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Environment TO BAGO new slett er

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n vi r on m e n t TOBAGO (ET) is a nongovernment, non-profit, volunteer organisation , not subsidized by any one group, corporation or government body. Founded in 1995, ET is a proactive advocacy group that campaigns against negative environmental activities throughout Tobago. We achieve this through a variety of community and environmental outreach programmes. Environment TOBAGO is funded mainly through grants and membership fees. These funds go back into implementing our projects. We are grateful to all our sponsors over the years and thank them for their continued support

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hat’s inside

ET’s achievements

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Ecology Notes

4

Articles

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Book Review

13

What’s Happening @ ET

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Notes to contributors

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Volume 6 Issue 2

June 2011

World Environment Day 2011 Environment Tobago A definitive lack of activities to celebrate world Environment Day in Tobago from all sources, NGO and Department Of Natural Resources encouraged ET members to put on a display to remind the island residents of the natural treasures that we are the stewards of. Environment TOBAGO hosted an information booth at the Lowland’s Mall in commemoration of World Environment Day on June 3 & 4th, 2011. We had a very good turnout at our booth/ exhibition on both days. Passers-by were curious as to what was happening. We had a very informative display with lots of photos of nature scenes in addition to ET merchandise and biodiversity handouts, brochures, A passer-by looking at the display books etc. ET Brochures were distributed and we had a lot of interest shown in the biodiversity displays. Eight visitors to the booth become members on that day and expressed an interest in working with us. Additionally, there were a few people who asked about was being done to preserve and protect the turtle habitats and nesting grounds in Tobago, as we had some scenes of some turtle related incidents in Tobago. Information on SOS (Save our Sea turtles) and NEST (North East Sea Turtles) was handed out. Our display included pictures of nature and scenery endemic to Tobago as well as Trinidad from Environment TOBAGO archives and TriniEco Warriors. We believe that the 2 day exhibition helped in raising awareness of the environment and what can be done to preserve it. On Sunday 5th June, World Environment Day- Environment Tobago participated in the EMA- Green Lifestyle Show at the Some ET products for sale Trinidad Hilton. Our material and brochures were on display.


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Environment TOBAGO newsletter

Wetlands and Forests Environment Tobago June 2011 Editor: Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Assistant Editor: Christopher K. Starr Design & Layout: Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Technical Support: Jerome Ramsoondar Enid Nobbee Contributors: Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Christopher K. Starr Bertrand Bhikkary Environment TOBAGO Photographs: Environment TOBAGO

Board of Directors 2010-2012 President:: Patricia Turpin Vice-President: Bertrand Bhikkary Secretary: Wendy Austin Treasurer: Shirley Mc Kenna Committee members: William Trim Fitzherbert Phillips Geoffrey Lewis Rupert McKenna Claudette Allard David Antoine Darren Henry

Environment Tobago celebrated World Wetlands Day 2011 with weeklong activities that centered on this year's theme, Wetlands and Forests. Environment Tobago collaborated with partners from different sectors including NGOs, private businesses and community-based organisations. NGOs Belle Garden Wetland Association University of the West Indies Biological Society Coral Cay Conservation Commercial Enterprises Pablo's Supermarket Eden Nurseries Eco Project Ltd. Activities were focused within the Belle Garden Wetland and supported an existing UNDP/GEF funded initiative to increase awareness of wetlands and proactively encourage sustainable use of the Belle Garden Wetland. Belle Garden Wetland faced an excessively harsh dry season and forest fires in 2010. Environment Tobago and its collaborators undertook reforestation activities within this area using native plants sourced and propagated by the local landscaping company, Eden Nurseries. Environment Tobago also sought to enhance an area within the wetland as designated habitat for butterflies and birds by planting a concentration of nectar and food plants for species previously identified in the wetland. Butterflies and blue crabs (Cardisoma guanhum) were used as indicator species for ecological baseline surveys. Blue crabs were chosen as they are a keystone species within the wetland ecosystem. Butterflies were surveyed because they are a bioindicator species of environmental health. In Tobago, the blue crab is highly valued as a national dish. Over the years, crab populations have faced overexploitation and significant environmental pressure including habitat loss. Local hunters have indicated that that crab numbers and sizes are declining. This decline has also been seen elsewhere in the Caribbean. Tertiary students and other interested parties were educated in the importance the wetlands and trained in field surveying techniques for indicator species. Students were given hands-on experience in field surveying techniques, data collection and analysis. Children at the local primary school neighbouring the wetland participated in interactive learning stations that covered topics such as the importance of wetlands and forests, wetland bio-indicators and threats to wetlands. Using print media, articles were published in the local paper highlighting wetland issues. “My experience in Tobago cannot be described only as enjoyable and unforgettable, but also learning and informative. From counting crab holes at the beach to teaching primary school children about butterflies, the essential part of my Tobago experience was enjoying what I did, in the process of learning about human impact on our fragile ecosystem.”- Zachary Charran, Year II University student “Environment Tobago is doing a great job with awareness of the issues to the communities. I


