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E n viron men t TO BA GO n ewsl etter


nvironment 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


hat’s inside

ET News


Ecology Notes


Scientist Spotlight


Tobago Wildlife


Book Review


More Tobago Wildlife


What’s Happening @ ET


Notes to contributors


Environment TOBAGO

September/December 2016

President’s Report Patricia Turpin Welcome all to our 21st AGM, The once a year date that allows us to update our members and followers of our activities. It has been an interesting and challenging 14 year journey for me as ET's President. As this comes to a close, I want to share with you some of my thoughts. For the last 20 years, ET has been at the forefront of environmental conservation in Tobago and beyond. We have pursued every avenue of communication open to us for conveying our mission and vision, from school children to adults: from newspaper articles to radio programs; from physical activism to demonstrations in support of environmental causes and new legislation: and supporting by project proposal activity, changes needed in citizen behaviour. How do we measure success? Is it by changes in attitude? Is it by the level of respect shown? Is it by an elevation in status? Is it by available funding? Or is it by what we have accomplished? All of these and more determines our vision Outgoing Executive Board of Directors for the future of ET and the environ- Bertrand Bhikarry, Patricia Turpin, ment. We will be required to be prag- Shirley McKenna giving yearly reports matic and have achievable goals. Never before has the environment /our ecosystems been under more stress from human activity. Despite everything we have done and accomplished; dealing with every issue will require positions expressed with determination, and opinions based on transparency, research and scientific and historical data. ET must move forward in this spirit. The new BOD will need to do some serious strategic planning on our priorities in line with our vision for the future. The increased workload requires that everyone participates. Financially, ET has had a challenging year where funding for both administrative overheads and project implementation are concerned. Frugal consideration of funding available and innovative interventions have kept ET afloat. We managed to meet our obligations that were projected to be approximately $275,000. TT for the year. I will leave the details to our able treasurer. In the coming months, we will have available, our BHP Billiton education fund of 21,000.US, 96,000.TT for the Conservation International/Canari funding from the current ongoing climate adaptation project. Currently being negotiated is a $66,000. US

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Sept/ Dec 2016 Editor: Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Assistant Editor: Raymond Aaron Design & Layout: Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Technical Support: Jerome Ramsoondar Enid Nobbee Contributors: Bertrand Bhikarry Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Christopher K. Starr Patricia Turpin Photographs: Environment TOBAGO Karl Phillips Matt Kelly

Board of Directors 2016-2018 President:: Bertrand Bhikkary Vice-President: Patricia Turpin Secretary: Wendy Austin Treasurer: Andy Roberts Other Directors: Renee Gift Darren Henry Terrance Sandiford William Trim Andrea Tuitt Aljoscha Wothke

Environment TOBAGO newsletter

youth Marine education program with the Rockerfeller foundation. We are also partnering with Canari for an EU - environmental justice program- this is a very large projectexact funding not available. Greenhill Bee conservation project and finally, a THA project for sargassum control that carries with it funding close to 2 million TT. ET has been working in the local, national, regional and international arenas in a diverse body of work. Protected areas and forest management, National Biodiversity reports, UNCCD national action plans, the SDG’s-Sustainable development goals, climate adaptation projects, and GEF thematic area funding procurement as RFP for the Caribbean. There were many issues to deal with over the year, ranging from airport and marina development to desalination at Cove, to water shortages, logging, sargassum control, boat building at Kilgwyn, hatchling destruction at Pigeon Point, jetty at Little Tobago, lack of game wardens, shark decimation, hydrologic changes in the Bon Accord lagoon due to the inappropriate construction of the jetty and currently the proposed Sandals development at Golden Grove and Buccoo Estates. Concurrently, the Education program has been moving forward with the Annual Keep a Clean School program, lectures on environmental issues in curriculum for UTT and high school students. While primary students have been exposed to wetland and forest programs together with the THA department of the Environment and the Education Division. Newspaper articles and newsletters have served to inform the general public on issues of local and national importance. The Facebook page has been extremely successful with issues on all current and ongoing issues. We have 5 new members for 2016. Internally, ET’s secretariat has been manned by Anessa Mejias and Greta Akili overseeing the administrative work. Barry Lovelace, ET’s Education Coordinator and Sabriyah Muhammad as research officer. We are currently in the process of fund raising for the hiring of a Manager for the coming year. As I close this report, I would ask all members and the new BOD that will be elected today, to take their role seriously. I also want to thank the current BOD of the last 2 years for their concerted efforts in environmental conservation, it has been monumental. Events attended by ET Members from Sept 2015 to Sept 2016. Monthly meetings attended for committees, Sargassum, Tema, PA and MPA committee meetings, COPE, RFP Caribbean-GEF and others. Oct-International Mediation Board –Champions of peace Awards. Oct- Bioblitz Charlotteville Nov- EMA-ESA/ESS symposium Nov-CEDP Development symposium Nov-ACS/US Embassy-CSO dialogue Dec- EU CSO strengthening-capacity building Dec-PA/protected areas Management inception workshops Dec- BHP Billiton EIA consultation Jan- Under sea Gardens-Tourism Jan- Sargassum consultations Jan-Tema meetings Jan- NAP-national action plan for UNCCD consultation Feb- World wetlands Day celebrations. Mar- Canari/Conservation International- climate training workshop Mar-MEI technical training workshop Mar-visiting US university-Development

Environment TOBAGO newsletter

Mar- ICZM consultation Mar- ECW-Extended constituency workshop-RFP Caribbean April- EMA/IUCN National Report to the GEF CBD workshop Apr-Canari/CI financial workshop May- Canari/CI HR capacity building workshop June-RFP Caribbean-GEF meeting-Washington June-UNDP/CSO dialogue July- Strategic planning workshop Aug- Fisheries management workshop Sept- International Coastal cleanup Sept- EU/Ministry of Planning Climate inception workshop Sept-Community Development workshop-Heritage fund

New Board of Directors-left to right- Terrance Sandiford-Director, Aljoscha Wothke-Director, Andy Roberts-Treasurer, Bertrand Bhikarry-President, Patricia Turpin-V President, Wendy Austin-Secretary, Andrea Tuitt-Director, Darren Henry-Director. (Missing: William Trim—Director; Renee Gift—Director)

Civil society ready to tackle climate change in 2017 Five civil society organizations (CSOs) in Trinidad and Tobago are starting 2017 ready to tackle climate change through raising awareness, advocating for strong policies and action, and implementing practical adaptation projects guided by assessments of what are the key vulnerabilities and priorities for resilience building. The five CSOs - Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (CYENTT), Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC), Environment Tobago, Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP), and Turtle Village Trust (TVT) – have been participating in the “Climate ACTT: Action by Civil society in Trinidad and Tobago to build resilience to climate change” project which aimed to build the capacity of five CSOs in Trinidad and Tobago to deliver programmes/projects related to climate change adaptation and resilience. Over the last 16 months, the Caribbean Natural Resources Insti-

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Environment TOBAGO newsletter

tute (CANARI) implemented and managed this project in collaboration with Conservation International and with support from BHP Billiton Trinidad and Tobago. The Climate ACTT project wrapped up in December 2016, with a final evaluation workshop to assess results of the project, facilitate sharing of knowledge and experiences among the beneficiary CSOs and catalyse partnerships and new initiatives for climate change adaptation and resilience in Trinidad and Tobago. Overall the Climate ACTT project was found to be a resounding success at enhancing the capacity of the five CSOs to undertake climate adaptation work. One participant in the final evaluation workshop acknowledged “the sense of something starting as opposed to something ending”. “This was the seed sown for the growth of the big tree” added another participant. All five CSOs felt energised and ready to expand their work on climate change to help to address the impacts that are already being felt in communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Each CSO had participated in training and implemented a practical adaptation project that laid a foundation for exciting avenues of work moving forward. A few highlights were: Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (CYEN-TT) will build the capacity of youth so that they are aware of the impacts of climate change and have a stronger voice to call for urgent action. Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC) will educate coastal residents in north-east Tobago about the impacts of climate change on their communities and what needs to be done to adapt. Environment Tobago (ET) will conduct vulnerability assessments of coastal areas in south-east Tobago and collaborate with government, private sector and residents to identify what are the priority actions needed to build resilience to the impacts of climate change on these areas. Fondes Amandes Reforestation Project (FACRP) will partner with universities to expand its research on what tree species are resilient to climate change and therefore best suited for ongoing reforestation in the western Northern Range in areas destroyed by annual fires. Turtle Village Trust (TVT) will educate coastal communities in north-east Trinidad and Tobago about the impacts of climate change on sea turtles and coastal and marine ecosystems and what needs to be done to adapt. At the evaluation workshop, the CSOs also engaged with invited partners from government, international agencies and private sector donors for a highly interactive round of group presentations to discuss potential future areas of collaboration. Responses from the invited partners before leaving urged the participating CSOs to be proactive in discussing specific opportunities for collaboration on climate adaptation initiatives moving forward.

