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Minister Ferreira forms New Providence Cleanup Planning Team

Aug 01, 2017

NASSAU, Bahamas (August 1, 2017) – After several meetings, Environment and Housing Minister, Romauld Ferreira, finalised on Monday a planning team with public and private partners to organise an island wide New Providence cleanup campaign.

The Keeping OUR Bahamas Beautiful initiative will be launched on National Heroes Day, Monday, October 9 and will encompass a phased cleanup approach with the island being divided into five zones. The scope of the cleanup will involve removal of derelict vehicles, lot clearances, removal of white waste which are household appliances, and will also incorporate rodent control.

“We are determined to educate our people, enforce our laws, and constantly monitor our communities to bring about sustained change in the way our surroundings are maintained,” said Minister Ferreira.

The cleanup of New Providence will be supervised by Inspectorate and Solid Waste Management Staff of the Department of Environmental Health Services.

“We understand that the aesthetics of litter free communities, clean green spaces and the like  will not occur overnight but we are unwavering in our efforts to make a forceful impact and invite all residents to partner with us in Keeping OUR Bahamas Beautiful” he said.

The Ministry of the Environment and Housing in the coming weeks will announce the plans for the launch of the Keeping OUR Bahamas Beautiful campaign.

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Environment
Minister Ferreira calls on Bahamians to join Keeping Our Bahamas Beautiful initiative
NASSAU, Bahamas (August 29, 2017) – While appearing as a guest on Ed Fields Live, Kiss FM 96.1 radio show on Monday evening, the Hon. Romauld Ferreira, Minister of the Environment and Housing touted the Keeping OUR Bahamas Beautiful initiative and called for Bahamians to join together to get New Providence clean. “We are proposing that ahead of Heroes Day, we reflect on the national heroes of this country, our forebears who have sacrificed much for us, that we do them honour by ahead of that, cleaning the place up and we want to start now,” said Minister Ferreira. The Environment and Housing Minister called the state of uncleanliness on the island of New Providence a very serious and vexing problem. “New Providence is filthy, “ he said, “New Providence did not get to this state overnight and it will take the collective effort of all right thinking Bahamians to do something about it.” The first step in cleaning up the island he said was getting Bahamians onboard through an aggressive public awareness campaign. In the first instance he said he wanted to appeal to communities and neighbourhood associations who want to organise themselves. “If you are a community organisation, a church, a school, a neighbourhood association, or just an army of one, or an army of your family and you are sick and tired of the state of affairs of New Providence we’re talking to you,” he said, “And we’re saying ‘“look the Ministry of Environment, we want to help you to clean this place up, call us for assistance.’” He said a mindset existed among many Bahamians that someone else should come behind them and clean up after them.   He said he understood the expectations of persons looking to the government to keep the country clean but expressed that it is the responsibility of each individual to have clean surroundings. As the Minister of Environment he said his ministry was taking the lead in being the drivers behind the cleanup initiative with the hope of all Bahamians buying in to the campaign with little enforcement. “I think once in every generation there is an issue that falls on all of us to do collectively and certainly from an environmental point of view, this is one of them,” said Minister Ferreira. Minister Ferreira encouraged listeners to call the ministry for more information and for necessary equipment such as dumpsters to start the initiative in their respective areas. He said while the state of New Providence did not happen overnight and will not be cleaned up overnight, collaborative efforts will bring about the end goal of a clean island and nation. “There are some things that bind us and the environment is one of them and in order to clean it up we all need to hold hands, lock arms and take one step forward,” he said. ###
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Environment
Environment and Housing Minister discusses portfolio on radio show and outlines plans going forward
NASSAU, Bahamas (August 29, 2017) – In his first sit down interview since assuming office, Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira as a guest on Ed Fields Live, Kiss FM 96.1 radio show on Monday evening, described his ministry as very large with a dynamic portfolio and discussed the myriad of challenges and outlined plans for going forward. Minister Ferreira called both environmental rights and affordable housing a subset of basic human rights. Touching on housing he said, “Affordable decent housing gives people a chance to live with a certain amount of dignity in their lives and it gives them a chance at the Bahamian dream which is home ownership.” The biggest challenge for home ownership he pointed to on the island of New Providence was the availability of land to meet the needs of the thousands of applications for homes. The other challenge he said was affordable housing whereby the average Bahamian could afford the home. He said the ministry was faced with the need to introduce new technologies to bring down the price of housing by delivering houses at effective price points while simultaneously adhering to building codes. Said Minister Ferreira, “There are literally thousands of people wanting a home so this desire to have a home is a deep and fundamental desire in the hearts of most Bahamians and my job, our job as a government, is to give effect to those desires and those hopes and dreams.” In addressing the environment, one of the many challenges Minister Ferreira explained was the current state of affairs whereby interlocking issues seemingly on name alone appeared to be under the Ministry of the Environment and Housing, when in fact antiquated regulations prevented directives from his ministry. Minister Ferreira used the real problem of oil seeping into the waters at Clifton Pier Power Station as an example. He explained: “The power station is operated by BPL. The oil comes there, it leaks into the ground. Once it hits the water table that water is actually owned by the Water & Sewage Corporation. It migrates through the rock, hits the ocean. The cleanup at the ocean level is actually the Ministry