Even as you read this, you are engaged in the first and most important function of human life: breathing. Air is the substance of life and clean air is the sustenance for our bodies.
‘Beat Air Pollution’ is the theme for this year’s World Environment Day. It is a recognition that air pollution is a serious environmental health hazard. According to the World Health Organisation, about 7 million people fall prey to air pollution every year. Polluted air not only contributes to strokes, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and to global climate change, but it also damages plants, animals, soil and bodies of water.
However, the good news is that the solution to this problem resides in our own hands. One way to combat air pollution is to maintain forests and green spaces in towns. Go back to your roots if you’ve strayed from them, or find them if you haven’t yet discovered them, and plant trees. Trees clean the air – they absorb carbon dioxide and other toxic gases. Just over half of the land area of Trinidad and Tobago is under forest and other woodland. A healthy forest supports healthy people. And a healthy forest houses healthy animals. So, on this World Environment Day, let us acknowledge the beauty of the diverse forest that is ours to enjoy and value.
Commit today to going outside and experiencing nature on a daily basis. Take a hike, visit a river or just enjoy a park or your own home garden. Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC) is just one place you can visit for some outdoor fun. There, you can take a tour on one of our nature trails, led by an experienced guide. Follow it up by cooling off in our natural pool. Holiday camps can also visit the Nature Centre on field trips. To book a visit just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 667-4655.
In the meantime, let me introduce you to some of your animal friends who share this country with you.
The White-necked Jacobin is one of 18 species of hummingbird found in Trinidad and Tobago. It is found mainly at higher elevations. While it drinks nectar from flowers it occasionally takes in insects to get protein.
The Trinidad Motmot is endemic to Trinidad and Tobago and is easily recognized by its soft ‘woop woop’ call.
The ocelot is an Environmentally Sensitive Species in Trinidad, threatened by hunting and habitat loss. A photo captured at night at AWNC by a camera set up by a research group called the Trinidad Ocelot Project, allowed us to get this glimpse of the ocelot in its natural habitat.
The Trinidadian Whiskered Bat is an uncommon species that may be found near rivers in forested areas in Trinidad. Bats are very important for our environment – they pollinate plants, help disperse seeds and, by eating insects, also help to control insect populations. This photo was taken during a mist-netting research exercise at Asa Wright Nature Centre.
The Green Iguana is the largest lizard in Trinidad and Tobago. During the breeding season males change to gold or red-orange. Hunting has reduced the size of the iguana population in some areas of Trinidad. Seeing a flash of the Blue Morpho butterfly, fluttering past you is an unforgettably delightful experience. It is the only member of its family that is found in Trinidad and Tobago. Butterflies are indicators of an environment that is healthy. They tend to react quickly and change their behaviour even when there are only small changes in their habitats.