August 3, 2017: A national website for forest and protected areas – www.protectedareastt.org.tt was launched at a brief ceremony on Thursday 3rd August at the Conference Room of the Environmental Management Authority in St. Clair.
Senator the Honourable Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries in his brief address spoke of the importance of ‘our appetite for implementation, monitoring and evaluation as a country’ of the many Legislation and Policies that we develop. He shared that ‘if as a Region we continue to just create Agencies, acronyms and projects and we do not seek the full implementation of them, we will then be creating a [plethora] of half-baked, half-resourced Agencies that will not be able to see to our needs as a Region’. He favorably compared this notion with the Project – ‘Improving Forest and Protected Area Management in Trinidad and Tobago’, saying that it ‘deals not only with the identification of what is needed, the generation of data and information, but also the interaction with people which this Project is intended to serve and support’. He also addressed the issue of ‘an appreciation of the socio-economic importance of hunting to rural communities’.
He reminded the audience of his commitment to this Project and shared with them that the Wildlife Conservation Committee has since been appointed; and that the Wetlands Conservation Committee is under consideration.
This website is a key communication product of the Project which is currently being administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO/UN) on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The website is intended to be the main repository of information on forest and protected areas. It will initially provide profiles of six pilot sites in which the current project is focused: the Caroni Swamp, Nariva Swamp, Matura Forest and coastal zone, Trinity Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago and the North East Tobago Marine pilot protected area. The profiles include notes on their location, boundaries, legal designation, socio-economic description, wildlife assets and management.
Dr. Terri Raney, Senior Policy Officer, Officer in Charge Food and Agriculture Organization, Trinidad and Tobago noted that ‘these conservation objectives establish a clear statement about the purpose of the designation of each site as a protected area’. And, Dr. Marissa Gowrie, Deputy Environmental Manager, Environmental Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Planning and Development said that ‘this website will provide access to current and regularly updated information on biodiversity via an online database [and this] is one giant step toward the establishment of [the] national biodiversity information system’. Dr. Gowrie also extended hearty congratulations to all those who ‘contributed to the development of this website.
This online resource will increase visibility and promote the activities, outputs and outcomes of the current project and provide access to current and regularly updated information on species diversity in Trinidad and Tobago. Key outputs also include the development of a National Protected Area System Plan, management plans for all six pilot sites and a Management Information System for forest and protected areas. Key messages will also be promoted on forest and protected areas in Trinidad and Tobago, towards their sustainability and the building of public awareness and engagement in the management of these areas.
Distinguished guests included Mrs. Nadra Nathai-Gyan, Chairman, Environmental Management Authority; Mr. Hayden Romano, Managing Director, Environmental Management Authority; Ms. Toylan Arneaud, Director (Ag.), Institute of Marine Affairs; Mr. Courtenay Park, Conservator of Forests, Forestry Division, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries; Mr. Clarence Bacchus, Forestry Advisor, Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries.