Today’s Opinion: World Wetlands DayPOSTED: 02/4/11 11:12 AM
The actual date has already passed – February 2 – but tomorrow local environmental groups and volunteers will make their contribution to the protection of local wetlands.
The St. Maarten Pride Foundation. Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (Epic), the Youth Link Foundation and the Nature Foundation are all involved in two events this weekend: a cleanup at the Fresh Pond on Saturday and tree planting at the Little Bay Pond on Sunday.
These are the types of events that usually do not get the rating they deserve. That is because the environment is still regarded as the retarded stepchild of our community by people who ought to know better.
The few ponds that we have left on the island are our natural treasures. But do they get the treatment they deserve? To know the answer, just look around near Little Bay Pond where environmental vandals use the cover of lush green to dump stuff that belongs on the landfill. Look at the waterway that runs along Coralita Road under the bridge on Zagersgut road into the Fresh Pond and wonder why on earth some people think it is okay to dump their food wrappers from fast food stores and all kinds of other debris in the water. Look at the bird watch houses both near the Fresh Pond and Little Bay Pond.
They have been vandalized – the one near the Fresh Pond has even been squatted – and the vandals have turned something that was designed as a tribute to nature and nature lovers into yet another dump.
All this shows that there is a lot of work to be done to save what is left of our fragile natural environment.
The environmental organizations are mostly run by volunteers. The organizations are small, their resources are limited, but their enthusiasm endures and their persistence never wavers.
People who live in a palace long enough have a tendency to take their environment for granted. They do not notice the gold taps in their bathrooms anymore, or the crystal chandeliers in their hallways. But once a palace is stripped of its beauty, all that remains are concrete walls.
St. Maarten is still a beautiful island, but we have become so used to its beauty that we no longer notice it. Worse, in places where natural beauty gets in the way of commercial development, that beauty almost always pulls the short straw.
World Wetlands Day is one of those occasions that offer the opportunity to take a step back and to contemplate the future we want for ourselves and for those who come after us. Will it be a concrete jungle suffocating under the pressure of too many cars? Or will it be not only a friendly country but also one that takes pride in its own natural beauty?