of Transport. If it hits the seabed then you’re dealing with submerged lands, that’s the Office of the Prime Minister. And if there were any kind of excavation involved to get it, you need an excavation permit, that’s the Ministry of Works, that’s Conservation and Protection of the Physical Landscapes of the Bahamas Act. And if you were to build something to help remediate it or recover it then that’s the Building Controls Officer.” Minister Ferreira emphasized that “nowhere in that scenario is a permit issued from the Ministry of the Environment.” He said, “And so we’re in a situation where we need to bring forth into the 21st century the regulations as it speaks to the day to day operating procedures to guide these things from the Ministry of Environment.” Speaking on the New Providence Landfill, Minister Ferreira said the ministry was in the process of issuing Requests for Proposals once again to bring remediation to the problem as only two groups responded to the initial requests made by the previous administration. He said one of the proposals was a waste energy proposal and the other presented a tipping fee scenario where fees would be charged for use of the landfill. He said the ministry will develop terms of reference for the new RFPs and give people sufficient time to understand the processes, to understand the dynamics of a RFP including a financial component and adequate time to submit a comprehensive proposal that would be similar and not incongruent as the two previously submitted. “And as we said before the residents around the landfill have endured a great deal so there’s some human rights issues there that you need to be sensitive to and on top of all of that the landfill is a national asset whether we accept it as such or not,” said Minister Ferreira. Added Minister Ferreira, “I feel very honoured and privileged to have this opportunity to serve as Minister of Environment and Housing. I am an ecologist and attorney. I have devoted my whole life to these issues.” ###
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Environment
Sustaining and harvesting Bahamian Forests
Harvesting forests in The Bahamas is feasible and an initiative that is getting the full attention of the Forestry Unit. Christopher Russell, director of the unit which falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of the Environment and Housing, said a sustained operation is key for harvesting from forests in the country. He said that during the 1950s the Owings Illinois of The Bahamas Ltd. was licensed to harvest pine trees located on the Pine Islands – New Providence, Abaco, Andros and Grand Bahama and that the harvested pine were used in the United States for the pulp and paper industry in Jacksonville, Florida. Russell said the present pine forest “is a forest that has come back from that activity.” “The idea was to harvest all the pine trees and leave five trees per acre to reseed the forest so all the pine forests you see today, they are not original forests they are like secondary forest and they’ve come back from their parents.” He said the process was not a sustained operation based on sustained yield which he said is the cornerstone for forest management. Sustained yield he explained ensures that the forest is not depleted as harvesting occurs but that regrowth is continuous. “In order for forests to be sustained indefinitely, whenever you’re harvesting you have to find out what is the annual increment and that increment will be removed from the forest and taken in terms of harvesting. So that didn’t happen in the case of Owings.” He said trees have a periodic annual increment whereby they begin as seedlings and grow rapidly, initially in height. “At some point they reach their maximum height growth and then they start putting on diameter,” he said, “So every year trees grow, put on diameter, that increase in diameter is called an increment.” He said, “So you have to find out what is your increment from trees on an annual basis and so that increment is what you would remove from the forest based on certain forest management prescriptions.” Russell said sustained yield begins with resource assessments. He said resource assessments entail staff of the Forestry Unit establishing permanent sample points in the forests by affixing witness posts to a number of trees and using GPS coordinates for locations when data collection is needed. “We would go to this area within a certain radius in the point center and we would flag, identify, measure everything – measure every single tree their height and everything else,” he said. “We would also get information on biodiversity from these areas and then we can therefore quantify what we call the growing stock meaning what is actually the standing volume of trees within the entire forest area using statistical sampling techniques.” Once this groundwork is done, Russell said the next step is to determine what trees should be removed. He said if parts of a forest have too many trees per acre standing then that forest would be classified as dense. If commercial timber production is recommended then “we have to prescribe a certain methodology or technique to coordinate this forest area and selectively take out x amount of trees.” “Let’s say this area has 500 trees per acre it’s too many trees and we want to bring it down to say 200 trees per acre the most, based on data collection, then we have to find the right methodology to take out those competing trees and then maintain the trees that we want to stay,” he said. “So once we have assessed the resource we know what we have standing, we know what is the annual increment from that forest. Therefore, we can decide what percentage of those trees we can take out in terms of volume,” said Russell. He said that one third of the standing volume is usually removed but again noted that the removal of trees has to be based on data collection from the resource assessment. At the end of the day, you take out that volume and then you wait a few more years and you see a difference in those trees,” said Russell, “At some point those old trees will be taken out again but you have to make sure the forest is regenerating again before you move the final crop.” Russell said that whenever any company submits a proposal to remove trees the company’s working plan is reviewed to see if it meets the requirements of the Forestry Unit which is legitimized by the Forestry Act 2010. “If it doesn’t meet our requirements then you are automatically rejected. Your business plan is tailor-made to what we feel is in the best interests of the forest resources and what the forest resources can maintain over a period of time.”
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