DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, Fitzgerald Providence
News
December 16, 2022
Forestry Head hails conservation efforts at Zion Hill

Director of Forestry, Fitzgerald Providence does not want Zion Hill, in Barrouallie to be seen in a negative light following the discovery of possible human remains in the area.

News began circulating when what appears to be human bones were found by construction worker, Leslie Hector on Friday, December 3. Providence told SEARCHLIGHT that he wants to emphasise the conservation of the forest and the beauty and history of the area.

“In the 1990’s, the Forestry Department started an initiative with other community groups and other institutions to reforest the area… there was an annual fire in that area which destroyed the lemon grass and vegetation of the area because there were no trees, so when the rain came, there was actually soil erosion and flooding coming down into Barrouallie,” Providence explained.

“So we had to move in and do some conservation work there…and over the years, we have continued to maintain the trees, the dry forest area and coastal dry forest.”

Providence said for years fire plagued the area so another area was cleared to prevent fire spreading from the back of the northern part of the mountain, affecting Zion Hill which was prone to erosion resulting in rockslides whenever it rained heavily.

He added that the erosion negatively impacted the communities of Keartons, and Barrouallie proper which motivated the Forestry Department to create a trail to control the fire.

“There was a cry from community individuals to move in there and to do the reforestation, and stabilize the area and as we developed the area, there was a trail put in by us basically for patrol…”, the Forestry official told SEARCHLIGHT.

“We had issues of the fire continuing so we had built…what we call a fire trail… a clear border to protect fire from coming from other areas to the forest area.

“After we had done that and developed the area over time, the Barrouallie Heritage Group which was associated with the Wallilabou Recreational Site, they came to us in terms of…prior to have it developed, not only to have it as a trail but as a multi-purpose trail”.

Providence said the area was converted from a dry, barren landscape to a forest and is now being used as a recreational site, proving “that we can have true conservation and have livelihood opportunities through forest conservation and reforestation.”

The recreational site that Providence spoke of is an initiative undertaken by the Barrouallie Heritage Group which aims to transform the fishing town into a tourism hotspot.

“After we realized it had potential in terms of recreation…the community group saw the interest, they came in and they asked to develop the trail. They were able to secure the funding from the GEF Small Grant.”

Leslie Hector who is also a member of the Barrouallie Heritage Group told SEARCHLIGHT that the Group plans to continue working on the trail for locals and tourists to so they are able to get to the summit of the mountain, then use the fitness facility for exercise, get a suntan on the grass or relax under the gazebo while enjoying the view of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Beach, and finally zip-line or trail back down the the mountain.

He also said they intend to erect a few benches that will be stationed along the trail. A bathroom and an office have already been constructed.

Funding for the project was provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and United Nations Development Programme.