We have all noticed recently that both gas and electricity prices have risen dramatically. The fuel surcharge in electricity bills is much more than the charge for actual electricity used. The cost of a gas cylinder for cooking has doubled in price.
With such high prices for gas and electricity, we will find that some households may no longer be able to afford to use gas or electricity to cook with. No doubt, this will mean more households being forced to cut down trees to use wood as a source for fuel for cooking.
The rise in households in poverty will have devastating effects on our country’s forested areas, if all these households start chopping down trees to get wood to cook their food.
SVG runs the risk of turning into another Haiti. Haiti has lost about 95 per cent of its forests because people chopped down trees to get wood to burn for cooking, and to create charcoal for cooking in order to survive.
The most direct effect of deforestation is soil erosion, which leads to topsoil being washed away, more flooding during heavy rains, reduction of the productivity of the land, worsening droughts, that eventually lead to desertification, all of which increase the pressure on the remaining land and trees.
In SVG, the loss of forests puts our watersheds under serious threat of being permanently destroyed, and this can result in our rainforest being wiped out. Our water comes from precipitation in our rainforest, and it is likely the flow of our drinking water will dry up over time.
Without a canopy on our rainforest to preserve the precipitation of water, we will all suffer. SVG has a run-off type of soil, and it is very difficult to dig wells in SVG to find water. We must act immediately and stop our rainforest from being cut down further.
To preserve the rainforest, we need also to reduce poverty and reduce unemployment, so that households have enough money to buy gas and electricity to allow them to cook meals and feed their family. To do this, SVG needs to create a fair tax system.
Think of the amount of revenue we could take in if the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan no longer had tax and custom duty exemptions.
The Leader of SVG Green Party, Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, believes that our country must take measures to bring down the prices of electricity and gas, such as investing in renewable energy as a cheap source of electricity, which will reduce the need for people to cut down trees.
SVG Green Party has said many years ago that we must not only stop the chopping down of trees, but also plant many more trees in the forest area to reduce the possibility of landslides and floods. We should set a target of planting half a million trees. Costa Rica planted 8 million trees in 2008 and 5 million in 2007.
Planting trees will also create jobs. The United Nations has said that planting trees is one of the best ways to reduce the possibility of floods and landslides. They have a direct impact on the stability and reinforcement of soil by roots, and protect the soil surface from surface erosion and gullying.
We must bring down the price of gas and electricity before we lose our rainforest.
SVG Green Party