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learnt about the blue crab situation and butterflies which I had no clue about. I gained a lot of new experiences, I have never worked with primary school children before and it was very interesting and fun. I am grateful for these experiences and memories and I look forward to working with the group again.� - Sophia Dhanraj, Final Year University student

Students that participated in training programmes offered for the Belle Garden Wetland project

GREAT NEWS!! Environment TOBAGO receives Rockefeller grant for Environmental Education


Environment TOBAGO newsletter

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ECOLOGY NOTES The aliases of detritus Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies Detritus is basically dead plant and animal material, including the old skin from moulting animals and faecal matter. This may sound “yucky” but it is a basic and essential component to both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In terrestrial ecosystems, detritus is referred to as leaf litter. Detritus is also one of the components of soil, where when mixed with soil, it is called humus. In aquatic ecosystems it is referred to as marine snow (when suspended in water). But whatever form it is found it, its functions and environmental benefits remain the same. It is needed by ecosystems to go from primary succession to secondary succession. When an area is severely disturbed by a forest fire, for example, the area seems devoid of life. However, one of the first colonisers of the area includes grasses, but in order for larger plants and trees to grow in the area there must be a build-up of organic material. The damp, humid conditions make it ideal to support its own set of organisms, mostly microorganisms; therefore it acts as an ecosystem. Besides acting as a home to some organisms, detritus is a food for other, such as, the insect larvae of some species. However, those that use this for food are mainly found in aquatic habitats. So everything, no matter how “yucky” plays a role in maintaining our ecosystems.

ARTICLES INTEGRATED COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT. The sure cure for Buccoo Bertrand Bhikarry- Environment TOBAGO Why this talk of managing the reef? Why now? Why wasn't it done before? What if we don't? In reality our big problem isn't in the polluted water that cycles permanently in and around Buccoo. Nor is it virtually unrestricted access by the public at large to a very sensitive environment. The problem facing our reef actually resides in our heads. So Integrated Coastal Zone Management is really an effort to remove the stumbling blocks that bureaucracy and blockheads pose. In diplomatic wording it's best described as a strategy for effective control of our natural resources. Political correctness aside, the facts are in. A dead reef will impact our quality of life, it may make irreversible changes on the islands Beach diagram ecosystem. Buccoo, as a prime example of a dy-


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Environment TOBAGO newsletter

ing reef, has already provided some indication that its ailing health will affect its satellite human population. To think of the Buccoo Reef Park as the kidneys of our ecosystem is to understand the financial impact it has on our economic lifeblood - which is tourism. If ICM ties in the functions of state agencies under whose authority sections of reef real estate falls, it also hopes to coerce the users of the reef itself. Hence the drive by the Environmental Management Authority to designate the area as an ESA, a sensitive marine park. Buccoo must be protected from the negative attentions of the wider public as well, especially homeowners and holiday-makers whose domestic wastes drain into the reef zone. However it's not an automatic response for any of those groups to seek the reefs interest. Most are merely bent on doing the things civilized people do in developing economies - that's making money, and enjoying it.

