Thursday, 27 April 2017

Cameras deployed in Main Ridge Forest Reserve to estimate abundance of mammal species!

For the first time in history 20 cameras were deployed in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago to capture imagery to inform an estimation of local abundance of mammals and model activity patterns of species.  The deployment took place from the 6-10 April 2017.  Read more about this training event at this link.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

GRULAC Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions 2017 Conference of Parties

The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions have as a common objective, the protection of human and environmental health from hazardous wastes and chemicals. Countries that have signed on to these Conventions, otherwise known as Parties, meet biennially at Meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COPs) to monitor and advance the implementation of the respective Conventions. In light of the challenges faced by many Parties in preparation for these back-to back Meetings, the Secretariat of the BRS organized regional meetings to facilitate the regional preparatory process.

In this regard, the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions 2017 Conference of the Parties was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil from 28-30 March, 2017. The interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention took advantage of the opportunity and hosted a Working Session to Address Regional Specific Issues related to Ratification and Early Implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury on the 27 and 31 March, 2017.

Trinidad and Tobago was represented at these two Meetings by Ms. Keima Gardiner, Waste Management Specialist, Environmental Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Planning and Development and Mr. Hasmath Ali, Registrar, Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals, Ministry of Health.

The key objective of the Regional Preparatory Meeting was to provide Parties of the three Conventions in the region, with a prime opportunity for consultation with each other prior to the 2017 Meetings of the BRS COPs, identify regional priorities and challenges, review meeting documents and discuss substantive matters.  The three day session of the Regional Preparatory Meeting commenced with a formal Opening and Introductory Remarks, after which discussions on Joint BRS issues commenced. On the second day, deliberations ensued on the Stockholm and Basel Conventions. The last day was devoted to Rotterdam Convention issues, along with a presentation by the Interim Secretariat of the Minamata Convention after the lunch break, before the formal closure of the Meeting.

Trinidad and Tobago’s participation provided the country with the opportunity to contribute to the proposals and actively influence the key recommendations that will be presented by GRULAC at the 2017 Meetings of the BRS COPs. In particular, those that relate to regional initiatives, strategic issues, financial and technical support, fostering partnerships for ensuring that hazardous wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner and discussing matters as it relates to guidance on the operations of the Basel Convention Regional Centre for the Caribbean.

National Inception Workshop and Mercury Inventory Toolkit Training for the Project Minamata Initial Assessment in the Caribbean (Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago)

Human activity has led to the re-mobilization of mercury within the environment. Mercury is a chemical of global concern since once it has entered the environment it persists, continuously cycling between land, air and water. The chemical also bioaccumulates up the food chain where it could eventually be ingested by humans.  As a mechanism to treat with the adverse effects of this hazardous chemical on humans and the environment, the Minamata Convention on Mercury was established.

Trinidad and Tobago has not signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury, however, steps are being taken to assess the local mercury status. To this end, the country is participating in the project ‘Development of Minamata Initial Assessments in the Caribbean’. The Project seeks to allow participating countries to ratify and implement the Convention through the use of scientific knowledge and technical tools. This primarily refers to UNEP’s Toolkit for the identification and quantification of mercury releases, through the population of an inventory of mercury sources in the country.

 Dr. David Persaud, Environmental Manager
delivering the feature address. Seated to his
 right are Dr. Ahmad Khan, Director,
BCRC-Caribbean and Dr. David Buck of the
BRI Institute
Workshop Participants at the National Inception
 Workshop engage in an interactive session
To officially initiate the project a National Inception Workshop was hosted by the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer in the Caribbean Region (BCRC-Caribbean) at Cara Suites Hotel and Conference Centre on March 21st, 2017. The key objectives of the Workshop were to introduce stakeholders to the Minamata Initial Assessment Project; explain the data requirements of stakeholders; briefly explain the UNEP’s Toolkit for identification and quantification of mercury releases Inventory level 2; and facilitate meetings and site visits with the consultants and relevant stakeholders.

The participants at the Workshop comprised the key stakeholders required for the inventory component and ranged from public to private sector entities including: Ministries, academia, waste management, energy, manufacturing and NGOs.

Following the delivery of opening remarks by the Director of the BCRC-Caribbean, Dr. Ahmad Khan and Dr. David Persaud, Environmental Manager of the EPPD, Mr. Kishan Patloo, the National Project Coordinator for the Inventory Component gave an overview of the project and explained the role of stakeholders. This was followed by Dr. Winston McCalla, the Legal Consultant, who discussed his role of conducting a legislative review for the project. Dr. Buck, the Lead Technical Consultant for the Inventory Component coordinated the remainder of the proceedings, briefing the audience on the Toolkit and the inventory, highlighting numerous potential sources of mercury in the country, as well as sources of data for the Minamata Initial Assessment Report. During a highly interactive session prior to the closure of the Workshop participants were invited to confirm these sources and provide any additional data. They were also reminded of the importance of their cooperation to ensure the successful completion of the Project.