PRESS RELEASE: The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour is appealing to the Virgin Islands community to give due care and attention when working in and around mangroves during this critical time in their recovery following the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Mangroves are salt tolerant trees that once extensively covered most of the southern coastlines of the Virgin Islands, but are now very limited in number due to clearing and pollution over the years.
Often referred to as the “rainforests of the sea”, healthy mangrove forests serve as breeding grounds for numerous species of fish and crabs. Mangroves act as natural protective barriers by dissipating the force of water caused by storms, tides and winds and their root systems trap sediment and prevent erosion along the coastline.
Minister for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Dr the Honourable Kedrick Pickering says, “It is important that mangroves be given the opportunity to regenerate naturally so that they can continue to carry out their very important functions.”
He said: “Due to the forceful winds encountered during the hurricanes, many of the larger trees in our mangrove forests have been knocked down and uprooted, and are also now littered with boats and other debris. The present state of the mangroves begs for our assistance to care for them so that they may continue to take on their role in the ecosystem.”
Leaves are returning to some of the older trees. Seedlings are now receiving full sunlight due to gaps in the canopy created by the storms and this will now assist them to become strong healthy trees if allowed to grow.
Please refrain from dumping, garbage, soil, oil, etcetera in or near mangroves, and when removing boats and other debris avoid damaging trees and seedlings.
If you are unsure about what activities may cause damage to the mangroves, please contact the Conservation and Fisheries Department at telephone 468-2700 or visit their office in the Quastisky Building, opposite the roundabout in Road Town.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour is committed to the preservation of the Territory’s marine and terrestrial environment. For further information, please contact the Ministry at telephone number 468-2147 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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