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Wonders of Turner’s Hall Woods

Heather-Lynn Evanson

Wonders of Turner’s Hall Woods

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PLANTS THAT SHRINK from your touch, leaves big enough to cover your chest and trees with girths the size of your waist and 85 feet tall.
All within the 74 acres of the unspoilt tropical deciduous forest that is St Andrew’s Turner’s Hall Woods.
Last Saturday, more than 200 people journeyed to the rural parish for the Coastal Zone Management Unit’s walk for Environment Month.
Starting at Turners Hall and walking through its woods, they finished at The Alleyne School in Belleplaine.
This time, the walkers were not only led by CZMU director Dr Leo Brewster and coastal planner Allison Wiggins, but they were educated on the wonders of the forest by the University of the West Indies’ plant pathologist Dr Claire Durant.
Starting at a plateau overlooking the forest where they were treated to amazing flora stunts from the shrinking Sensitive Plant, whose leaves closed and shrunk away from her touch, eliciting oohs and ahhs from the walkers, they headed into the lower canopy of the woods where the atmosphere was humid and sunlight struggled to reach the ground.
There they were regaled with some of the lore behind certain trees and seeds, like when a sandbox tree fruit pops open, it means there will be a lizard wedding, and they learnt the local use of some of the plants.
They were also told that seeds from the Seed-Under-Leaf and the Pride of Barbados trees were used to terminate pregnancies, especially by slave women who, in their struggle against their colonial masters, refused to bring children into a system of slavery.
In addition, the walkers heard that there were two plants endemic to the island which had no local name because they did not grow in common areas.  
“Turner’s Hall Woods is the most species-rich site in Barbados which means that there are many more species in this 74 acres than you would find in other places in Barbados and many of the species that you see here, you would not see in any other part of Barbados,” Durant said, adding that the forest was once part of property by Captain John Turner, a merchant and trader.
After the walkers had completed the trail, stopping to gawk at a bridge, they emerged in St Simons, St Andrew, where Wiggins explained that even though the CZMU was not responsible for inland areas, what happened inland, affected the coast.
“So we try to ensure that whatever we do inland is done to best practices so that when it ends up in the sea, it does not have a detrimental impact on our coastal and marine environment,” she said.
Meanwhile, nature lovers are invited to register for the Harrison’s Cave Gully walk, this Saturday.
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