01 Jan 2010

Simla gets a breath of fresh air

Conservation & Education News

In early December, the William Beebe Tropical Research Station, also called Simla*, opened its doors to over a dozen young adults from various local academic institutions. Participants included students of Arima North Secondary, UWI, SBCS and Valsayn Teachers’ College.
The exercise titled A BREATH OF FRESH AIR was aimed at increasing local awareness and interest in research at Simla. As a globally recognised field station, Simla has made significant contribution to the field of natural science over the past 60 years, while surmounting considerable challenges. A participative approach, facilitated by manageable group size, was used for both the field research and the volunteer exercise.
With limited water, volunteers met the challenge of the first exercise which involved general cleaning of the main building. Members of the FIBR (Foundations in Integrative Biological Research) Guppy Research Project of the University of California, Riverside then held the undivided attention of the volunteers as they walked them through their evolutionary studies of freshwater fish, Poecilia reticulata (the Trinidad guppy). Many students admitted to having been totally unaware of Simla’s existence or contribution to conservation through research.
What was even more encouraging was the commitment made by participants to continue to volunteer their time and effort for the advancement of research and the wise management of the natural environment by locals. To see where it all began, participants made their way four miles northward along the Arima-Blanchisseuse road. Their destination: Asa Wright Nature Centre’s parent holding, Springhill Estate, the ideal location to strategise on the way forward. At Asa Wright we look forward to strengthened collaboration between all supporting institutions and their anticipated success.
*Simla in the Arima Valley was named by Dr. William Beebe after the Simla Mountains in the Himalayas, once home to this famed naturalist.
January 2010

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