Beach erosion Tobago “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. �

Studley Park: in need of an alternative future Bertrand Bhikarry- Environment TOBAGO Recently, some wag made the rather impertinent suggestion that I stop writing loads of crap in the Tobago News each week. I should use the time instead to do something about the load of crap at - say Studley Park. Oh dear, Oh dear. In truth it's not a mission that I chose to accept, but it remained with me, that those who ought to do something about our municipal wastes have also opted out. However 'they' in Tobago are an elusive bunch, and forgive me for thinking it's not only a matter for the Health Division staff; the problem requires some political will. A bit of public involvement might also help. Studley Park. The name is now so much of a misnomer I thought to ask the Ministry of Tobago Development to rename it along with their other fancies, but then again, who'd listen to me? Several years ago, at about the time my neighbors first child was born, the Dump (local name - hopefully subject to change) was already over its limits. These days the Studley Park Spillway oozes its leachate into the stream and the Studley Park bay, and my neighbour's child, now grown, drives unseeingly, blissfully past it in a bling SUV, complete with aircon and 'bess' stereo. Environment Tobago has a long running battle with the Dump, over two dec-


Environment TOBAGO newsletter

ades as it stands. A key proponent for improving the waste management there was Environment Tobago. Kamau Akili, onetime President along with other leaders of this organization, advocated for a specialized toxic waste facility and a greater focus on recycling. That first suggestion is more valid now than ever, what with the National Gas Company's excess and volatile condensate that will be generated down at the Cove Estate. As it turns out environmentalist Akili is gainfully taken up with the activities in the Industrial Estate, so as it stands now, the man is in place to do something about the very thing he fought against. However let's not digress. The conditions at the landfill pose serious threats to residents of the area, and one may not be far amiss in predicting loss of life, or the lesser evils, grave threats to newborns, or to those yet unborn. Even the bayside fisherfolk complain of itching genitalia (while getting to the boats), a symptom consistent with cyanobacteria toxin. Additionally, to a man they quote drastically lowered catch rates in the bay. Utopian remedies aside, such as the yet-to-be-defined volumes that a local recycling industry would attend, a silver bullet, a preferred future, is in order for the terminally burdened Mt. St George landfill. The big solution for Tobago garbage could be incineration. Oddly enough, once more the ball lofts squarely in front of Mr. Akili's bat down at Cove. Never a fan of incinerators, Mr. Akili cites the possibilities for ground contamination due to the presence of toxic waste material in the burn, he also worried about dioxins. However in the decade since those cares, technology has marched on, others in the metropole have utilized the power of incineration to reduce the bulk of municipal waste matter. It seems it was a small matter of having the correct filters, and the right burn temperature. On deeper examination, most fairly mature incineration techniques passes stringent emission standards in the developed world with relative ease. The logic for incineration is bolstered by the brand new NGC processing plant in south Tobago. In their drive to 'monetize' (their words) the natural asset, the thermogenic gas, NGC may save some money by firing the proposed incinerator with its derived liquid and toxic condensate. This waste has great combustible properties, as evidenced by some admittedly illicit usage as fuel in vehicles belonging to persons 'who will not be named'. Burning Tobago's consumer wastes therefore is an ideal plan in the interim before the recycling industry here reaches equilibrium. NGC would save the cost of paying a waste disposal company such as Kaizen, to move condensate to far places, and they can bolster its quality for high combustibility by adding 'good' gas. To my way of thinking, better they use natural gas to benefit our population even further, other than just depending on its paltry earnings on the shrinking export market. As if all of that isn't a big enough load, Studley Park has another crappy problem. Sewage. Or what was once known as nightsoil. A fair amount of truck-borne material is poured into settling basins for treatment there, in an area lower than the landfill. Observations taken on very rainy days reveal that dirty water runs off into those ponds. Beyond the obvious overworking of a small microbiological system designed for a Tobago which no longer exists, the ponds spill over into the waterway during downpours. Microbes hate mass infusions of sediment, so diluted waste, partially or if at all treated, generally goes to the bay in short order - as fish food. To be fair, at $20 a pound, that's just added value for the fish you'd buy there. Is there a better future then? The 15 year old expected WASA wastewater and sewage treatment system is not in the immediate offing, so we'd want to look elsewhere. I'd say it’s a priority. Everyone knows the old adage, 'iffen backside nah wukkin, brain does get headache soon'. In closing I ought to confess; I hate incineration as a full

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“The logic for incineration is bolstered by the brand new NGC processing plant in south Tobago“


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solution as much as the next man, but in the context of what we have, what we stand to lose, I'd go with it. I'd place the incinerator at Cove, right next to NGC. I'd burn the majority of Tobago's waste, recycle the plastic and steel billets, and I'd use the steam it generates to drive the food processing plant they say is going to be there. So there's the preferred future for Studley Park. It's called a sustainable trade-off, and I'm sure Mr. Akili remembers the term.

A recipe for life: just add water Bertrand Bhikarry-Environment TOBAGO

“We need to realize that our real freedoms are limited, not by law, but by access to water“

Lately we hear a lot about the struggle to feed our population, to water them, to house them even. The fight for usable space is not going to get better though, not at the rate we humans reproduce. So what to do? We cannot keep building houses on land best suited for agriculture, nor can people who work the soil live far away from their garden. The other problem, maybe the biggest one, is to figure out an alternative source to obtain freshwater, since our rampant drive for development despoils the places best suited to rainfall harvesting. The simplest solution, one which leaves mother nature some room to perform in our favor seems to be via communal housing schemes or population clusters. This is logical, as under the present occupational paradigm, ownership or land title. Now there's a nasty thought; Imagine. Housing schemes, masses of people living together, but it's not communism being preached here, merely communal living. If it does seem an abhorrent option at first, observation puts a different slant on our preferences. Just look at our behavior when we are not under pressure. We pay non-refundable sums in advance, line up at embassies to beg for visas just so we can take that first step to get to live and work under cramped conditions elsewhere. It looks like we justify the move to cramped spaces, but only when we perceive it as a step toward upward mobility. We need to realize that our real freedoms are limited, not by law, but by access to water. It has always been so for mankind. In the near future, the planning process may have to take even more into account the impact which every property development has on the communal water resource. Hard issue that, but what's the point of building mass housing developments when the projected water supply is dwindling, and from already low reservoirs. The earlier suggestion for concentrated housing brings with it far less water usage - if only because there will be less private driveways to wash down. Who sweeps with a broom these days anyway? Aside from water security, there are other more compelling arguments for revisiting 'smart growth' as the movement for lessening the sprawl of urbanization is called. Heightened practice of agriculture for one thing; the oldest science known to man still needs land to make provision for our food. Then there's the rising crime problem, which rides on the back of the 'haves and the have-nots' issue. Through the smart growth drive and the optimization of already built spaces, poverty may become less of a problem. Living standards will be more equitable across the board for one thing. There may also be less of that sense of exclusion among local populations. The proof of it all is the 'bon homie' that New Yorkers, Londoners and other big city dwellers exude. Their positive attitudes cite volumes in justification for the mass of people who live in metropolis', where few own the real estate where they make their beds. Admittedly the thought of a temporary footprint is difficult to push


Environment TOBAGO newsletter

through among a civilization which uses title and land as measurements for success, but the main reason the smart growth concept may catch on is through help by the new bogey-man; Climate Change. With far less rainfall predicted, higher temperatures, sea level rise and the attendant problem of aquifer contamination, people may actually seek the comfort of a group in defense of the nearest water supply. This last 'driver' is a highly probable scenario, since in a future where water is in short supply, the ferocity of those who will want access to it is unimaginable. None of this needs come to pass. All we have to do is integrate water laws as the prime factor into our existing planning policies and the paths to sustainability of the resource will follow. What's the point of insulating our landmass with pavement and then seeking to solve the emergent problem by non-sustainable efforts like desalination, water curfews, or even conflict? To exist in the future that's coming we'll have to be very proactive about water use in order to survive. The slow adoption rate to prioritize, to legislate what's best for the natural environment, and include it into all aspects of our land use policy is going to be 'too little too late' for our small island state of Trinidad and Tobago. Simple suggestions wouldn’t do at the village level, nor would real change occur at the decision-making level, especially if its unpalatable to the electorate. Someone's going to have to have to spell it out. More than ever it seems that chore may fall to the NGO's like Environment Tobago, COPE and others. Their message may sound radical - that people ought to live like bats; in colonies. Like fish; in swarms. Like early man; in groups. See? It isn't difficult, it's already bred into us.

Orange Hill: The preferred future Bertrand Bhikarry- Environment Tobago Over the weekend Tobago was visited by the senior (i.e.; experienced) members of the Trinidad chapter of the Caribbean Forestry Conservation Association - the CFCA. Ostensibly, their purpose may have been an overwhelming urge to soak their [collectively experienced] bones in the salt of Charlotteville's, Man 'O' War Bay. However to be fair, they did try to justify the exercise with firstly, a mornings drive and a little saunter through the Orange Hill, followed by a field trip to Cove Eco Industrial Estate. They were shocked. The denudation of the only area in Tobago's south (Orange Hill) which has the ability to carry some part of the islands biodiversity is under attack by a swarm of excavators, bulldozers and backhoes. It's not news to those of us who live in Orange Hill of course. We know and we respect the right of the landowners to do as they will with their property. It's just that at times we wonder if they do have the right to beggar the lifestyles of the people who live down hill, downwind or even down the road. The CFCA's visit did have a serious side naturally. The purpose of the trip- to A burnt landscape observe deforestation of forests including

