Cabinet has accepted a National Protected Areas Systems Plan, proposing to protect approximately 20,000 square kilometres of protected land and marine space in TT. This is part of the Government’s policy to preserve biodiversity and improve the management of protected areas. This announcement was made at a forest replanting exercise on Corpus Christi last Thursday in Chaguaramas.
A release from the Ministry of Planning and Development said the aim of the plan was to identify areas in TT that were in need of protection so that the biodiversity in forests and other wildlife can thrive.
The new plan proposes the establishment of 136 protected areas. Those include 92 terrestrial and freshwater areas, 79 of which are in Trinidad and 13 in Tobago; 40 coastal and marine areas, 18 in Trinidad and 22 in Tobago; and four deep-sea marine areas. In total, approximately 1,933 sq km – 1,866 sq km in Trinidad and 67 sq km in Tobago – of the country’s land mass is proposed to be land and freshwater protected areas. The proposed coastal and marine protected areas approximate to 580 sq km – 14 sq km in Trinidad and 566 sq km in Tobago. The proposed open-ocean waters and deep-sea marine areas cover 15,600 sq km.
Some of the areas are part of a pilot plan because of their globally important biodiversity and ecosystems which include the Caroni Swamp, the Nariva Swamp and coastal zone, the Matura Forest and coastal zone, the Trinity Hills, the Main Ridge Forest Reserve and the North East Tobago Marine Protected Area.
A number of stakeholders participated in a series of consultations with the Planning Ministry such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Forestry Division; the Institute of Marine Affairs; the Environmental Management Authority (EMA); the Tobago House of Assembly; non-governmental organisations; and local universities. The National Protected Areas Systems Plan is an intervention coming out of the project titled: Improving forest and protected area management in TT, the implementation of which is being co-ordinated by the Planning Ministry and administered by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO/UN) on behalf of the Government.
The project was done over the last four years – from 2015 to 2019 – at a total cost of US$30,510,074. Funding was provided by the TT Government, FAO/UN, the European Union and the Global Environment Fund. More information can be found on the Project Website: www.protectedareastt.org.tt.