THE NATURE ISLE
Dominica’s Beauty and Recovery
JULY 6, 2018
The island of Dominica is known throughout the Caribbean as ‘The Nature Isle’ due to its lush rain forests, rugged and pristine coastline and a wide variety of flora and fauna, some of which is endemic to the island. Volcanic rock and towering cliffs enclose sandy bays, both hidden and vast, whilst the heavy seasonal rainfall turns streams into twisting rivers, the forested mountains hosting cascading waterfalls which vanish into a sea of pristine green below.
A myriad of fauna thought lost to time can be found thriving among the highlands of the island. From humble stick insects, lizards and hermit crabs, to the rare and endemic Sisserou parrot, the island is alive from rain forest floor to highest mountain top, the surrounding reefs and oceans some of the healthiest and abundant in the Caribbean. Many parts of Dominica are listed as natural parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty and importance, renowned for their tranquility, uniqueness and pollution free environments.
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Dominica, preceded by heavy rainfall and landslides which cleaved away swathes of rain forest. Record breaking winds battered the island between September 18th and 19th, causing unprecedented destruction and disruption across the nation. All communication methods were disrupted, cutting the island off from the world.
The famed natural features of Dominica were not spared. The UNESCO heritage site of Morne Trois Pitons national park was left pitted and scarred. Treetops stood bare, gaping wounds now evidenced the impact of landslides, whilst trees lay toppled in their hundreds. Elsewhere the coastline reeled from the storm, the sand pockmarked by fallen trees and covered with storm debris vomited up by the now quiet waves. Rivers had burst their banks, turning placid streams into torrents which in parts had washed away roads, leaving areas of the island inaccessible for a number of days.
Now, 9 months on from hurricane Maria, the nature isle is slowly recovering. The wounds inflicted upon the environment may take years to truly heal, but the impact upon the residents of Dominica has been directly addressed. All Hands And Hearts – Smart Response is spearheading the next phase of recovery for Dominica, returning education to the children of the island, those severely impacted as a result of Maria’s devastation.
Focusing initially on the rebuild of the Paix Bouche school, an education hub for four local communities. Volunteers will repair and storm proof the school, installing disaster proof walls and roofing. Installation of a new computer lab and safe and resilient electrical systems is expected to positively impact over 260 students over the next 10 years, whilst the building itself will be strong and safe enough to act as a storm refuge for the local community for many years to come.
Written by George Janes. Photography by Georjie Adams & Nessy Rayner for All Hands and Hearts.