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mangrove forests and the resulting biodiversity loss, to advise on remediation, to offer their expertise in the education of the population of Tobago, including government officials with regards to the law and development practices that effect the environment. Orange Hill has escaped the attentions of the THA in that body's drive to 'beautify' our space for the tourism industry, and so we who live there count ourselves lucky, we still have some of the things nature intended. Life up there is pretty All that is left are burnt tree trunks quiet, except for the soft wind blowing through the threatened trees -TTEC has yet to clear the entire verge for the power lines you see. Denied the unwanted attentions of the tourism experts, the idyllic calm of this scenic knoll has been withstanding a slow and inexorable toll from the ordinary man (with his bull-dozer), the ubiquitous state entities (with their chain-saws) and the litterbugs who dump everything under the sun along those picturesque ridges. The CFCA in their wisdom sees that Orange Hill can have a preferred future. It ought to. The area and its trees by and large, is part of the water solution for the south. Aside from the known virtues of greenery, such as its ability to maintain health and sanity and our ecosystem, trees, well - they make water slow down. I don’t know about you, but I'd prefer my six month supply of dry season water to percolate quietly through the ground and not be served to me during the course of a few hours, part of a rushing dirty stream heading down to sea. But I ramble. The CFCA wants to enable a reforestation drive on private lands in Tobago in part. They'd also attend to the business of asking and helping the authorities to participate by putting back some woodlands on those parts of Tobago under THA control. The process sounds familiar, even tenuous, but this time there may be hope. The tourism economy will get traction now, since profligate government spending is more or less throttled and as ‘pristine’ as the product can still be sold on a global scale. Climate Change is also a very forceful argument, a goad we never A close up of the destruction had in the reforestation arguments. Orange Hill has a very key part to play in both solutions. If attended to immediately, our little hillside community can be part of the solution, not part of the problem. As an aside. The folks from Caribbean Forestry Conservation do enjoy their annual little dips in the pristine waters of the Tobago bays, and they would like it to continue. In that respect at least Orange Hill (okay, Tobago too) may gather a powerful friend. Remember, if the quality of life for all those live in the flats of the south is to remain as it is, or to get better, it's important for Orange Hill to stay green. Think of it as a preferred future.


Environment TOBAGO newsletter

Bon Accord Lagoon: The Preferred future Bertrand Bhikarry- Environment TOBAGO Look to the past to see into the future. A common enough phrase, it ought to be adopted by the managers of our famous, but brackish resource down at the southern end of Tobago. Actually, looking back to the time when the reef was pristine still makes sense, especially if there is to be justification for the proposed actions planned by the group of individuals responsible for the Marine Park. Individuals? Responsibility? Who might that be? The latest in the Buccoo Reef Management Committee's lifetime's worth of conversations revolve around the proposed ESA, an environmentally sensitive area designation for the reef and its environs. However the initiative comes from the Environmental Management Authority not from the reef stakeholders themselves. Makes one wonder if there is local appreciation for the reef. As citizens, we focus (via TV) on the coral, on the ephemeral beauty (well, it's dying isn't it?) of the shallow lagoon, and Bon Accord Lagoon we speak in casual tones about the area's potential to carry our tourism product. We may even accept that it can secure our food supply, since we now know that fish never originated in a sardine can. We could be content to leave matters in the hands of the government, but it's not a good idea. We'd all like to think that there is some guy called 'Government' who gets up in the morning thinking, 'Well, today I'm going to allocate some time to the reef and I'll spend the afternoon purifying the Lagoon'. Likewise, it's poor judgment to entrust the task of environmental care to ordinary employees of state, regardless of their Ministry's mandate. Aside from doing only what's politically right, all they seem to worry about is picking up, dropping off, fetching lunch, or attending any of the sundry tasks harried humanity attempts during working hours. Or we could fix the thing. Really we could! The Bon Accord Lagoon has borne the wastewater burden of the growing population from Canaan to Bethel - that's water from houses, pig and cow farms, and everything in between. Things down there are now at a point where even lagoon seagrass is relocating to the Nylon Pool. Incidentally, it's possible that the more mobile lifeforms from the stinking backwater may have already gone. Soon it will be left only for the mangrove to depart - taking its leave(s) as it were. Unfunny puns aside, as it concerns our reef and mangrove, we cannot wait for the EMA to get the legislation into play, that takes too long, and it’s the kind of time the areas' ecosystem just doesn't have. Actually it's been long confirmed, the lagoon is suffering from the cumulative effect of too much domestic wastewater and the loss of its circulatory system, largely because of the roads that were built on the peninsula. However the Bon Accord Lagoon can have a preferred future. It does not have to die from neglect, over-use, or over-pollution. There is talk in the pipeline of an initiative among the NGO community for

