Government has declared the Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago a national heritage site.
A ministry release last week reported this was done under Section 5 (b) of the National Trust Act, Chapter 40:53. The Reserve is one of the forests and protected areas of TT.
“This provides for the National Trust of TT, which is part of the Ministry of Planning and Development, to permanently reserve lands that are property of interest and as far as practicable, retaining their natural features and conserving the animal and plant life. The broader aim is to next have the site declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO,” the ministry said.
The ministry reported the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) approved this motion in March 2018, promoting the Main Ridge Forest reserve as a protected area as part of a Tobago Protected Area Assistance Plan focusing on northeast Tobago.
The THA had appointed a team to compile the necessary information to produce the National Heritage dossier in keeping with the guidelines set out by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, which will be of major importance to the nomination of World Heritage Status by UNESCO.
The plan also covered the marine protected area which includes Little Tobago, Goat Island, St Giles Island, all of which belong to the State and were already deemed protected areas.
This decision would help save the reefs and mangroves in these areas, said the ministry.
These initiatives, it said, all seek to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of the cultural and natural heritage of the area, which were considered of outstanding value.
TT ratified the UNESCO World Heritage Convention in February 2005.
The ministry also said, “TT stands to benefit from the inscription of the Tobago Main Ridge on the World Heritage List not only from an environmental conservation standpoint, because the Government believes that tourism development, heritage conservation and protection, education and awareness as well as social and economic development are all areas where significant benefits can be acquired for TT.”