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Bryan Adams founds preservation fund in SVG

Bryan Adams founds preservation fund in SVG

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Environmental conservation in St Vincent and the Grenadines is set to receive a much needed boost with the launch of the SVG Preservation Fund (SVGPF), which is the brainchild of Grammy award winning singer, song-writer and producer Bryan Adams.

Last Thursday, the newly formed charitable organization launched at Grenadine House, with Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment Luke Browne predicting “tremendous benefits” stemming from this new source of funding.{{more}}

“It is clear that we are now in a time where we have to put more emphasis on environmental issues. We have to see how we can protect the environment… We are grappling with issues about climate change; we are contending with our fragile position within the international order of ecosystems,” emphasized Browne.

“From work that has already been done, we can see that we are going to have tremendous benefits coming out of this… We welcome the initiative; there are several local environmental issues that I think that we have to tackle immediately…

“We look forward to becoming a model country where environmental preservation and a concern for environmental issues is concerned.”

Adams, who has been living in Mustique since 2002 and received Vincentian citizenship in September 2014, said that he has been working with the environmental committee in Mustique for the past six years.

“I want to make my contribution, as a Vincy, to this beautiful place,” he enthused.

“This fund, I believe, will make a huge difference; and it has already started. What I love about SVG is the nature and I love the people – I want to preserve that for my children and for all children, your children, as well.”

Adams added: “Mustique acts as a small model of what could actually happen here. We’ve got huge advances in our sustainable energy, we’re rebuilding our coral reefs, [and] we’ve got an incredible environmental programme to protect the fauna and the species on the island… This was really the impetus for me to be here and create this fund with Louise.”

Also speaking at the launch was Louise Mitchell, who will be co-directing the SVGPF, along with Andre Iton.

Mitchell explained that the fund is a sub-group of the Mustique Charitable Trust, and will be part of a world network of preservation funds that were established by Ben Goldsmith, a British investor and conservationist, who specializes in renewable energy.

“What we set about then doing after we decided to set up the fund was to identify a set of issues which are of concern to us… The idea is that these are the areas of concern that we feel need our support. And so, if persons have projects that fit within these concerns, then we would consider them for funding,” she highlighted.

These areas of concern include: forests (unsustainable farming, deforestation and its effect on flooding etc), food quality and organic farming, critically endangered species, and loss of coral reef habitats due to pollution and unsustainable tourism practices, among others.

“We’ve also seen a decline in many of our native plant species. When we speak of preserving St Vincent and the Grenadines, it includes slowing down the pace of the path to extinction of a lot of our flora and fauna, which have been part of our Vincy heritage for years.”

She further named several plant and animal species whose numbers have declined significantly over the years. These include: guava trees, sapodilla trees, jar plum trees, marmie apple trees, sea grapes, roucoo, carilla bush, lobsters, crayfish, river lobster, tri-tri fish, among others.

“There has to be sustainable use of our resources… Often we say we cannot do better because we’re poor – while our practices are actually making us poorer. So we have to pay attention to that. We have to recognize that conservation is not about lofty values, but it’s about sustaining the livelihoods and the health of our people.”

Iton, in brief remarks, pressed upon the audience the importance of preserving SVG’s environment for future generations.

“It’s not all about instant gratification, and things like this fund, which are geared towards long-term development and long-term sustainability, are clearly a part of the issue we have to deal with.”

He added: “The fund is going to have finite resources, very limited resources, so it cannot be expected to do everything. But clearly what the fund will do is try to prioritize, in the context of those goals that have been sett-led, how those funds can be best used and have the greatest reach in the community.”

Projects submitted by National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority (turtle conservation) and the Forestry Division (conservation of the “critically endangered” Union Island gecko) have already been approved for funding by the SVGPF.

More information about the fund can be found on the organization’s website www.svgpf.com. Notable donors include other charitable organizations such as Action Bequia, The Grenadines Partnership Fund, British philanthropist Paul Sykes, and other individuals who are residents of Mustique. (JSV)

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