Posted by Mitsy Ellis-Simpson on Sep 27, 2019

The Rotary Club of Tortola has initiated discussions for the rehabilitation of the Roger Downing Boardwalk in Paraquita Bay and for the protection of the natural environment surrounding it. 

Today, Sec. Violet Gaul, Rtn. Mitsy Ellis-Simpson and Mr. Robin Gaul paid a friendly visit to assess the damages at the Boardwalk which was impacted by Hurricane Irma in 2017. The Boardwalk is a centennial project which was built among luscious mangroves by the Rotary Club of Tortola in stages over 10 years ago.

The Boardwalk, once counterpoised with the mangroves and several birds, was weakened and torn in several areas from the Hurricane.  Someone familiar with the Boardwalk would recognize the level of silence which is now different from the chirping sounds of many birds which nested and frequented the once luscious and bountiful mangroves.

Many of the mangroves surrounding the Boardwalk were damaged by high speed winds and sediments deposited at the site causing the mangroves to suffocate in growth among other things.  The Rotary benches have visible salt water decay and the signs at the location need improvement.  Compared to the previously luscious and covered boardwalk two years ago, the mortality rate of the mangroves is severely visible.  Not only there are sediments in the soil but the abundance of rotten dried branches and trunks obstruct the growth of new mangroves. Nearby there are also sailing vessels which were sunk due to the hurricane.  

This project calls for major discussion for rehabilitation of the Boardwalk, care and growth of the mangroves and protection of our natural environment.  All efforts require community co-operation and partnership with stakeholders.   In the interim, we anticipate that persons be careful walking on the Boardwalk and refrain from littering the area. Several plastic bottles, soda cans and shoes were spotted in the mud causing a further environmental issue to damage the mangrove system.  Help us protect and save our environment for our own livelihood and for visitors to our shores.  

The Boardwalk has great potential for our enjoyment and as a tourist attraction.  It has been a good educational avenue where many students visit to learn more about the mangrove and it’s natural environment. Despite its challenges and the fact that it needs human support, mangroves grow on their own and its good to see them sprouting.  The mangroves provide protection during hurricanes, act  as a barrier between land and sea and as a nursery for many marine species.  Our ecosystem needs all our support for its survival.