Representatives of the participating CSOs

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ECOLOGY NOTES What is Vicariance? Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies Vicariance usually occurs when “the geographic range of a taxon is split into discontinuous parts by the formation of a physical or biotic barrier.” The barrier in turn hampers the flow of genes between members of that taxon, as well as the dispersal of members of that taxon. Vicariance splits the population of a species or entire species into fragments and is a form of creating new species or speciation. Such geographic barriers can be the building of mountains. Over time as mountains get higher, some species will not be able to physically climb them or tolerate the different conditions such as less oxygen. But it can also happen on a much larger scale, for instance the splitting of the continents. The tectonic plates on which our continents and oceans sit are in constant movement, therefore eventually continents will come together or split apart. Some examples include the splitting of South America from Africa, which occurred approximately 100 million years ago, which is an example of continental drift. Vicariance does not only limit terrestrial species but aquatic ones as well. For example approximately three million years ago, the formation of the Isthmus of Panama caused species to split, having a species in the Atlantic and a related species in the Pacific Ocean. Another example of a vicariance event is the formation of a river, where as the river flows, it erodes increasing amounts of soil of the area it passes through. This results in the river getting wider and deeper over time. This would provide physical limitations for some species such as, a butterfly which may not be able to cross, but a bat or bird would have no difficulty, although all of these organisms can fly. So vicariance can happen in a variety of ways, but whether it happens on a small or large scale, it is one of the ways we gain biodiversity on our planet.

Scientist Spotlight Karl Phillips is a biologist stationed at the Cardiff Field station in Charlotteville (part of Charlotteville Estate) he is doing research on bacterial and other infections of guppies. He is a member of ET and Loves teaching the local kids-ET asked him to involve them whenever interest is shown.

“The tectonic plates on which our continents and oceans sit are in constant movement ” “ To many p eopl e t hes e tall pea ks make fo r a c hallen ging b ut s cenic hike. B u t t hey a re not jus t a no the r t all m oun tain to climb . ”

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Environment TOBAGO newsletter

Tobago's Wildlife

Left column (top to bottom): Green Heron, Blue backed Manakin, Rufus Vented Chacalaca (Cocrico), and Striped Runner Right column (top to bottom): Barred Antshrike, Blue crowned Mot Mot, White lined Tanager and Spectacled Caiman (Photos by Karl Phillips; Matt Kelly and others )

Environment TOBAGO newsletter

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BETWEEN ATLANTIC TIDES Philip Henry Gosse 1853. A Naturalist's Rambles on the Devonsire Coast. London: J. Van Voorst 451 pp. (Online at the Internet Archive.) Philip Henry Gosse 1865. A Year at the Shore. London: A. Strahan 327 pp. (Online at Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive.) [Forty-third in a series on "naturalist-in" books; see reviews_of_naturalist.htm ]

