The Richmond Coastal Wetland is a critical area which supports the overall biodiversity of many species of fish, shellfish, birds and marine mammals. Over the years the Richmond area, the only wetland area of this kind in St. Vincent, has been severely damaged. This is due to climate change related disasters and to people that, everyday, mine the beach for sand and gravel or cut and disrupt the freshwater flow for livelihoods.
As a result, Richmond beach has suffered from sea level rise. Mangrove estuaries and wetlands are nurseries for many species and a healthy estuary represents food security for many people. Unfortunately, other wetlands and mangrove systems in St. Vincent have been lost over a number of years.
“The main focus of this project over the next five years will be to establish a “full”, mixed species plot. The Richmond Beach Coastal Wetland area offers a possibility for long term survival and success because of the size and current existing features of the area and through the engagement of the academy. Both red and white mangroves should do well at this site, as they will benefit from the already existing mature shrubbery in the area. A number of different planting methods can be used. Both red and white seedlings can be introduced directly into the soil, as has already been done. In addition, encasement planting can also be done, using red mangrove seedlings in either bamboo or PVC tubes, closer to the water’s edge. The seedlings will need to be planted in individual, species specific transects, so that comparison monitoring can be done over time. Transect sizes will have to be varied according to species and ground conditions.” Reference - Tyrone W. Buckmire, Director, Grenada Fund for Conservation, Inc.
Understanding the importance of these ecosystems and how to preserve them is new for many people and it is important to bring this message out to the public. Lessons on biodiversity have been taught in several local schools over the past three years whilst partnering with the Lions Club, Police cooperative Credit Union, Parks Rivers and Beaches Authority and the Forestry Department.
Furthermore, planting actions are been carried out every year with the planting neem trees, fat pork, pandanas, coco nut, seagrapes, white and red mangroves and a Mangrove expert Tyrone Buckmire from Grenada has visited and advised the project twice.
After all these actions, the area has been met with more respect and care by the local community.
Photos from Richmond Coastal Conservation Project
Videos: Coastal Protection
PLANTING ACTION - Coastal Trees Richmond Beach
SVGTV News 28th of January 2015
Learn to Dive and protect marine wildlife with Richmond Vale Academy
Richmond Coastal Conservation Initiative July 2018
The La Soufriere Cross Country Trail winds its way from sea level up to the top of the 4.048 ft volcano. The trail snakes across the width of St. Vincent and can be walked from either the Leeward or Windward coast.
However, over the years, the Leeward trail was seriously affected by various weather systems, including Hurricane Tomas in 2010, which blew down a number of trees and resulted in several landslides along the trail. The trail from the Windward side was rehabilitated and is thus in good condition. The Leeward trail was more difficult to hike because of fallen trees.
Together with the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority, the Forestry Department and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grant Facility, RVA restored the trail and taught in schools about the importance of protecting biodiversity giving lessons about climate change, biodiversity, climate smart agriculture and ecotourism in eight North Leeward communities.
Ten persons were hired to clear the trail, remove logs, make look out spots, benches and repair steps. Fifteen information signs were also created to provide visitors with directions, advice and information. The Leeward trail is approximately 5 miles (8 km) long and offers visitors breath-taking panoramic views of the surrounding land and seascape, as well as close encounters with flora and fauna.
Volcano LA SOUFRIERE PAMPHLET
Global Warming poses a major threat to Biodiversity, on land and in the oceans. If for example, the present rate of global warming continues, biodiversity hotspots like coral reefs, will disappear in 20 to 40 years. For biodiversity, each specie, no matter how big or small has an important role to play in an ecosystem. Various plants and animal species depend on each other and the diversity of species ensures a natural sustainability for all life forms; a healthy and solid biodiversity is self-sustaining and can recover without external intervention, from a variety of disasters.
The United Nations Environmental Organization has designated 2011 – 2020 as the “Decade on Biodiversity”.
We started to engage in protection and conservation efforts in 2015 by investing in a Diving Center. Shortly after we a trained instructor and the second instructor is in the process to being certified. We started to learn about the importance of marine biodiversity and the corals and then link it all to Global Warming and Climate Change; we wanted to do much more to protect our coastal line and the marine wildlife. We carried out several hunts to reduce the number of lion fish which is an invasive specie threatening the health of our reefs. We also initiated the Richmond Vale Coastal Conservation Project planting coastal trees such as mangroves to protect against sea level rises.