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plans to introduce instant remediatory measures in the Lagoon. Some preliminary information reveals an intention to bring in clean seawater from a subsea well. The plans also include innovative methods to increase air circulation along with the added water. These plans will not hinder the current drive by the Environmental Management Agency to create the ESA, nor will it restrict the current usage pattern of those who use the Lagoon during their recreational and legitimate activities. If all goes well with Buccoo Bay that project, it seems the folk at Environment Tobago may be literally altering the balance of things down at Bon Accord. If things go as planned, and Environment Tobago perseveres, the Lagoon may have the future it prefers. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[ Bertrand Bhikarry is a volunteer with Environment Tobago. Contact him for more on the Lagoon's preferred future - Tel: 660 7462]

Blueprint for integrated coastal management in southern Tobago Bertrand Bhikarry-Environment TOBAGO At some point in reviewing the Water and Sewerage Authority's plan to put down a sewer system in the south of Tobago it becomes obvious that an integrated system of managing waste is an imperative. What's the point of spending good money to control toxic emissions at the outflow pipe, when there are no controls at other sources for waste just as harmful to the environment? The concept of an umbrella style of management to control the quality of storm and waste water into the sewer must of necessity take many non-bacterial considerations into account, for example, siltation or even laundry water. The presence of either, or both, add considerably to the cost of running the sewer plant, and can contribute to shortening its life, impairing its function, and can impact on the ecological system far beyond the local geographical boundaries. It's not an easy task to structure the legal framework under which diverse sectors must comply to effect safe emissions at the outflow. It's something which the Buccoo Reef Management Committee is finding out to its chagrin after several years of trying to stave off damage to our famed reef. In its fight to reduce pollution from land-based sources in the Bon accord Lagoon, the BRMC has tried to redraw park boundaries, considered incentives for residents whose waste impact on the basin, and have even attempted, through intermediaries, to educate users of the reef about limitations of use. That's an example of integrated coastal management in its early stages. Whether it can happen for WASA and their sewerage projects remains to be seen, since large obstacles loom. Does the budget for the $26M US IADB loan to fix up sewer treatment plants in Trinidad and Tobago include some measure of enabling


Environment TOBAGO newsletter

integrated coastal management. More than likely it's not so, since ICM is a relatively new concept, emanating out of the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro (1992), and the machinations for making funds available for national sewer works began not long after that. Fostering the national enablers that can make ICM happen here is a top level chore. It all boils down to whether there's the political will to make such widespread changes in our legal system. Almost as surely those affected will want to use the power of the vote to ensure their traditional livelihood stays in place. Expect manufacturers to scream bloody murder when asked to filter waste, expect beachside villas and other homeowners to go berserk when asked to use specific products in bathrooms and gardens. Watch in amazement as the wider public strain against waste disposal restrictions such as e-waste and persistent organic pollutants. So that route may not work, since in today's world, political will equates to a failed politico. The absence of integrated coastal management makes a mockery of some EMA guidelines already in place. We may well ask what's the point of the WASA being forced to produce high quality emissions since the private sector are not so constrained, or not supervised enough? Adding to a risk of asking over-compliance from the Water and Sewerage authority, isn't there a chance of 'over-regulating? where it may cost more to prevent potential damage to a marine environment already past a pristine benchmark? Obviously educating everyone involved on the topic will forestall such negativity and bring understanding that the ICM process is recursive, that it will make incremental improvements to the coastal environment over time. To clarify, using the example of the proposed sewerage plant for Tobago, ICM has two fundamental objectives; to restore and maintain the ecological integrity of the coastal ecosystems, and to maintain important human values and uses associated with the target area. Seen closer, the process itself depends heavily on three key components; dynamic planning, selection and implementation, and research and monitoring. Dynamic planning requires that objectives should be looked at for the region in question. Goals must be set, risks must be identified, and management solutions needs be modeled and compared. The dynamic planning process should produce two types of results, the first, a set of management alternatives to be considered for selection and implementation. The other, an agenda for research and monitoring that is needed to bring about feedback on whether the selection is working. Dynamic planning (for that sewerage plant) can be pure theory, but the second stage, selection and implementation requires getting into the nitty- gritty. In this ICM scenario, WASA will have selected a site based on good fiscal reasoning, clever logistics, legal access, and other aspects which contribute to the projects eventual success. Thus if the first stage is the 'who', the second is the 'what and where'. The third important consideration, research and monitoring, serves to ensure the plant's success over time, and to push the plant into the future. This is the element which will help meet the original ICM goal to re-establish the natural environment. Over the last two decades the concept of Integrated Coastal Management has matured as coastal communities worldwide seek ways to battle the impact burgeoning populations and profligate lifestyles make on the oceans. It is time that we all realize that whether man lives on a hilltop, or on a meadow, a lot of his waste descends to the sea via liquid transportation. ICM will see us regulate those wastes, enable protection for our coasts and allow the benefit of a sustainable food supply.

