Mangrove in the Caroni Swamp
DESPITE adopting the principle “no net loss” in our 2001 National Wetland Policy, very little legal protection is afforded to our critically important mangrove forests.
This according to Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) who has written to
Minister of Planning and Development, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) and the Office of the Attorney General appealing to them to amend the Designated Activities Order (as amended), 2001 to include the “destruction, removal and disturbance of mangroves” as a designated activity.
It noted that this amendment will require any developer whose proposed activity directly or indirectly affects mangroves to apply for and obtain a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC).
FFOS stated, “In Trinidad and Tobago there is an estimated 8,665.1 Hectares (Ha) of vital mangrove forests which are important for the protection and improvement of our water quality, the provision of habitats for several important species of fish and wildlife and the mitigation of the effects of flooding.
“A study conducted by Dr Rahana Juman, the Deputy Director of Research at the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) determined that between 2007 and 2014 there was a 252.4 Ha decline if vital mangrove coverage Trinidad. This she determined was attributable to the ‘removal of mangrove to facilitate built development.’”
In 1998 FFOS resisted against the backfilling of mangrove forests at Invaders Bay to expand the city of Port-of-Spain. Today, the Urban Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago (UDECOTT) has indicated that approximately 24 Ha of land have presently been reclaimed and made recommendations for the further reclamation of land west of Invader’s Bay along the foreshore of the Audrey Jeffers Highway, the release stated.
It stated that in 1979, approximately 500 Ha of mangrove forest from Couva to north of Claxton Bay were reclaimed for the construction of the Point Lisas Industrial Park and Deep Water Port.
More recently developments have caused the destruction of mangroves in the Environmentally Sensitive Aripero Forest, the Godineau Swamp, Cuesa River in Chaguaramas, Guaracara River and Claxton Bay, FFOS claimed.