Trinidad and Tobago
Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Project
Trinidad and Tobago contains a wide array of biological rich ecosystems. On the terrestrial side, it includes seven types of forest, which provide a wide range of habitats supporting 426 species of birds, over 100 species of mammals, 70 species of reptiles and over 600 species of butterflies. A number of these species are endemic. The coastal and marine areas of the two islands contain a rich biological diversity of ecosystems that are of significant regional and global importance, in particular, mangroves, coastal swamps and coral reefs. They also contain many plants, small invertebrate and vertebrate species, including endangered ones such as the leather back turtle. A number of these sites have been identified for global and regional priority, are considered among the “Global 200” list of top global priority ecoregions by WWF, and have been designated as Ramsar sites.
In the absence of appropriate regulations, technical guidelines and monitoring, there are a number of threats to T&T’s renewable natural resource base. The increased pace of industrialization has led to pollution from the petrochemical and agro-processing industries, particularly through disposal of untreated or poorly treated industrial wastes into waterways. Agricultural, industrial and urban development, together with uncontrolled exploitation are threatening these ecosystems and some species of plants and animals are on the verge of extinction. Tourism development, for example, without adequate environmental safeguards and monitoring, has caused severe damage to coral reefs off the coast of Tobago.
The wetlands and marine ecosystems are under threat from a range of problems mostly caused by anthropic factors. In addition to the generic examples given above, these areas are being impacted by the following activities: (i) drainage or conversion of swamps for agricultural purposes; (ii) pollution from misuse of agricultural chemicals, discharge of industrial effluent, sedimentation from quarrying and untreated domestic sewage; (iii) damage from uncontrolled recreational activities including collection of rare species for souvenirs; (iv) illegal hunting and extraction of timber resources; and (v) uncontrolled fires. Although it has not been possible to assign priority to each of these threats their overall impact has caused considerable concern.
There are also a number of key sector issues that need to be addressed:
Policy, Legal and Regulatory Framework: The existing legal and regulatory framework for conservation and protection of the nation’s ecosystems does not adequately address many issues of current concern. Several laws are outdated. For example, the key legislation relating to forested areas dates back to 1915 and makes no provision to address issues such as national parks, wildlife management, recreation and community participation in natural resource management. The Conservation of Wildlife legislation does not provide for protection of a significant number of ecosystems where endangered species occur. Marine legislation does not cover management of marine protected areas.
Institutional Weaknesses: There are several weaknesses in the institutional framework and in individual organizations. The Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Marine Resources (MALMR), and, in Tobago, the Agricultural Lands and Marketing Division (ALMD), Tobago House of Assembly (THA), are responsible for the conservation and management of the country’s ecosystems, state-owned agricultural lands and forested lands but have insufficient human and budgetary resources to fulfill these responsibilities.
Sector Issues to be Addressed
The proposed project would provide an opportunity to address the institutional constraints that impede the protection and conservation of Trinidad and Tobago’s renewable natural resources, and to introduce participatory management systems for protected areas (PAs). The project’s approach is based on a number of strategic choices:
Policy, Legal and Regulatory Framework: Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) is committed to halt and reverse the current trend of environmental degradation. It has embarked on a strategy to address these issues through comprehensive review and reform of the policy, legal and institutional framework for natural resource management, and by implementation of several complementary investment programs. New legislation (now awaiting Parliamentary approval) includes: the National Parks and Protected Areas Bill together with the Conservation of Wildlife Bill, through which the Protected Areas and Wildlife Authority (PAWA) is to be established. A national wetlands policy has been prepared in draft which identifies specific sites as priorities for conservation. Following public consultations the policy now awaits Cabinet approval. The policy emphasizes the principles of no net loss and wise use, community participation, together with public awareness and education.
Institutional Strengthening. Gaps in the legal and regulatory framework, together with weaknesses in the key agencies, limit the ability to effectively manage the country’s natural resources. The project offers the opportunity to overcome these constraints. Once legislation is passed to establish the new PAWA, the institutional vacuum would be filled for the integrated management of protected areas (both terrestrial and marine) and conservation of wildlife resources. The project would equip the Authority with the resources necessary to effectively administer new and existing laws, to implement sustainable management practices, including establishment of national parks, and to improve the capability for enforcement.
Implementation of Improved Natural Resources Management Practices. To halt and eventually reverse the trend of environmental degradation requires introduction of innovative and socially compatible management practices to accompany the proposed institutional reforms.
Sites Proposed for Protection
Based on the priority for protection assigned by GORTT in the draft protected areas legislation and the Wetlands Policy, six sites were selected for establishment as protected areas through the proposed project, three terrestrial locations to be designated as national parks (Matural and Maracas in Trinididad, Main Ridge in Tobago) and two coastal ecosystems to be designated as managed conservation areas (Nariva and Caroni Swamps in Trinidad), and Speyside in Tobago, to be designated as a marine protected area.
The coastal and marine areas contain biodiversity of significant regional and global importance:
Nariva Swamp covers 6,234 ha comprising distinct zones of swamp forest, palm swamp, herbaceous swamp and mangrove woodland. It supports large numbers of waterfowl and is the main wetland in Trinidad containing the habitats of the endangered West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) and anaconda (Eunectes murinus). Other important flora and fauna include palmiste palm (Roystonea oleracea), red-bellied macaw (Ara manilata), cascadura (Hoplosternum littorale) and the conch (Pomacea urceus). A number of species is harvested by local communities for consumption and commercial gain. The blue and yellow macaw (Ara ararauna) is now extirpated from the area as a result of habitat destruction, poaching and unsustainable harvesting of the palmiste palm on which it depended. In addition, stocks of the cascadura and conch are depleted as a result of over harvesting.
