCOLM, GENERAL MANAGER (URBAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION)
I am happy to be here in Hellshire today for the UDC’s 7th annual Hellshire Enviro Fair. This year is a special one for the UDC as we celebrate our 45th anniversary and are pleased to be collaborating with the national environment and planning agency (NEPA), through a project called “mitigating the threat of invasive alien species in the insular Caribbean”. You will hear more about this throughout the day.
NEPA, we welcome this partnership which is clearly a win-win situation for our two agencies, as well as those gathered here.
This partnership is nothing new, as we recently collaborated on a public awareness programme in the Hellshire hills and goat islands, which are part of the Portland bight protected area (PBPA). That programme was funded through the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The Enviro Fair and competition serves as a vital tool in the management of this special area, Hellshire hills, part of a protected area.
Hellshire represents the largest dry limestone forest in central and South America and the Caribbean. Unfortunately not everyone understands that it must be protected. Some of the activities which are a threat to the resources include, illegal cutting of trees for charcoal burning and destruction of habitat of protected species, such as the Jamaican iguana, American crocodile and Jamaican skink. These activities must be stopped.
Did you know that this is the only place in the world that the Jamaican iguana can be found in the wild?
We must preserve our environment in order to safeguard our future. We are depending on each and everyone here to take that message home and to encourage your families and your communities to not take part in activities that will harm the environment, which in the long run will harm us.
Over the years the corporation has worked to conserve the natural resources within the community of Hellshire. As a result, the corporation frequently monitors the natural resources, which include wetlands, forests, caves, coral reefs, coastal water, marine turtles, crocodiles, iguanas, cultural resources and recreational areas.
When you visit the two sisters caves today, you will realise why the corporation continues to preserve its rich heritage. Did you know that these historic caves were used by the tainos mainly for ceremonial purposes? A visit to the caves actually reveals a petroglyph or carving of an adult face, which is over seven hundred years old.
The UDC hosts the Enviro Fair annually to keep the public informed and educated about the environment and of measures they can implement to take care of their environment. The first Enviro Fair was held at green grotto caves and attractions during October 2006. A similar fair, the Hellshire Enviro Fair was held during May 2007, in Hellshire, which was a resounding success and this led to the inclusion of the event on the UDC calendar.
The Hellshire Enviro Fair is held in celebration of international day for biological diversity, which is celebrated on May 22nd annually. The theme for this year is “water and biodiversity”.
An important component of the Enviro Fair is the Hellshire schools enviro competiton, first held in 2008. This year several students from infant, primary, and secondary schools from Kingston and St. Catherine participated in the “2013 schools Enviro competition”, and the winning schools will be awarded this morning.
Last year St. Joseph’s infant walked away with the top prize in the infant category. Their project was dubbed ‘recycle, reuse, and reduce’. Will St Joseph’s be able to repeat, today we will find out?
St. Jago cathedral preparatory won in the primary category for the second time and they focused on how garbage disposal can negatively impact marine life. Will it be a hat trick this year?
Kingston technical high was the winner in the secondary category and their project focused on the production of electricity by .wave action. Who will be the champions this year? Will it be your school?
Let me use this opportunity to congratulate, in advance, our winners this year and to thank our schools, valued sponsors and exhibitors for your enthusiam and great support over the years and today.
In closing, we are impressed with the turn out and are confident that the Hellshire Enviro Fair will continue to grow from strength to strength. Be sure to enjoy the many entertaining activities that we have in store for you, especially the DJ, speech and debate competitions put on by NEPA and also our UDC concert in the afternoon.
Do take time out to visit the historic caves, and view the exhibits. Empower and enjoy yourselves at this years Enviro Fair and we look forward to your continued support as we fulfil our mandate to make development happen.