Christopher K. Starr Caura Village, Trinidad

We met Philip Henry Gosse in the previous review. He was a zoological allrounder (much less a botanist), who studied reef and littoral animals with much detail in Jamaica alongside his main attention to terrestrial vertebrates and arthropods. It is remarkable that one naturalist should write with such knowledge and insight about both land and sea habitats and animals. Devonshire is in the southwest corner of England just east of Cornwall, with shores on both the Bristol Channel to the north and English Channel to the south. It was quite a wild place in the 1850s, with both cliffs and sand beaches along its two coasts. Seascapes are in constant change with the tides and other motions, which Gosse never got tired of watching. The limestone shores are replete with tide pools, a happy and constantly renewing hunting ground for those interested in intertidal invertebrates. As Gosse put it, "The tiny pools that lie in the hollows, renewed twice every day by the influx of the sea, are perfect nurseries of plants and animals of the most curious forms, and of the most interesting structure." In these books he gives some attention to fishes and algae, but the main foci are such creatures as echinoderms, mollusks, coelenterates (especially medusae), and polychaetes. In true naturalist-in mode, the author is very much present in these books. The preface of A Naturalist's Rambles opens with "I have endeavoured, as far as possible, to make [these pages] a mirror of the thoughts and feelings that have occupied my mind during a nine months' residence on the charming shores of North and South Devon." And in chapter 8, "What a delight it is to scramble among the rough rocks that gird this stern iron-bound coast, and peer into one after another of the thousand tide-pools that lie in their cavities." In chapter after chapter, one can feel a shiver of expectation as Gosse starts out on a day's excursion. An outstanding feature of tide pools is the high diversity of species that can

"What a delight it is to scramble among the rough rocks that gird this stern iron-bound coast, and peer into one after another of the thousand tide-pools that lie in their cavities." “ To many p eopl e t hes e tall pea ks make fo r a c hallen ging b ut s cenic hike. B u t t hey a re not jus t a no the r t all m oun tain to climb . �

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Environment TOBAGO newsletter

often occupy a restricted space. Gosse illustrates this in a section on "A Populous Stone" by enumerating all the species -- including animals and other plants growing directly on plants -- that he found on the rough surfaces of a single intertidal rock.

“that unaccountable association of diverse and unrelated creatures ... the companionship of the Hermit-crab and the beautiful Cloak-anemone."

In Jamaica Gosse frequently took animals into captivity in order to study them up close and throughout the day. He later developed this practice to a high degree with respect to shore animals and was a pioneer in the design and use of aquaria at a time when almost no one else was making the attempt. Among other things, he reasoned that if he could keep algae, they would oxygenate the water for the animals. A Naturalist's Rambles includes an appendix on methods with marine aquaria. Aquaria did much to advance Gosse's study of how marine invertebrates feed, breathe, reproduce, develop and locomote (or not). He undertook quick experiments to determine the functions of particular organs. After all, he was dealing with animals very different from anything found on land. As noted in the previous review, Gosse's entire life in natural history was a protest against the contemporary emphasis on the study of dead museum specimens, to the neglect of the living animal. In treating Cypraea europaea, the only cowrie in those waters, for example, he noted that the empty shell was well known to all beach combers, while very few had seen the living animal. A larger illustration of this point from A Year at the Shore is his treatment of "that unaccountable association of diverse and unrelated creatures ... the companionship of the Hermit-crab and the beautiful Cloak-anemone." He noted that the seaanemone (Adamsia sp.) was never found apart from the crab (Pagurus bernhardus) and didn't believe the crab could even exist without the sea-anemone. As they grow, both partners a new shell from time to time, but how to unify their action? His aquarium trials were consistent with the hypothesis that the crab finds a new shell, moves into it, and then moves the sea-anemone onto the new shell. The examination of dead specimens, by itself, would have contributed nothing to this problem. The human element is apparent only in peripheral vision in these books. Devonshire's land and villages are appreciated, although just as a backdrop to the sea. Similarly, the chapter opening "And now for a paragraph of cooking" is not at all about the villagers' customs. Rather, it is about cooking and eating a certain sea-anemone, an experiment recommended by another biologist. Gosse was not a warm and sociable man (E. Gosse 1890, 1907). After he had become well known, he almost never accepted social invitations except to what were effectively scientific events. As in his other works, Gosse's prose is colourful (or over-the-top, depending on how you look at it). He occasionally quotes from lyric poetry when he gets really enthusiastic. This is harmless enough, I suppose. On the other hand, he ends A Year at the Shore with "my solemn and deliber-

