C-CAM building wildlife centre in Clarendon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

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CARIBBEAN Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) on Wednesday, Earth Day, unveiled a multi million-dollar facility it is building in Salt River, Clarendon.

The facility, which is still under construction, is called a wetlands and wildlife interpretation centre and will be a study in ecotourism and wildlife conservation when it opens its doors in a few months.

It features a boardwalk through a cluster of red, black and white mangroves which lead to a bird observation hut, boat tours of the mangroves, a turtle pond, a conservation nursery, a dipping pond where children will be able to collect samples and observe them under microscopes.

The facility will be solar powered, use harvested rainwater and compost, and the sewage will be treated on site and used for irrigation in the nursery.

The ground floor of the three-storey main building will comprise a multi-purpose display area with exhibits about the plants and animals that live in the Portland Bight, a cafe and gift shop. The first floor will have a teaching area and a library, while the top floor will allow views above the canopy of the mangroves.

Executive director of CCAM, Ingrid Parchment, said that the centre will:

* Deliver educational experiences for school groups from basic school to university;

* Increase awareness of conservation;

* Generate income for C-CAM and the local community;

* Provide a base for selected land-based eco-tours as well as mangrove boat tours on the Salt River;

* Demonstrate affordable sustainable living and climate change adaptation strategies;

* Provide work experience for interns and volunteers;

* Provide training for community members; and

* Facilitate research and development into natural resource management and conservation of threatened species.

The wetlands and wildlife interpretation centre sits over six acres leased for 49 years from SCJ Holdings.

The financiers of the project include the Sugar Transformation Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries ($18.8 million), Alcoa Foundation (US$65,000), Seacology through CIBC FirstCaribbean US$18,000), Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund (US$270,000), Custos of Clarendon Shagoury ($200,000 in kind), Food for the Poor ($100,000 in kind)

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