A breathtaking view, warm smiles and the heartiness of community spirit all encompass a day at the Fondes Amandes community in St. Anns. During the weekend of Friday, March 25 to Sunday March 27, the NGO Fondes Amandes Community Re-forestation Project (FACRP) hosted its 15th annual Dry Season Gayap. The word 'Gayap' meaning "a helping hand given by friends and neighbours for a common purpose". The Fondes Amendes "Gayap" not differing from this meaning, being an initiative by the NGO to allow volunteers, who were treated as friends, to work alongside community members and be involved in the protection of their forest from bush fires. This allowed many an opportunity to get hands-on learning about the importance of protecting one's environment.
Throughout the weekend, activities ranged from clearing trails to hikes, each event being an occasion where one would learn about proper practices to be environmentally friendly. "Rich greenery and a colourful ecosystem" is just one of the many comments visitors made upon arrival to the community. Hence it came as no surprise to many, that the incidence of fires in the area had been reduced significantly over the past decade. One official tour guide noted that since 1997, there had been no instances of fires.
Taking into consideration the success of the gayap, which had been occurring for 15 years, the FACRP seeking to be sustainable has been part of several other initiatives, which include tree-planting, wildlife conservation, eco-tourism tours, and the production of jewellery using seeds and other natural materials. The community of Fondes Amendes engages in this spectrum of activities to fulfil their many project objectives, one main aim being "to protect the bio-diversity of flora and fauna In the St Ann's watershed."
Preventing Forest Fires:
• Protects the natural environment
• Protects human habitation in the area
• Helps to preserve the freshwater ecosystems
• Supports the biodiversity of plant and animal life.