Environment TOBAGO newsletter

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ate protest against the infidelity with which, to a very painful extent, modern physical science is associated." Unless I misunderstand, this is a statement of allegiance to creationism and a repudiation of the new theory of evolution by natural selection. If he had started the book like that, it might have done some real damage. A rather breath-taking feature of these books is the full-colour plates (28 in the first book, 36 in the second) drawn from living animals. Here, let me show you one. References Gosse, E. 1890. The Life of Philip Henry Gosse F.R.S. London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner 387 pp. Gosse, E. 1907. Father and Son: Biographical Reflections. New York: Charles

More of Tobago's Wildlife

“ To many p eopl e t hes e tall pea ks make fo r a c hallen ging b ut s cenic hike. B u t t hey a re not jus t a no the r t all m oun tain to climb . ”

Left: Mantis preying on a dragonfly Right column (top to bottom): Purple gallinule and Owl butterfly (Photos by Karl Phillips, Matt Kelly and others)

Environment TOBAGO newsletter

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Environment TOBAGO Environmental and Services Map of Tobago

ET is now on Facebook and Twitter We invite everyone on Facebook to join. Here we will post upcoming events, links, photos and videos on ET matters and other environmental issues. ET group link: group.php?gid=53362888661&ref=ts And keep up to date on what we are up to by following us on Twitter:

They are excellent and will be published every two years. Published in January 2008. Requests for these maps can be made to ET office.

Volunteers needed!

Persons who are interested in helping with cataloguing and filing of ET’s educational, research and operational material and archiving.

New Members

ET has a membership of 430 worldwide, ET welcomes the following members:

Kerton Jobe (student) Daniel Deosaran (Adult) Steve Rostant and family

Literature Available

The Tropical Rainforest of Tobago — The Main Ridge Graham Wellfare and Hema Singh Published by Environment TOBAGO pp 37 Price: TT120.

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Environment TOBAGO t-shirts and caps now available

Type: Polos Size: Small, Medium & Large Price: TT$150.00 Colours: Kelly green, royal blue, red, gold and ash grey Description: ET logo embroidered on left breast, sponsor’s logo printed on the back.

Type: Regular tees Size: Small, Medium & Large Price: TT$100.00 Colours: Kelly green, red, black, navy blue, ash, purple, royal blue and black forest Description: ET logo printed on front and sponsor logos on sleeves at the back centre

Type: Lady’s tees Size: Small & Medium Price: TT$100.00 Colours: Lime green, red and black Description: ET logo printed on front and sponsor logo at the back centre

Price: TT$120.00

Orders can be made through the office.

Products featuring artwork from Rainforest Education & Awareness Programme

Tote bags-TT$120

Burlap bags -TT$120

Postcards TT$15 per card or TT$100 for a pack of Drawstring bags-TT$130

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READERS’ FORUM Dear ET Newsletter Readers, Office:

11 Cuyler Street Scarborough, Tobago, W.I.

Mailing address:

P.O. Box 503, Scarborough, Tobago, W.I.

Phone: 1-868-660-7462 Fax: 1-868-660-7467 E-mail:

We want to hear from YOU! Comments may be edited for length and clarity. Send your comments to: or

GUIDELINES TO CONTRIBUTORS Articles on the natural history and environment are welcome especially those on Trinidad and Tobago. Articles should not exceed approximately 1200 words (2 pages) and the editors reserve the right to edit the length. Images should be submitted as separate files. Submit material to any of the following: 1) 2)

We are on the web http://

Deadline for submission of material for the 3rd Quarter 2016 issue of the Bulletin is September10th, 2016.

ET Newsletter Sept/Dec 2016  

Quarterly newsletter of the NGO, Environment TOBAGO

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