San­dals Foun­da­tion in­jects over $106,000 in en­vi­ron­ment con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tive

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The San­dals Foun­da­tion in Saint Lu­cia has in­jected more than EC$106,000 in a two-year partnership with Fauna and Flora In­ter­na­tional (FFI) in a bid to de­liver ef­fec­tive con­ser­va­tion prac­tices.

The partnership will see the pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of the en­dan­gered lansan (or in­cense) tree, unique to Saint Lu­cia and the Wind­ward Is­lands.

The lansan tree has be­come vic­tim to de­for­esta­tion and over-ex­ploita­tion for its aro­matic white resin – a prized in­cense used in churches, mas­quer­ades, and house­holds.

In its new al­liance, the San­dals Foun­da­tion and FFI will look to en­gage and ed­u­cate lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to pro­tect and use the lansan tree in a sus­tain­able man­ner while also em­brac­ing its sig­nif­i­cance to lo­cal cul­ture and liveli­hoods. The over­all goal of the un­der­tak­ing is to en­sure that lansan pro­duc­tion is fully sus­tain­able in Saint Lu­cia and to pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic and cul­tural ben­e­fits with­out en­dan­ger­ing wild pop­u­la­tions of lansan trees.

Di­rec­tor of Pro­grams for the San­dals Foun­da­tion, Heidi Clarke said this ini­tia­tive is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant in the arena of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and aware­ness ever un­der­taken by the San­dals Foun­da­tion in Saint Lu­cia.

“We are happy to part­ner with FFI on this ini­tia­tive and we are con­fi­dent that the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia will not only ben­e­fit from the knowl­edge of preser­va­tion, but also from the cul­tural longevity that ed­u­ca­tion prom­ises to al­low for,” Clarke said.

Jonathan Hernould, En­vi­ron­men­tal Of­fi­cer for the San­dals Foun­da­tion will co­or­di­nate the ini­tia­tive. He be­lieves that un­der­tak­ings like these cre­ate a sense of aware­ness and na­tional pride. “Thou­sands of these trees stand dead due to cur­rent meth­ods of resin tap­ping in Saint Lu­cia. We hope that this ini­tia­tive will al­low for a more con­ser­va­tive and sus­tain­able use of this re­source,” he said.

San­dals Foun­da­tion and FFI will part­ner from 2016 to 2018 and with the help of the lo­cal Forestry Depart­ment, the project will pro­vide train­ing for 50-150 in­di­vid­u­als from ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly those who use the tree as a means of eco­nomic gain. These in­di­vid­u­als (tap­pers - per­sons who har­vest lansan) will be pro­vided with equip­ment, li­censes and al­lot­ted trees to uti­lize.

The ini­tia­tive will look to ben­e­fit traders and con­sumers of the lansan tree by en­sur­ing that the prod­uct is both law­ful and sus­tain­able. At least a dozen St. Lu­cia Forestry Depart­ment staff will also re­ceive train­ing and guid­ance from FFI in men­tor­ing, anal­y­sis and man­age­ment skills.

The pro­gram will be ex­e­cuted through a fourstage tar­geted ap­proach and ce­mented with a sus­tain­abil­ity tac­tic that will look to di­rectly safe­guard and de­liver the long term in­ter­est of the tap­pers by en­abling them to earn a steady in­come from col­lect­ing lansan in a sus­tain­able way.

Ac­cord­ing to re­searchers, Saint Lu­cia has the largest re­main­ing pop­u­la­tion of the en­dan­gered lansan tree, in the Caribbean.

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