Our diving center is thriving and more than 100 certifications have already been issued in Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver and Dive Master. Over a period of three years we have also mapped out a number of diving sites in North Leeward and visit these sites frequently.
Empowering community participation in environmental research and management in North Leeward
The communities of North Leeward are among the financially poorest in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Unemployment is prevalent and the main livelihoods – fishing and farming – are threatened by declining environmental health resulting from poor environmental practices.
RVA is about to start a new project which will contribute to reducing poverty and improving environmental health in these communities by building the capacity of young people in environmental management. Richmond Vale Academy will train 10 local youths (five female and five male) and engage them in understanding and solving environmental problems on land and sea through practical hands-on experience, including SCUBA diving surveys of coral reefs and environmental mini-projects that benefit their community.
The project is anticipated to improve environmental stewardship, environmental health and employment prospects. Sharing the journey of the young participants with the wider community through national TV and radio broadcasts will increase the reach and impact of the project.
Come back to this page for more info.
Protection against invasive species
Lionfish is native to the Indo-Pacific and is currently an invasive specie in the Caribbean. They have a colourful and dramatic appearance that make them popular ornamental fish in saltwater aquariums. However, over the last decade, the density of the wild lionfish population in the Caribbean has expanded. It does not have natural predators in the area and thus poses a serious threat to other reef fish populations across the region, as well as coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend on them. St. Vincent and the region’s fishing and tourism industries, which depend on coral reefs, are at risk.
Two species of Lionfish (Pterois volitans and P. miles) are responsible for this recent and growing threat to the Atlantic and Caribbean reefs. Governments across the region are trying to respond. For this reason, RVA periodically carries out a number of lionfish hunts and awareness campaigns. Several meals of Lionfish have been served at the school.
Album: Lionfish hunts
Videos: Marine Biodiversity
Focus North Leeward - International Coastal Clean Up 2016
Diving in Saint Vincent - WE CATCH LIONFISH!
Diving in Saint Vincent - Larikai Point 2015
Diving in Saint Vincent - Caribbean Sea Creatures - Smooth trunkfish
Diving in Saint Vincent - Caribbean Sea Creatures - Trumpetfish
PLANTING ACTION - Coastal Trees Richmond Beach
“I once again express our appreciation to you and your volunteers for your significant contribution to our pipeline reconstruction efforts in North Leeward.” – Garth Saunders, Head of CWSA/SWMU
Torrential Rains from a trough system caused flooding, landslides and damage to housing and infrastructure in St Vincent on the 24th of December 2013. The landslides caused massive damage, the airport closed, many towns and cities were flooded, hundreds of people lost their homes and some their lives. The disaster was declared a level two disaster by the Government.
Landslides damaged the water pipelines and 50,000 people were without public water. The Climate Compliance Conference and everyone at Richmond Vale Academy worked tirelessly to help restore the water pipelines in North Leeward together with CWSA – Central Water and Sewage Authority. This was a big and challenging task. Other efforts were aimed at helping several families dig mud out of their broken houses, assist them in finding their belongings, and help move them back into their homes. The Climate Compliance Conference put in 600 volunteer hours in the weeks after the disaster.
As a student in the conference you need to be prepared to do whatever is needed when disaster strikes. We are in the world’s most disaster prone area and we will do what it takes to support our community when it is needed. This is in fact a privilege, to be able to help where and when it is most needed.
RVA decided to have an off grid photovoltaic solar system in order to be self sufficient at all times and to remain operational in the event of a central system electricity failure due to climate change related or other disasters.
The Academy can produce (17.5 kW x 4 hours =) 70 kWh and its using about 60 kWh per day on light, pumping water and to keep food refrigerated.
A 17.5 kW system has been installed with 70 solar panels and a battery bank of 120 batteries (which can hold about 156 kWh of energy). This means that the system can produce 17.5 kW per hour, if the sun shines with all its power for one hour. However, batteries are needed because the sun doesn’t shine all day long; some hours during the day it only shines 50%, due to clouds the time of the day or year. Some hours it only shines 10%. On average the sun only shines about 4 hours with full power per day.
Solar water heaters
Less than 3% of the energy in the Caribbean comes from renewable sources. e main obstacle preventing people converting to renewable energy is nancing. In St. Vincent, there is a company that gives credit which made it economically viable for RVA to invest in solar water heaters - thus reducing its energy bill and carbon footprint.
