UK Minister of State Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Minister for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, visited the Caroni Swamp on Thursday.
The Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) has been doing a UK-funded Mangrove Soil Carbon Sequestration Assessment project there.
Trevelyan was also appointed the UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) president in November 2020.
She said she was pleased with the work being done by the IMA in the swamps.
“It’s been an absolute privilege to come here and see for myself the work that’s going on to understand in much more depth the importance of the mangrove,” she said. “One of the challenges we’ve had as part of our climate-change mission to get back on track is both to protect what we have and to understand it better.
"The mangrove is one of the best sources of holding carbon, and we need to make sure to project those that are there and to replant more ,so this is a really exciting project.”
In a statement, the British High Commission said the project supports TT in quantifying the value of its natural resources in mangroves and wetlands and supports TTs own strides in protecting and conservating wetlands and biodiversity which face challenges caused by rising sea levels.
“This project will enable TT to trade carbon internationally and support the economy while combatting climate change,” said the statement.
“The comprehensive, high-quality data collected will help develop more targeted evidence-based conservation policies for TTs 7,500 hectares of mangroves, while enabling the country to earn foreign exchange income for mangrove preservation in the future.”
IMA director Dr Rahanna Juman said the project is a big accomplishment for the institute, which has been doing research in the mangrove forests for over 40 years.
“I’m so happy we’re getting data and people are seeing how important our mangroves are and seeing that they need to be a part of the conservation effort,” said Juman.
She said the project has been important in understanding conservation strategy and economy initiatives through which TT can trade on the carbon market.
“We are highly industrialised. A lot of companies can (also) participate in rehabilitating ecosystems like mangroves to offset their carbon footprint.”
Juman said initial data from the project has revealed the mangroves store four times more carbon dioxide than terrestrial forests in TT.
“We haven’t compared (the data) to other regions as yet. It’s still preliminary work. But that’s the intention.
"We have the opportunity to network with experts throughout the Commonwealth to compare and use similar methodologies to see how things are in other parts of the world.
Trevelyan said the Caroni Swamp is central to helping people understand about mangroves and the wildlife within it. She said it provides an opportunity for ecotourism to educate others on the importance of the mangrove.
British High Commissioner Harriet Cross said tens of thousands of pounds were invested in the project. “As much as it is a financial contribution, it’s also about the technical expertise in a programme like this,” she said. “You’ve got credible experts in TT and putting those minds together with those in the UK creates spectacular results.”
During her visit to TT, Trevelyan also met with the private sector and government to discuss collaborative efforts in TT's transition to clean energy and meeting environmental commitments as the country builds its resistance to climate change.
The statement said the UK High Commission has also offered institutional capacity-building support to the Ministry of Planning and Development towards the operationalisation of a dedicated Monitoring Reporting and Verification (MRV) system as part of the Air Unit at the Environmental Management Authority (EMA)
Trevelyan’s visit comes ahead of the UK hosting the 26th UN COP26 in November.