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La Educación
Número: (115) II
Año: 1993


Several studies have suggested that the deterioration of the Caribbean’s natural resource base is being accelerated as a result of tourism-related activities, among other things. These include over-use of beaches, specimen collecting on coral reefs, pilferage from wrecks, anchor damage to reefs, and disturbance from water-sport activity. In addition, coastal ecosystems like lagoons and mangrove swamps, which sustain artisanal fisheries, are very often degraded with disastrous effects on coastal resources, as a result of coastal developments, land-based sources of pollution, oil spills, and toxic waste dumped into our waters.

There is, indeed, increasing evidence that the resource base which sustains economic activity is being impoverished and vast stores of the region’s potential wealth, such as its genetic resources, are being destroyed even before their true worth has been established. Forest cover is disappearing at an alarming rate (in Jamaica it is reported to be at 3.5 percent per annum), agricultural land is being lost through poor cultivation practices, and pollution of surface and underground water is rampant—due largely to poor solid waste disposal practices, an increase in consumerism fueled by imported taste patterns and lifestyles, as well as improper technology to deal with chemicals, plastics, and non-traditional waste matter. All of the factors combine to exacerbate the problem of environmental degradation. What is distressing is that there is very little evidence of any Caribbean Government having put in place the required legislation, having developed a comprehensive plan for sustained resource use and environmental management, or having implemented a credible program of environmental education at any level to deal with the major environmental problems which the region faces.

The fragile nature of the Caribbean’s natural resource base demands an approach to education which fosters interactive learning between teachers and students and promotes positive change toward the environment. A number of non-governmental organizations are spearheading a new emphasis on education for positive change. The strategies embrace a variety of non-traditional approaches, some of which appear to be having a positive effect.

This paper reviews some of the strategies being adopted in the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean; strategies designed to heighten awareness and to foster positive change in attitude and behavior toward the environment. The ultimate goal is environmentally sustainable development of the region.