IB volunteers adopt the Railway Trail to clean and maintain
The Railway Trail network is to be cleaned up and maintained by a massive volunteer effort from international businesses.
The Association of International Companies (ABIC) has teamed up with Keep Bermuda Beautiful (KBB) and the department of parks to make sure that the 17 miles of walking paths are cleared of litter on a regular basis.
Altogether, 17 ABIC member companies have each taken on responsibility for a mile of the trail through the KBB’s Adopt-A-Spot programme.
Volunteers who sign up for the scheme agree to take their chosen beauty spot under their wing and keep it in good shape, spending several hours a week picking up trash.
Cynthia Cox, of Cheyne Capital, an alternative investment fund management firm, spearheaded the initiative.
After getting the green light from ABIC’s executive director, Richard Winchell, Ms Cox approached Craig Burt, the acting director of the department of parks, with a proposal that ABIC take over responsibility for the entire trail.
Ms Cox said: “After we received permission from the Government, Craig Burt set out the initial sections.
“He worked with his teams to ensure pick-ups of large items that KBB and the companies flagged.
“Recently, they have been active at cutting back invasives and he and his team are always available.”
ABIC plans to liaise with schools, churches, clubs and other organisations to broaden community involvement in the programme.
Mr Winchell outlined why ABIC members wanted to get involved.
He said: “For almost 60 years, KBB has addressed many of Bermuda’s needs including working to reduce illegal dumping and littering along the Railway Trail.
“ABIC promotes a sound business environment for international business and the Bermuda community and we are very pleased that 17 ABIC members have partnered with KBB to help maintain the quality of the Bermuda Railway Trail experience.
“The Railway Trail is the green necklace that connects all of Bermuda – thanks to everyone engaged in this important project.”
Mr Winchell also thanked Ms Cox and Cheyne Capital for identifying the opportunity and “leading this important work”.
The move was praised by KBB’s executive director, Katie Berry, who said that ABIC’s efforts had energised the Adopt-A-Spot scheme.
Ms Berry said: “The Railway Trail is Bermuda’s biggest open space. It is unique in that it winds from one end of the island to the other through neighbourhoods allowing people a safe place to walk, exercise and take their children.
“All of Bermuda is not far from a section of the trail. With use comes litter and we know that the most used sections of the trail have the most litter. Having volunteers out regularly who are committed to that particular section is invaluable.
“It keeps the litter under control but also it allows KBB to address illegal dumping and other issues such as overgrown vegetation and overflowing bins.”
Ms Berry said that the programme had been running for many years but needed “a new infusion of engagement”.
She added: “The KBB board felt strongly that the premise of engaging people to care about an area of the island they love or live near was the right idea – we just need more people to get involved.
“Getting companies and their employees involved would provide a regular rotation of volunteers along the trail – cleaning up but also a set of eyes on each part of the trail feeding back information about the state of the trail.
“ABIC and Cynthia connected me with a group of companies who were interested and ready to commit, saving KBB hours of time. These types of introductions make all the difference to a tiny non-profit like KBB.
“Each ABIC member company who has adopted a section of the trail is doing something different; each section has different needs. For example, some areas are more heavily used and littered than others and some companies are smaller than others.
“KBB is working really hard to engage the public through various programmes and education to get people to care. There is no doubt when people feel someone cares, they are more likely to care as well.
“Having ABIC and the Railway Trail project organisations support is the best example of this. Together we care about Bermuda – the environment and the communities we live and work in.”
KBB is now pushing for organisations to adopt public parks – another area it claims needs to be addressed.
Ms Berry said: “KBB is so much more than just cleaning up. It’s also about education and creating community and pride across neighbourhoods. We are lucky to have a tribe of KBB champions who assist with looking after the trail, for whom we are so thankful – they are unsung heroes.
“It is wonderful to magnify their volunteer work with the assistance of ABIC and this project. When individuals, organisations and community groups come together positive things can happen.”