Learning about Forests now present in 22 countries

LEAF International is delighted to announce that LEAF is now present in 22 FEE member countries. The Learning about Forests programme was officially launched in Trinidad and Tobago just last week.

In keeping with its commitment to environmental education, Asclepius Green, Associate Member of FEE and National Coordinator of FEE programmes in Trinidad and Tobago has launched the LEAF programme on June 5th 2015 in commemoration of World Environment Day.

After one year of implementing the Blue Flag programme, Asclepius Green has had growing interest in activities that are geared towards protected marine area while enhancing forests area that are intercepted by rivers and wetlands. This “ridge to reef” approach would provide a more relevant and holistic application of the programme that focuses not only on the terrestrial but as well as the coastal ecosystem. This concept has been widely used to manage environmental issues and is a great way to link the Blue Flag and LEAF programmes.

The LEAF launch initiative was propelled by the interest to collaborate with the Junior Chamber International (JCI), Tobago Chapter on the first forest cycle of the LEAF programme in Trinidad and Tobago. JCI Tobago is a local non-governmental organisation that is a part of Junior Chamber International (JCI), formerly known as ‘Jaycees’. JCI comprises of a global network of over 200,000 young active citizens, 18-40, aimed at empowering young people to create positive change and provide sustainable solutions to the many problems that exist in their societies.

For the first forest cycle, Asclepius Green has identified the LEAF “Forest and Water” theme with a focus on wetland forests, an area of importance to JCI Tobago. Here, wetland refers to transitional areas where land based and water based ecosystems overlap. For Tobago, wetlands perform a variety of functions of vital importance to the local environment and its culture. For many Tobagonians, wetlands provide a livelihood and popular pastime for young boys. The wetlands of Tobago are a habitat to the blue crab, that is now critically endangered due to habitat destruction and a high demand for the popular local cuisine: “Crab and Dumplings”. Additionally, the wetlands of Tobago provide many wildlife nesting sites and other critical habitats for a variety of fish and wildlife species as well as recreational opportunities to local and foreign visitors. Currently many of functions of the wetlands of Tobago are compromised by land development activities. The implementation of the LEAF programme, seeks to improve the management of the wetlands of Tobago.

Asclepius Green and JCI have announced their collaboration on the “Rise & Shine” segment on the Tobago television channel, Channel 5. Also announced during the television interview was the commitment from some divisions within the Tobago House of assembly to assist with the first cycle of the LEAF programme. The buy-in from the relevant stakeholders safeguards a successful implementation of LEAF and other FEE programmes.

Rachel Boyle, International LEAF Director, welcomed Trinidad and Tobago on board and looks forward to working with them over the coming years.