Akilah Jaramogi, head of the Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP), is concerned about the recent spate of bush fires around her project in St. Ann’s.
She told Newsday yesterday: “On Friday we had a bad experience. We had a community fire down the hill from us, then at 4.30 am on Saturday we had another fire just outside our FACRP building, which I think was deliberately set. With the support of the Fire Service we got it under control. But even before that, We had a fire on Mother’s Day and parts of the forest that has never been burnt before have been burnt.”
She said since 1901 the northern range has always been a concern to foresters and environmental care-givers, but today we are in no better position.
She then suggested that environmental stakeholders come together and create a national forest fire plan to ready everyone for the dry season and work together to eliminate the annual threat of bush fires.
Jaramogi said education is needed at a national level. We have been doing our part but it is not sinking in. She said there must be family plan, a community plan and a national plan of action at the first scent of smoke.
“We need a more cohesive approach, and a plan to deal with bush fires. TT is burning down and we are losing our forests at a rapid pace and the price to rehabilitation is very costly.
Jaramogi was also peeved about the lack of enforcement of law pertaining to fires. She said: “We have the fire fine from the Ministry of the Environment and it’s $20,000. and six months in prison but it is very rare anyone is charged in TT.”
She then expressed the wish to have foresters, the fire service and the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), as well as the community people who she see as the first responders, work together to do something positive about the situation.