Water heating accounts for up to 25% of the energy used in a typical household in the Caribbean.
There are 6 solar water heaters at RVA, the kitchen and most of the bathrooms have hot water sourced from solar energy. A solar water heater works with room temperature water that flows from the water tank to the solar collector.
At the collector, it is heated up and then returned to the hot water tank. Hot water is then drawn on demand from the tank to the showers and sinks at the kitchen and showers.
Album: Solar Panels
Burning fossil fuels pollute the atmosphere, which leads to Global Warming and Climate Change. A way of climate change mitigation is to use renewable energy sources. There are several renewable energy sources: solar energy, wind energy, different thermal and hydro sources of energy and biogas.
Biogas is distinct from other renewable energy sources because of its characteristics of using, controlling and collecting organic waste and at the same time producing fertilizer as a by-product. Biogas does not have any geographical limitations nor does it require advanced technology for producing energy and at the same time it is very simple to use and apply.
In St. Vincent we are to a large extent dependent on fossil fuels and certainly when it comes to cooking gas. Charcoal is also used for cooking, which requires cutting down trees. Deforestation leads to a decrease in the fertility of land by soil erosion, among other negative environmental impacts. Using firewood as energy is also harmful for the health because of the smoke and the air pollution it causes.
A large amount of kitchen waste in St. Vincent is disposed of in the landfills or discarded into the environment. This can cause public health hazards and diseases. Inadequate management of waste also leads to polluting surface and groundwater and can promote breeding of flies, mosquitoes, rats and other disease-bearing vectors. It also emits methane, which is a major greenhouse gas contributing to Global Warming.
Producing our own renewable cooking gas has thus many benefits.
Kitchen waste is organic material that has high calorific and nutritive properties, which are valuable for microbes that are converting the kitchen waste into methane. The efficient production of biogas can be increased by the right way of using kitchen waste.
Richmond Vale Academy has set up a small biogas digesters which can produce Biogas from kitchen waste. The way the system works is that you apply 1.5-kilo normal kitchen waste with 15 litres of water into a digester where the organic matter is decomposed in an anaerobic process that ends up producing 5 hours of methane gas which can be used for cooking. A by-product is liquid fertilizer, which can be used in the vegetable garden or on the farm.
RVA aims to set up more bio gas units over the next years; here are some of the pioneers Pat Otley, Benson Jacks and Fareeda Nanton
Pat Otley, Richmond
Pat is a farmer who has an organic farm close to Richmond Vale Academy. At the beginning of this project RVA organized a meeting with the workers from RVA to see who of them were interested. We held a presentation about the bio digester project serving coffee and cake.
Pat was very interested in getting a bio digester at his farm from the very beginning. We had already been to his farm a few times before so we knew the place. He has access to water, because the river is close to his farm. Also, he has a lot of organic waste and some manure to feed the bio digester.
We decided to build a plant there, because he could benefit a lot from the fertilizer and the cooking gas. We built a combination of an IBC-tank-digester and a concrete hole with a black tank inside as gas storage. Pat and his friends helped us, because it was a lot of work, especially to dig the hole and mix the concrete for the hole. After the plant was finished we came back a few times to connect the gas
storage with the stove and to make sure he has biogas. From his first gas, he made a pot of tea.
Fareeda Nanton, Petit Bordel
Fareeda is the head of the Markstone Community Group. When we told her about the biogas project she was instantly interested in getting one. Some in our team visited her house to check if she fulfilled the criteria. Since she's also living next to the river and she has fruit and vegetable plants in her garden, we decided that she would be one of the beneficiaries. Fareeda is living in a big house with her family, mother, and brothers, so they produce a lot of kitchen waste to feed the digester. She's getting the manure from neighbors. It took us two days to build the bio digester, which was the first one made only from IBC tanks.
Benson Jack, Richmond
Benson is a farmer in Richmond. We got to know him through Pat, because he was helping to build his biogas digester. He's living in a small shed at the farm, where he's cooking as well. He has no electricity and he was using charcoal for cooking. We went to his farm to visit the place, which was in our opinion ideal for a bio digester. After that we decided to build a plant at his farm, because he could benefit a lot from the gas and the fertilizer. We finished the bio digester quite fast, because it was already the second plant with IBC-tanks. Two weeks later Benson installed the stove and has been cooking ever since!