In Grenada 40’s first guest post, Safiya Sawney, founder of Conservation Trekkers, shares the inspiration behind why this Grenada-based organisation is seeking to awareness of the critical environmental issues affecting impoverished communities through the medium of adventure.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by the idea of adventure.  As a child this curiosity about the world I lived in involved spending lots of times making up stories in my head, sharing with my friends and living out the fantasy in my backyard using nature as our props.

The other kind of adventure that I often found myself enthusiastically partaking in was the spontaneous trips our parents took us on at home in Grenada. Whether it was seeing a waterfall for the first time, swimming in a river deep in the rainforest or discovering an old fort on a cliff that overlooked the Grenadine islands, it seemed to me that nature really was the catalyst and conduit for adventure in my head and in reality.

Prehistoric rock painting

Nature is what allows us to step outside and travel further than we hoped, along the way discovering a world that fuels our ideas and makes it possible for us to create, design, write and even save lives. Picasso’s infamous statement “we have learned nothing in 12,000 years,” after leaving a French cave decorated with the artistry of humans of the Ice Age is indeed an ode to the ability of nature to endure and inspire. Therefore why not adventure? Why not trek?

Grenada’s future depends on climate change adaptation

Given my background it’s not a surprise to most people that I’ve embarked on a journey to save the nature that was instrumental in allowing me to adventure as far as my mind took me and as long as my parents’ Honda Accord travelled. While my route as been both conventional and unconventional mixed up with adventure mostly acquired through the stark reality of having to successfully live my passion, I am in fact unperturbed and still trekking towards catching the rest of the world up with the many reasons why conservation and adaptation to climate change is not just an important step to make for our future but perhaps the only step we can make to ensure the sustainability of our economies and the preservation of our culture.

Here is a simple concept; the Earth is made up of made finite resources. If we use them up at a rate faster than they are produced, then we risk losing them forever. If we continue to use them up at a rate faster than they are produced in an environment where their existence is now threatened by other factors aside from direct human consumption, then we risk losing them faster. Imagine we depend heavily on fish as an industry and that, due to global demand, we are consuming 100 times more fish than we did 20 years.

 

Grenada fishermen

Fish has changed our family’s income. In fact now our family can make enough money to enable us to live beyond the basic needs of survival and can send our children off to further their education so that we can continue to live a better life. These days however fish is more difficult to come by. If we do not get the species that are in demand we may get smaller and smaller juveniles each time.

We need to avoid wiping out our traditional ways of life

We are aware now that, unless we stop fishing or attempt to regulate our fishing practices, we could essentially wipe out the very thing responsible for our way of life. That’s not the only problem. The Caribbean’s coral reefs, which support the fish, which we depend on, are also on the decline as a result of global warming.

We are also aware that, unless we put methods in place to help stop the decline of coral reefs, it doesn’t make sense to just regulate our fishing practice alone. Yet we’ve already made cut backs in our lifestyle and unemployment in Grenada is over 30%. For now, while we understand the situation fishing is all we have, what other option is there?

Caribbean coral reef

Many contentious arguments plague the topic of conservation and climate change but the one fact that is absolutely irrefutable is science. And for those who are often swayed by a religious argument it should be noted that even the Vatican has accepted the scientific ‘Big Bang Theory’ that explains how life came to form on earth (not Adam and Eve) and evolution – Darwin’s scientific theory on how life adapts to changing circumstance based on the passing on of genetic traits that aids population survival in a changing environment.

Science tells us that both our lands and our oceans are in an unhealthy state and unless we come up with a ‘plan b’ for business and economy then we don’t just put our own lives at risk, but also the lives of our children.

Be part of a grass-roots solution to support change in Grenada

Conservation Trekkers is in its infantile stage. For now it’s just a message board that invites you to be part of a solution to support change on the ground. It is a forum for us to discuss the many options available for those whose livelihoods are currently affected by the declining health of our natural resources. Conservation doesn’t have to be perceived as cutting back. Instead it should be viewed as a journey toward preserving our unique way of life and culture through appreciation of nature.

The forum targets small communities plagued by high unemployment and poverty in Grenada who are prepared to start a conversation on ways in which protecting nature can help to eliminate social issues.  It is an option for the many fishermen, farmers, community groups, environmentalist and patriots interested in investing in Grenada’s future through solution finding and innovation. Conservation Trekkers is for those you truly believe that adventure can start off as an idea and grow into a movement for change. Therefore why not adventure and conserve? Why not conservation trek?

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For more information on Conservation Trekkers find us at www.conservationtrekkers.org. Remember this is a campaign about community and conservation and its success depends on your ability to turn that adventure in your head to reality in your community to create much needed change. Join me!
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