A new project to beautify and enhance the Nariva Swamp to bring about investments and economic development to the community which surrounds it is set to begin soon.
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) is collaborating with Inter-American Development Bank Innovation Laboratory (IDB Lab) to innovate a business model for ecotourism in the Nariva Swamp. It lies on the east coast of Trinidad and runs from Manzanilla Bay through Biche.
The initiative “Creating a community-driven, sustainable cluster and brand to transform ecotourism in Nariva Swamp, TT,” which is yet to be launched, was a CANARI-led project. Nariva Swamp was one of eight successful concepts selected from 214 applications from 15 Central American and Caribbean countries for the Beyond Tourism Challenge organised by the IDB Lab and UN World Tourism Organisation.
According to CANARI, the initiative seeks to promote sustainable approaches to tourism as part of pandemic recovery efforts, emphasising innovative and disruptive technologies.
“Promoting the importance of supporting nature-based enterprises in rural communities as a key component in Caribbean covid19 recovery strategies to provide economic opportunities to the poor and vulnerable, protect and restore nature, and address climate change,” CANARI said.
It further noted the importance of the Nariva Swamp, as it is the largest wetland in TT and a designated a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
CANARI added that studies have shown its high ecotourism potential for economic development and poverty reduction in the area.
It said, “Only limited ecotourism activities presently exist in the wetland by a few informal, small and microenterprises (SMEs) such as boat tour operators, food and beverage vendors, fishermen, farmers and craft vendors.”
Branded as “Experience Nariva” CANARI said the idea would be to create a connection with the local community to strengthen SMEs through small business support via training, mentoring, coaching and financing via a small grant facility.
“Community members will be trained to use Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) and citizen science tools to help them lead on decision-making on ecotourism and sustainable use of Nariva Swamp,” CANARI said.
The initiative will build on recent work in the Nariva Swamp under the “Improving Forest and Protected Area Management in TT” implemented by UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
CANARI said it has been providing technical support for the development of the draft protected area management plan and has been working closely with the Environmental Management Authority, the Forestry Division, civil society organisations and others.