New Issue of ProtectEd Newsletter

The new issue of the newsletter ProtectEd has been released.  This December 2019 issue marks the last release of the newsletter as the IFPAMTT project has entered its last five months.  The IFPAMTT project team is thankful for all readers and feedback received from them over the past four years.  Please enjoy reading this issue and share with your networks!  You can access the latest issue at this link.

Official handover of Enforcement Officer resources

The official handover of new resources to various Enforcement Officer teams took place on 11th December 2019 at a brief event hosted by the Improving Forest and Protected Area Management in Trinidad and Tobago project.  These resources - An Enforcement Officers Guidebook, Standard operating Procedure, and Quick Reference Card - will assist officers in identifying protected areas, the environmental laws governing their use and improve efficiency and networking for environmental management and enforcement.  The handover event was addressed by Ms Melanie Noel, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Development and Mr. Reuben Robertson, Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname.  Agencies whose representatives were on hand to receive the resources included the Environmental Management Authority, the Forestry Division and Wildlife Section, and the Municipal Police.  Other enforcement agencies will receive packages of resources in coming weeks.

Workshops test Forest Monitoring Protocols

A series of workshops were held with stakeholders recently in Trinidad and Tobago to test procedures for the development of Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Protocols.  The workshops were held at Melajo in east Trinidad for the benefit of stakeholders connected to forests at the Matura National Park Environmentally Sensitive Area and the Trinity Hills Wildlife Sanctuary.  The Tobago workshop was hosted at the Main Ridge Forest Reserve.  Stakeholders participated first in a 'classroom' session, in which they were briefed on the parameters for monitoring and the data sheets that will be used in these exercises.  After this, a field session was undertaken, in which they began to use various pieces of equipment and observation skills to capture the required information.  The workshops were well attended by formal managers from Government agencies as well as non-government stakeholders including community groups, environmental groups and educators.  The test protocols are being refined following feedback received from the workshop participants and a report on the activity will be developed in due course.

Media event to share highlights of socioeconomic survey

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recently hosted a media event to share the findings of a recently concluded socioeconomic survey of communities surrounding protected areas in Trinidad and Tobago.  This survey was undertaken during the months of September and October 2019, in order to find out whether persons who live in close proximity to these sites are i) aware of the protected area status, ii) extracting product from these sites and/or iii) engaging with these sites in a sustainable manner to fulfill livelihood needs.

This survey was undertaken with the assistance of the Central Statistical Office and was supported by a Technical Backstopping Team of economists, who developed the final report.  A brief presentation on the preliminary findings is given at this link.

New signage installed for protected areas

November 13th 2019 marked a significant day in the IFPAMTT project, with the unveiling of new signage at protected areas.  The Matura National Park Environmentally Sensitve Area was the first of six pilot protected areas of focus in the project to be bestowed with these simple yet significant features which are intended to aid in building awareness and valuing of protected areas.  The ceremony to unveil these signs took place at a main entryway to the ESA, at the corner of Salybia-Matura Trace and Toco Main Road in the village of Salybia.  Senator the Hon. Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries and Mr. Reuben Robertson, Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization for Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname took part in the unveiling ceremony after addressing a small gathering of about 60 persons; several members of the surrounding community were present at the ceremony. 

A total of 30 signs will be mounted around the ESA, with some of these located within the communities that surround the site.  A survey of persons in these communities that was undertaken in 2016 revealed that persons who lived outside of the village of Matura had little or no connection with the Park that has "Matura" in its name.  As a result of this, stakeholders on the Project Subcommittee associated with the site decided that apart from boundary-demarcating signs, information signs that highlight key assets of the Park should be mounted in these communities, headlined with the words "In Your Neighbourhood" to stimulate a closer connection with the area.  

Similar signage exercises are expected to take place around four more protected areas in the coming months with the intent of building interest, knowledge and appreciation of the value of these sites.