Regional Sandwatch Project Workshop, 7-9th July 2003
saving our nation's beaches
by Shirvan Williams
threat to the beaches of T&T is man, said Andy Paul, co-ordinator
of ASPNet, at Mayaro Government Primary School.
caused by man is definitely the greatest threat to our beaches.
Man is destroying his own environment," he said.
He was speaking
to a class of about 40 boys and girls between the ages of eight
and 12, who have decided to dedicate their time to saving the
youths plan to do this through the Sandwatch Project, which began
on July 1.
they plan to monitor the country's beaches, starting with Plaisance
Beach in Mayaro.
"We will do
this in three phases. Phase one is to monitor beach erosion and
beach accretion (growth of the beach by the accumulation of sand
or other material), as well as human acts on the beach and the
amount of debris on the beach.
will be beach beautification, and stage three is collecting all
the data so that it can be assessed by UNESCO, the Government
and any other agency that has an interest in nature," Paul explained.
can also be used by companies that want to build on a particular
beach, he said.
the data that we have collected, we will determine if we are losing
or getting more beach. If someone is building anywhere on the
beachfront, we will be able to tell them whether or not it makes
sense to build," he said.
is the only school in the country carrying out such a project,
Paul said proudly.
Sandwatch, which is being sponsored by UNESCO, it is not the first
time these children are being involved with the environment.
we have been trying to help nature. Since then we had many clean-up
activities in the community," he said.
got its start after an environmental contest was held at the school
and the winners got a trip to Tobago, he disclosed, saying:
the genesis of the whole club. The competition was creative writing,
art and craft about the environment. When the winners went to
Tobago we looked at the Buccoo Reef and what affected the survival
Paul said, the school saw a need for students to focus on environmental
issues and so they joined with the ASPnet.
He plans to
incorporate some of the Sandwatch project into the regular school
curriculum. It helps children to learn, he believes, because of
the amount of practical work.
"We hope to
integrate the project into the regular school curriculum like
maths graphs about what was measured at the beach."
"It is making
science come alive. They use dyes, for example, to help determine
current flow. We teach the children what a beach is and show them
how to test the water quality," he said.
participants will also learn to take care of the beaches, he added.
will teach the children through practical learning to put things
in place to protect the beach. The ultimate hope is that these
children will recognise the need to protect the environment."
to, he thinks, because Government is not doing enough.
"Look at all
our beach fronts. Everybody doing what they want. That is the
problem in most Caribbean countries. There are no facilities on
the beach and the beaches are so dirty."
says the Ministry of Education is not as involved as it should
"We are pleading
with the government for greater support and more so the Ministry
of Education.We are of the view that the ministry doesn't really
understand the nature of the Sandwatch programme. We need equipment
like more computers to store our information. When we collect
our data we have to e-mail the information up to UNESCO. Right
now we have two computers at the school that are always occupied."
This is only
one of the group's many needs.
"We need an
Abney level, which is used to measure the gradient of the beach.
All the equipment we have, we had to beg for," he said.
Two of the
children involved also shared their view about the Sandwatch project.
of the group, 10-year-old Saleem Ali, said: "People pollute the
beaches and this is not good for tourists from other countries
who come to visit. Their country is clean, maybe, and they will
feel to go home when they find the place is dirty.
"I like the
Sandwatch project because it helps to keep the beach clean."
secretary, 11-year-old Sade Forgnie , said she enjoys the project
because she gets a chance to help clean up the beaches.
"I like to
help clean the beachfront. We have already learned to measure
the level of the water and current flow.
"It is a good
way to experience different places in the Caribbean," she said.
Guardian, 4th August 2003