Ecosystem Destruction and Infrastructural Development in Trinidad & Tobago.

The controversial first phase of the construction of The Churchill Roosevelt Highway extension known as “Package 1” in Trinidad and Tobago was stopped by order of the court, after an injunction was filed by the conservationists Fishermen and Friends of The Sea, who challenged the Environmental Management Authority’s (EMA) decision to issue a certificate of environmental clearance (CEC) to the Works Ministry for its construction, designed to disect the Environmentally Sensitive Area known as the Aripo Savannas

The Aripo Savannas Scientific Reserve (ASSR), is the largest remaining natural savanna ecosystem in Trinidad and Tobago. It is located in east central Trinidad and encompasses approximately 1800 hectares. The ASSR is the habitat for numerous endemic, rare and threatened species. Of the 457 species identified so far, 38 are restricted to the Aripo Savannas, between 16 and 20 are considered rare or threatened, and two are endemic floral species.maxresdefault Despite its name, the Aripo Savannas Scientific Reserve comprises not only savanna ecosystems, but also palm marsh and marsh forest.1                                                                            

6827330_orig 

The significance of Aripo Savannas and its biodiversity has been recognized for many years as part of the larger Long Stretch Forest Reserve declared in 1934, as a proposed Scientific Reserve in 1980, and as a Prohibited Area in 1987.

Ex5XCtjXhNThe Aripo Savannas is also internationally renowned for its unusual flora in striking vegetation communities. It is one of the more intensively studied areas of natural ecosystems in Trinidad. Through the Environmentally Sensitive Areas Rules, 2001 (ESA Rules 2001), the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has been declaring terrestrial and marine areas of Trinidad and Tobago to be protected according to criteria set out in the ESA Rules. The ESA Rules were made under Sections 41, 42 and 43 of the Environmental Management Act, 2000 (EM Act). In June 2007 the Aripo Savannas was declared an Environmentally Sensitive Area. It was designated as a Strict Nature Reserve because it is one of the areas in Trinidad and Tobago with high scientific value, as it is the best remaining example of the types of ecosystems found within its boundaries. This designation makes the area eligible for special protection and management under the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.2            

             marsh

Sections 41, 42 and 43 of the Environmental Management Act, 2000 (EM Act) states2:

41. (1) The Authority may prescribe in accordance Designation of with section 26(e) the designation of a defined portion environmentally sensitive areas and of the environment within Trinidad and Tobago as an species

36 No. 3 Environmental Management 2000

“environmentally sensitive area”, or of any species of living plant or animal as an “environmentally sensitive species”, requiring special protection to achieve the objects of this Act.

(2) For the purpose of subsection (1), designation shall be made by Notice published in the Gazette.2

42. In pursuance of section 41(1), the Notice shall include—

(a) a comprehensive description of the area or species to be so designated;

(b) the reasons for such designation; and

(c)the specific limitations on use of or activities within such area or with regard to such species which are required to adequately protect the identified environmental concerns.2

43. Any designation of an “environmentally sensitive area” or “environmentally sensitive species”—

(a) may permit the wise use of such area or species and provide for the undertaking of appropriate mitigation measures, but shall not otherwise be deemed to authorize or permit any activity not previously authorized or permitted with respect to such area or species; and

(b) shall only require compliance with the specific limitations on use or activities specified in the designation.2

The primary concern this blog sets out to highlight is what the author interprets as a contravention, and deliberate disregard for section 43 (a) and (b) of the Environmental Management Act, 2000 (EM Act) of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as it relates to:

  1. The specific limitations on use of or activities within such area or with regard to such species which are required to adequately protect the identified environmental concerns.                      Savannah hawk
  2. The issuance of a certificate of environmental clearance for the construction of Package 1 of the Churchill Roosevelt Extension from Cumuto to Sangre Grande by the said Environmental Management Authority constitutionally mandated to protect the environment and its ecosystems, and biodiversity for the longterm benefit of the nation. Package 1 (1)
  3. The disregard for the value of an area deemed environmentally sensitive by the state agency under whose remit its protection falls.
  4. The likelihood of the irreversible impact infrastructural development projects may have on the biodiversity of this unique ecosystem.26731584_1975922226064442_1853126539026295080_n
  5. Deliberately ignoring the need to provide for the undertaking of appropriate measures to protect the area in question by permitting activity not previously authorized or permitted with respect to such an area.
  6. Imminent destruction of its unique flora and fauna.Savanna-Flower

 

Bibliography:

  1. The University of the West Indies St. Augustine, Trinidad.
  2. Environmental Management Authority (EMA) of Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Photo Credit.

  1. BLAKE MATHY.
  2. Google.
  3. Fishermen and Friends of The Sea (FFOS) Trinidad and Tobago.
  4. Environmental Management Authority (EMA) of Trinidad and Tobago.
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