Minister of the Environment and Drainage Dr Denis Lowe toured the Turner’s Hall, St Andrew Forest today and did not like what he saw.
Accompanied by a team that included Professor of Plant Biology at the University of the West Indies and members of the media, Lowe said he was disturbed by the signs of human activity, including tyre tracks in a clearing, that he discovered in the previously undisturbed and species-rich segment of the Scotland District.
Sheltered by an umbrella and protected by a raincoat on a rainy morning, the minister described what he saw as “monkey business” and promised an Environmental Management Act to give the ministry the teeth to prosecute perpetrators.
And he said he had a pretty good idea who was responsible for the damage.
“It seems to me that there has been some human activity. Perhaps, tours on vehicles that obviously are having an impact on the area. Clearly, the area was cleared and we think we know who was responsible for it, but without the necessary evidence it would be difficult to say.
“But the fact is that there are a lot of tyre tracks in the area. There has been clearing of what would have been natural footpaths to areas that are almost roads which really is inclusive to the landscape of this forest area,” he said.
The minister said he was especially concerned about the soil movements because the forest was the main green space on the island.
He added that he had been exploring fundraising options to restore some of the flora.
“What I have asked the head of our biodiversity programme to do is to perhaps put together a project programme that would attract fundraising to replenish the forest in terms of its natural plants,” he explained.
Lowe also revealed that he would be travelling to Kenya on Friday for meetings with directors of the United Nations Environment Programme and fellow environment ministers and he intended to put forward a proposal for the protection of the St Andrew forest and other green spaces.