Environment officials underscore the need for public education to highlight relevance of local wildlife

Chief Environment Officer Ambassador Diann Black Layne
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By Theresa Goodwin

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Environment officials are pointing to the need for more public awareness on the importance of wild animals and plants and their importance to the environment.

The call by Chief Environment Officer, Ambassador Diann Black Layne and others, coincides with yesterday’s observation of World Wildlife Day which was celebrated under the theme “Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration”.

Black Layne told Observer AM yesterday that the department is working to ensure that members of the public understand that we cannot exist without nature, and cutting down trees and killing different species of animals will have a negative impact on the environment.

“All over the world persons have the same attitude and little by little we are evading the very thing that we need to survive on this planet. We treat wildlife like we can just go and kill them for sport or food; that is just not right,” Black Layne said.

Educator and researcher Joseph Prosper also suggested that all departments, not just the Environment Division, should be involved in public education to provide common knowledge on the steps that are being taken to protect wildlife, which is important to our wellbeing and that of the environment.

The Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) also works closely with the Environment Division on several projects geared toward safeguarding wild animals and plants and critically endangered species such as the Antigua Racer Snake, and the Redonda Ground Dragon, among others.

Meanwhile, the EAG’s Executive Director Arica Hill said the main focus has been to look at the key species and recognise that once they are removed, they will have a negative impact on the environment.

Hill said it is important for everyone to think about the wildlife and how to live in harmony with them.

“When you think about our offshore islands and mainland Antigua as well all of these birds and lizards and microorganisms, all of those are important to us and to the balance to nature. We want people to think about wildlife as creating harmony and how we can live in harmony with them a well,” Hill said.

The observance of World Wildlife Day seeks to draw attention to the conservation status of some of the most critically endangered species of wild fauna and flora and to drive discussions towards imagining and implementing solutions to conserve them.

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