Caroni Swamp encompasses 5,611 ha of mainly mangrove forests, predominantly red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), and herbaceous swamps. It is the largest brackish water ecosystem in the country. It is the major roosting and nesting habitat of the country’s national bird, the scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber) and is a breeding area for commercial marine species. The swamp also supports over one hundred and fifty species of avifauna , including migratory species, which is approximately one third of the national total. Other important fauna found there include, the silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus), the crab eating racoon (Procyon cancrivorous), over twenty four species of fin fish, and the oyster (Crassostrea rhizophorae). Extensive commercial rice farming in the surrounding areas to the east of the swamp, together with earlier attempts at agricultural development has impacted negatively on the hydrology of the swamp. A number of nearby communities are heavily dependent on its resources for their livelihood. Their activities include fishing, crab catching, oyster harvesting and ecotourism.
The Speyside marine area is located along 10.8 km of coastline in northeast Tobago. It comprises of six major reef areas, Goat Island and Little Tobago Island Wildlife Sanctuary which contains important bird habitats. There is significant marine biodiversity in the area, including a large number of invertebrate species representing thirty nine genera of hydrozoans, octocorals, zoanthids, stony corals and black corals. There are sixty five species of fish fauna of which thirteen are apparently endemic. Artisanal fishing, yachting and ecotourism including diving and bird watching are the main socio-economic activities that impact on the natural resources of the area.
GEF incremental cost support would be requested for activities at these marine and coastal sites with global significance.
The proposed Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Project is intended to improve the management of Trinidad and Tobago’s protected areas and wildlife resources. The main expected results of the project are: (i) strengthening of the legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the management of protected areas and wildlife; (ii) effective management of proposed national parks, other protected areas and wildlife; and (iii) a framework for community development and participation in the national parks and other protected areas to be established through the project. The project would comprise three components: (i) establishment of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Authority (PAWA); (ii) establishment of national parks and other protected areas; and (iii) community development.
The global objective of the project is to safeguard the biodiversity of Trinidad and Tobago through the conservation and sustainable management of coastal and marine ecosystems that are of regional and global importance. This would be achieved through: (i) the establishment and effective management of Nariva and Caroni Swamps as managed resources areas, and Speyside as a Marine National Park; (ii) supporting the involvement of local communities in the conservation of biodiversity; and (iii) promoting the sustainable use of resources through the participatory development and implementation of strategies and action plans with the involvement of local communities. The project design is fully consistent with the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity and with the GEF Operational Strategy and specifically with its Operational Program for Coastal, Marine and Freshwater ecosystems.
Overall management and coordination would be the responsibility of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Authority, while decentralized management structures would be established for each protected area, including arrangements for co-management or delegation to NGOs/CBOs as appropriate.
Incremental Cost Assessment Summary
Baseline. In the absence of GEF support the main source of funds for some of the above activities would be the proposed IBRD loan. However, the newly established Authority would not have sufficient funds to consolidate the coastal and marine sites as conservation areas together with the proposed terrestrial national parks. Some small amounts of grant funds would likely be available to finance a limited number of pilot activities, together with subventions from central government. Through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) financed Environmental Rehabilitation Project a visitor center and ancillary infrastructure including boardwalks and a bird viewing tower, were constructed at Caroni Swamp. A study was also executed with the use of limited grant funds to begin preparation of a management plan for Caroni aimed at restoration of the hydrology and the habitat for the Scarlet Ibis. However, there were no funds available to complete the development and implementation of the plan. For the Nariva Swamp, listed as a Ramsar site, management guidance procedures have been prepared by a Ramsar technical mission. Small grants have been provided by Ramsar for a number of pilot activities. Limited funds have also been made available through international NGOs for community fire fighting and pilot restoration of habitats. With the exception of monitoring and enforcement by the Tobago House of Assembly there have been no significant conservation activities undertaken in the Speyside marine area.
The GEF Alternative: GEF support would complement IBRD and GORTT funds to be provided under the project and would be used to finance the following activities: (i) establishment and effective management of Nariva and Caroni Swamps as managed resources areas, and Speyside as a Marine National Park; (ii) contribution to the development of alternative livelihoods and sustainable resource use in the surrounding areas; (iii) strategic studies to examines the impact of pollution on coastal and marine biodiversity and workshops to arrive at consensus among stakeholders on appropriate mitigatory strategies; and (iv) capacity building of local NGOs and community organizations.
It is estimated that overall project costs would be US$18 million. Of this sum, it is expected that IBRD would provide US$12 million in loan funds and GORTT would provide US$3 million in counterpart contribution. About US$3 million would be required from the GEF to finance the incremental costs of introduction of conservation measures to protect and preserve the significant biodiversity contained in the threatened coastal and marine ecosystems of Trinidad and Tobago and to promote sustainable resource use. Long term sustainability would be achieved through the establishment of a national conservation trust fund, visitor fees, and collaborative arrangements with national and international NGO’s.
Status of Project Preparation
A significant body of preparatory work has already been accumulated under the proposed project. Detailed feasibility studies have been completed for the three proposed terrestrial parks, and a social assessment has been conducted for those areas. The social assessment led to the design of the component focusing on community development. The institutional framework for implementation would be in place with establishment of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Authority (Sam: expected when ??). The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has made funds available from its annual budget, together with funds provided under a complementary IBRD project to finance preparation work for activities eligible for GEF support. Therefore, completion of this work would not require PDF resources. Consultants have been hired to undertake the social assessment at the proposed marine and coastal sites, as well as remaining feasibility work. It is intended to submit the request for GEF project funding to the Intersessional bilateral review meeting planned for January 2000. Project appraisal is scheduled immediately thereafter, and is expected to take place in January/February.
08/20/99 5:39 AM