AGRICULTURE Minister Clarence Rambharat says the rock slide in Maracas earlier this month which blocked off part of the North Coast Road was due to trees and an exercise was under way to have them removed.
He was speaking to the media yesterday during a tree planting exercise as part of the Citizens for Conservation Queen’s Park Savannah Bicentennial Celebration held opposite the entrance to President’s House. The trees were donated by the horticultural services division of the Agriculture Ministry.
He said the rock slide in Maracas was due to trees planted a long time ago and over a period of time the roots destabilised the rock structure and with the weight triggered some of the land slides. He said an exercise with the Works Ministry on the North Coast and through Maracas up to Blanchisseuse is aimed at removing some of the trees and also replanting.
“My philosophy is every time you remove a tree you must plant more than one tree somewhere else in the country.”
He said an area selected for tree planting is the area between the zoo and the Botanical Gardens up to Chancellor. They selected fruit trees to attract the wild life in the city.
On the tree planting exercise, he said the ministry would be distributing and planting 200 plants for the anniversary. He said 50 were being planted in the Savannah to replace trees that were removed or had fallen and distributing 150 more.
Rambharat said the height of the hurricane season was beginning and “we don’t know what to expect later on.” He said the ministry has had a very active season and the strongest weather system was Tropical Storm Bret. He said before, during and after Bret the effects of rainfall and wind on trees were visible. He reported that at the savannah they lost some trees and parts of others.
He said he is concerned about the health of the trees.
“Some of these trees are over a hundred years old. He said over a period of time you would have had rotting at the base and rotting underground which is difficult to see." He said there was training this year for municipal corporations, the Tobago House of Assembly and ministries using a Trinidad-born US expert. They also trained members of the public on managing and maintaining trees. He said they are also acquiring equipment which will allow them to monitor and determine the health of the trees.
He also complained of people using their vehicles in the savannah and leaving deep tyre tracks and leaving trash like bottles following their events.
“You come to the savannah to enjoy it. This is 200 years ago it was given as a gift to the people. Taxpayers’ resources are used to maintain it and keep it in a condition that everybody could enjoy.”
He said they were speaking with the Canadian government on a project for the savannah.
Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez supported planting more trees in the heart of the capital.
“We are looking at a programme of restoration of areas where we have earmarked for trees over the years and we are trying to include the private citizens and the business community to get involved in replanting the trees and maintaining them.”
The bicentennial celebrations end this evening with a savannah stroll and educational tour from 4 pm and a live bandstand music and family picnic from 5 pm.