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“It's not an easy task to structure the legal framework under which diverse sectors must comply to effect safe emissions at the outflow“


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Environment TOBAGO newsletter

GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL Jim Conrad 1991. On the Road to Tetlama. New York: Walker 196 pp. [Twenty-fourth in a series on "naturalist-in" books.] Christopher K. Starr Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies ckstarr@gmail.com

In 1989, at the age of 42, the author was dissatisfied with his society and his life, in need of a change. He got on a southbound bus in his native Kentucky and after two days he got off in a very different place, a village in San Luis PotosĂ­. Here he lived and wandered for several months in an unaccustomed land, leaving his old life behind, like Gauguin in Tahiti. Jim Conrad wanted to "descend and simply immerse myself inside that shimmering, oversimmered, too-spicy, and maybe ... slightly disreputable stew of central Mexico". The village of Colonia el Sacrificio was on an east-facing slope above the PanAmerican Highway. It was a rustic place of mostly very poor small farmers and petty traders living in "clamorous anarchy". Further inland from the highway the people spoke mostly NĂĄhuatl and little Spanish. In this context, there were many folk beliefs and parts of ancient religion, with an overlay of Christianity. Conrad was far from enchanted by the place, and almost every day he escaped by walking the road to the nearest town, Tetlama, eight kilometers away. The book comprises 55 chapters, none longer than eight pages, many of just two or three pages in vignette mode. This is quite a different naturalist-in book from those treated earlier. Although Conrad was and is a naturalist -- he includes species-lists of birds of various habitats -- his attention in this book is mainly to the people. There is much about human activities and daily rhythms. The treatment of plants and especially animals is oddly casual, with little mention of scientific names, almost in the manner of an ordinary visitor. As an example, in wayside weeds "I notice a sound a little like that of a flowering plum tree full of tiny bees, except that this sound is quieter, wetter, and somehow more coldly persistent." Army ants. They flush a scorpion from a crevice. It breaks for freedom, only to run across a dense column of ants, and that is the end of the scorpion. When he related this to the villagers later, they exclaimed "Ay, those are the ants that clean our house for us!" When the army ants raided into a house, the people simply vacated it for an hour or two until they were gone, taking all the cockroaches and other vermin with them. Sometimes Conrad gives us a surprise ending, as in "Porch Woman". Conrad was single and all by himself, very much interested in female companionship. One day he came upon a real beauty sitting on a porch and stopped to talk. There is eye contact, conversation and apparently major chemistry between them. And then, suddenly, he realizes what it is all about. The lovely lady is a prostitute, and that greasy little man standing watchfully across the street is her pimp. Scattered throughout the book are 27 wonderfully artful three-tone illustrations by Kelli Glancey.


Environment TOBAGO newsletter

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Volume 6 Issue 2

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Environment TOBAGO newsletter

READERS’ FORUM Dear ET Newsletter Readers, Office:

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Environment TOBAGO Newsletter - June 2011  

This is the June 2011 issue of the quarterly newsletter of the local NGO Environment TOBAGO