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Herbs man retires

Herbs man retires

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Fri, Aug 29, 2014

Thirty years after, the quiet, demure but focused Forest Officer, Amos Glasgow, affectionately referred to as “the Herbs Man”, ends his sojourn with the Forestry Department.

Glasgow retires as of September 1 2014, after spending exactly half his life ensuring that some of the most rugged but alluring{{more}} mountain ranges on which lie the pristine forests of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, would be given the chance at remaining the most important aspect of the fragile ecosystem on the multi-island state.

Glasgow entered the Forestry Department, then a Division, in 1984 when it was located in Kingstown at headquarters, Ministry of Agriculture. He was one of three officers recruited at the time, the other two being Joel Poyer and Christopher Wyllie (“Froggo”). Under the supervision of the then Chief Forestry Officer, Calvin Nichols, Amos was swiftly introduced to the rudiments of the department and by extension the management of the local forests; which for the next 30 years shaped and moulded his quiet disposition and determined most of his life’s pursuits.

Starting out as a Forest Guard, Amos, after receiving a short stint of in-service training, moved from performing the tedious clericals duties required internally, to the more arduous but challenging tasks of forest management.

The first four years in the department saw Glasgow moving to his first outside posting on the central range (Vermont range) where he was responsible for the reforestation programs needed in that area. It was around this time that the department embarked on a program to increase and regulate the use of the forests and its environs, advancing one of the more successful forest recreational programs that is still in progression up to today. As such, Glasgow’s involvement included the development of one of the most frequented sites, the Vermont Nature Trail. This is the one and a half mile long mountain trail which has much to offer to the ardent trekker inclusive of several species of plants and animals, overwhelming views and, most revered, the sighting and observatory points for the national bird, the Amazona guildingii. The department then began to focus its attention on other areas for similar development – the Owia Salt Pond became the next target. With his fellow officers, Glasgow commenced work on this site, but had to leave in pursuit of higher learning abroad

Thus in 1988, along with two other colleagues, Joel Poyer and Andrew Lockhart, Amos was offered a USAID scholarship to attend the Paul Smith’s College in New York where he attained an Associate Degree in Forest Recreation/technician. On his return, the Forestry Department was gradually going through a process of expanding its portfolios, taking on board a number of new entities that were deemed useful in the management of the biodiversity. Amos was appointed as a Forest Officer assigned to the Recreation Unit during which time saw the evolvement of a plethora of recreational sites, the more popular ones being the Owia Salt Pond, Black Point, Richmond beach, and the Wallilabou and Trinity falls. “We finished the developments at the Owia Salt Pond, putting in the steps, gazebo, toilet facilities and the beautiful landscaped area at the top. We were also given the responsibility to manage the beaches for tourism and local purposes. The beaches and the sites at Baleine, Dark View and Richmond were then further developed.”

Amos then began to advance in status in the Department attaining the post of Forest Supervisor, two notches from the top post. He then had to manage the Technical Unit which had the responsibility for watershed management, wildlife protection, fire prevention and patrolling for forest offenses. He leaves after fulfilling his duties as supervisor for the Ranges, and the Utilization Unit (sale, felling and conversion of trees into lumber) The level of skills, experience and knowledge acquired afforded him the opportunity to work in as many areas within the department but it was the short stint while at the Vermont Nature Trail, that Amos developed an affinity for wildlife management and protection, and biodiversity. This spiralled into his current hobby which involves the collection and documentation of information on the various species flora and fauna. It was also then he attained the nom de plume among his colleagues as “the Herbs Man” He is the Department’s ardent dendrologist, photographing and documenting as many species as he encountered. Amos became a reservoir of much of the information on plant species sought by many in the general public.

“I really wanted to write a book on the identification of flora (trees and shrubs) of St.Vincent, but with my responsibilities, it was too time consuming. I have started a book on the birds of St.Vincent and I’m going to complete it.”

As can be borne out by his colleagues, Amos was a very quiet unassuming character, who had no use for explosive anger. He approached his work in a mature way, always giving a listening ear and too often, giving way “for peace’s sake”. Close friend and ally, Joel Poyer, was convinced that Amos’s composed deportment was instrumental in fostering the high level of camaraderie among co-workers that exists in the Department.

Glasgow leaves the department a happy individual who in retrospect thinks that he benefitted tremendously, having been afforded the opportunity to travel abroad, meet interesting people and open up his perspectives on life. As a forestry officer, his first loyalty was to the maintenance of the forest and was, at times, “caught between this and persons he encountered and fostered relationships with when on forest patrols. “There are times when on patrol, I would have encountered several offenders in the forests. Even at times, my first instinct was to give up on them; however, I was very persistent in ensuring that similar offenses were not committed in the future. So I had to at times seize logs, ensure license for logging and the burning of charcoal were acquired by those involved”

“My biggest aspiration for the future of the department is that I would truly like to see my fellow officers use as much discipline in the execution of their duties, and pay more attention to the local biodiversity. There is much work to be done in promoting the use of the forest resources which are untapped sources of wealth. Additionally, the losts of forest and biodiversity to illegal farming and other activities is of concern. I, however, was very happy to have been around to see the opportunity afforded the officers to study and become qualify. So I leave the management of the forests in competent hands.”

“I will miss the comaderie and social interactions that exist in the department and hope that the education program will be expanded and reaches out even to me, in my days of retirement.”

The Forestry Department certainly will be losing one of its pillars of experience, but is content in the knowledge that Glasgow’s skills, knowledge and experience gained will only be a call away. Hasta la vista, Mr Herbs!

(contributed by the Forestry Department

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