Monday, 13 June 2016

Nariva Swamp and Coastal Zone Pilot Protected Area Sub-Committee's Second Site Visit

On Friday 10th June 2016, the Nariva Swamp and Coastal Zone Pilot Protected Area (PPA) Sub-Committee, made a second site visit  to the PPA.  This site visit involved:

Wildlife Watch Team in Mazanilla

Orientation of field trip participants to the pilot protected area at Manzanilla Beach
At the first stop in Manzanilla, the team met with members of the Wildlife Watch team. The Sub-Committee was apprised on the dwindling numbers of leatherback turtles that come ashore to nest due heavy poaching and that due to recent conservation efforts as well as turtle patrols at Matura and other beaches in the North has resulted in their return. Nevertheless, it was noted that the lack of protection of the Mazanilla Beach means that poaching can continue.


Manatee Research Station and Incoming Tour Operators Association

The Manatee Research Station is managed by the Manatee Conservation Trust, a local environmental non-governmental organization (NGO). The organisation work to conserve the manatee population at Nariva, specifically the "Big Pond" area. Monitoring is being undertaken to derive present estimates the population.

Representative of the Manatee Conservation Trust shares information on the group
The Trust was also involved in the Blue and Gold Macaw reintroducton project spearheaded by  the NGO;the Centre for the Rescue of Endangered Species of Trinidad and Tobago (CRESTT) and the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries. As result of conservation efforts, increased numbers of macaw have been observed. However, poaching of macaws as a caged pet have also increased. The Trust emphasised the need for greater and continuous public education on the value of conservation and protected areas.

The Sub-Committee also headed south to Kernahan Village briefly stopping off at the 'Boatline', the main starting point forboat tours into Nariva Swamp organised by the Incoming Tour Operators Association. It was not clear whether local boatmen access clients directly or their capacity to provide them with ecological information on the Swamp.

Agricultural Development

It was observed en route Kernahan Village, roadside stalls selling watermelons, a staple crop in the area. A team of Agricultural Extension officers gave the Sub-Committee a description of the type of farming that occurs in Kernahan and specific challenges. These challenges include the issue of agricultural leases issued to areas south of the border of the proposed pilot protected area, agricultural squatting, unregulated use of pesticide cocktails entering waterways and  fire setting to name a few. These have implications for the integrity of the pilot protected area.

Land preparation for agriculture on the outskirts of Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary


Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary

The Sub-Committee had the opportunity to visit Bush Bush which was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1968. They observed several flora and fauna distinctive of to the Sanctuary such as Cocorite Palm, blossoms of a Cannonball Tree, a small snake and an iguana. Continued conservation of this area will provide opportunities to let the average person see these aspects of nature.
Cannonball tree blooms

A view across the Nariva Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA)

  At the conclusion of the site visit, the Sub-Committee reflected on the value of the supporting contributions of key stakeholders and the first hand sight of  the existing management issues in the pilot protected area. With this information in hand, the Sub-Committee looks forward to continued progress in developing a management plan appropriate for this unique site.



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