Mauritius is our home. We must take care of it for our own well-being and for that of the future generations. This means protecting our natural environment. Today, our island is facing severe environmental problems such as air, water and land pollution, deforestation, poorly planned urbanisation, extinction of endemic plant and animal species, soil and beach erosion, depletion of marine resources, destruction of wetlands, traffic congestion, excessive production of solid waste and water shortage.
We are very worried about our future. MID is a nice theoretical concept with good intentions but is not making much perceptible impact.To protect our environment we should first of all devise a national plan to curtail our ecological and water footprint. We are presently using more resources than what our island can provide us with and this is not sustainable. We cannot afford unlimited economic growth as the ensuing social and environmental problems will be unmanageable.We should stabilise our population and establish a sustainable carrying capacity for tourists. Our consumption pattern should be challenged as we are heading beyond the sustainable limit mostly through greediness and western lifestyle. We should curtail air, water and land pollution by reducing our garbage production and by proper disposal and recycling ; by discouraging littering of public places, rivers, lagoons, forests etc; by taking urgent steps to ban vehicles that produce excessive smoke on our roads ; by encouraging planters to use less pesticides and to adopt organic farming ; by convincing people to consume more healthy vegetarian food produced locally and preferably in kitchen gardens.
The importation of vehicles should be strictly regulated as our roads cannot accomodate more. Heavy duties should be levied on cars, especially powerful and luxurious cars. An urgent policy for efficient collective public transport should be among our top priority. Efficient and effective town and country planning should be another pillar of our development with proper landscaping and a national and regional tree planting campaign.Our historical and cultural heritage should also be jealously preserved.
We should reduce our energy consumption at home, at work and on the road by adopting energy efficient habits like walking, bike riding, car pooling, using public transport, using natural lighting and ventilation as much as possible, buying energy efficient appliances (e.g compact fluorescent lights) and vehicles (e.g motorcycles, small cars). We should use tap water judiciously by reducing our present water consumption which is around 170 litres per capita daily to about 100 litres (according to the UN we can live comfortably with 50 litres per capita daily) and by collecting rain water at home.
Our endemic flora and fauna warrants some special attention. We should put an end to the destruction of the natural habitat which support our endemic plants and animals. These habitats include indigenous forests, natural reserves, river reserves, off-shore islets, wetlands, mangroves etc.
We should adopt a three pronged-approach based on legislations, enforcement and education.We already have appropriate legislations which, unfortunately, are ineffectively enforced at present. We should therefore review our enforcement strategies and policies to minimise the degradation of our natural environment.
The most effective way to protect our natural environment, however, is through education. Environmental education should be high on the agenda in the school curriculum and should continue informally but forcefully through the media. It should prompt mauritians to change their attitude and their behaviour drastically.