Environment TO BAGO new slett er

  E       n vi r on m e n t TO-
          BAGO (ET) is a non-
  government, non-profi...
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                        ET’s im...
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tend eternal gratitude...
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    Preliminary Rep...
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• Use GIS mapping ...
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ness that's needed....
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introduction of taxe...
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                      on ET a...
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          only. Not even bike...
ET News December 2010
ET News December 2010
ET News December 2010
ET News December 2010
ET News December 2010
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ET News December 2010

  1. 1. Environment TO BAGO new slett er E n vi r on m e n t TO- BAGO (ET) is a non- government, non-profit, vol- unteer organisation , not Volume 5 Issue 3 September 2010 subsidized by any one group, Environment TOBAGO’s 15th AGM corporation or government body. Founded in 1995, ET is a proactive advocacy group that Environment TOBAGO’s 15th AGM took place on the 28th July at the Bo- campaigns against negative tanic Gardens Conference Room in Scarborough, and was attended by 30 members. environmental activities throughout Tobago. We The meeting commenced with the chairman’s welcome and opening speech and achieve this through a variety prayer by Mr. Kamau Akili. of community and environ- Madam President, Mrs. Patricia Turpin, welcomed all those present and proceeded mental outreach programmes. with her annual report. She first addressed the issue of minimal investment in the Environment TOBAGO is conservation of the natural capital; she then proceeded to inform that with the newly funded mainly through grants elected government, more optimistic times may follow. The effect of the economic and membership fees. These funds go back into implement- downturn upon Environment Tobago was also addressed – Mrs. Turpin highlighted ing our projects. We are the impact that this had on the organisation’s operating capital and staffing budget. grateful to all our sponsors over the years and thank The report then proceeded to reveal an unexpected turn in the organisation’s them for their continued bleak economy – an alliance request from a large corporate sponsor. Mrs. Turpin firstly thanked the unrelenting efforts of the girls in the office for organising the fund- W hat’s inside ing requests and then explained that with such an exciting development, Environment Tobago should be able to stand on its own for a long time. ET’s 15th AGM 1 She then went on to extend gratitude to Ms Bridgette Laptiste for her single- Book & DVD donation by US 2 handed management of ET’s administration; and then to Mr Bertrand Bhikarry for his and Australian Embassies management and upkeep of the website, to Mr Gervais Alkins for running the ET Sun- Charlotteville’s Community 3 day Hikes and to Ms Hema Singh for her Awareness Day efforts in promoting awareness through the Cyanobacteria in SW Tobago 4 Environmental Education Programme. At this point in her report Mrs. Turpin also ex- Biodiversity Lecture - J 6 David Hardy tended gratitude to ET’s new partner (the Ecology Notes Environmental Lawyers) Renee Gift- 7 Ramlogan & Co for assisting to push the Telling it as it is 7 EMA to conform to the EIA process as re- The current ET Board of Directors, left to The ubiquitous plastic bag 9 quired for different development projects on right, Shirley McKenna (Treasurer), Patricia the island; to British volunteer Ms Zoe C Turpin (President), Wendy Austin (Secretary) Rare corals discovery 10 Mason for her indefinite assistance in the of- and Bertrand Bhikkary (Vice President) Tobago Megawatershed 11 fice and on the educational projects; and then structure explained to the Australian Embassy for their very generous donation of eighty seven new Interview with David Rooks 12 books for the ET Library. - Pt 2 The report proceeded to list the accomplishments of ET’s Education pro- Traffic on Courland Greens 16 gram, to brief proposed projects for future implementation and to disclose the re- Book Review 18 cently formed partnerships with the media, Coral Cay Conservation NGO, DNRE, 20 Garifuna Ltd, UNESCO, Piranha International and UWI. What’s Happening @ ET Treasurer, Mrs. Shirley McKenna, explained that in 2009 well over 93% of Notes to contributors 22
  2. 2. Page 2 Environment TOBAGO newsletter ET’s immediate funding was derived from special projects: from UNDP for the Wet- lands project and Belle garden Wetland Project; from BPTT for the Rainforest Educa- tion Programme; From Petrotrin, NLCB and BHP for the Keep a Clean School Compe- tition; From CDF for the Summer Eco Camp; and from UTC for a beach cleanup. She September 2010 also extended thanks to the J.D Fernandes Group for the recurrent funding of $123,000. . She proceeded to stress that heightened emphasis must be placed on areas that will generate income for recurrent purposes; for example forming strategic alli- Editor: Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal ance partnerships, focussing on sponsorship, advertisement and the employment of a Assistant Editor: CEO. She concluded her report by emphasising the need for fundraising in order to Christopher K. Starr keep the organisation alive. Design & Layout: The meeting concluded by returning Madam President, Ms. Patricia Turpin, ex- Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal tending her congratulations to the new Board of Directors; she thanked Ms Janet Parks Technical Support: Jerome Ramsoondar for her role as Returning Officer and to Ms Bridgette Laptiste for assisting. She ex- Enid Nobbee tended her hopes for the year ahead and thanked all for their support. Contributors: Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Christopher K. Starr Bertrand Bhikkary Zoë Charlotte Mason Stuart Sampson The US and Australian Embassies support Environmental Education Environment Generous donations of books and DVDs were provided to Environment To- TOBAGO Photographs: bago for the Education Centre Update Jeff Canfield Duncan Young Earlier this year we, Environment Tobago (ET), embarked on a new project to Stuart Sampson update our existing library resources. The aim of this project was simply to acquire Zoë Charlotte Mason cutting edge books to help us expand our resource base and better serve our commu- Environment TOBAGO nity. With the generous support of the US and Australian Embassies this project pro- posal was made a reality – a reality that serves to better Tobago’s Environmental Edu- cation for years to follow. Our existing library has been up and running for public use since the year 2000, offering a wide range of reading material covering biological, oceanographic and geo- Board of Directors graphic sciences as well as published re- 2010-2012 search papers; though due to lacking finan- cial resources we were unable to expand President:: the centre to satisfy the growing need of Patricia Turpin the public. Last year, ET was able to pur- Vice-President: Bertrand Bhikkary chase approximately twenty books on the Secretary: Logos II ship, which visited the island. This Wendy Austin was the first time in over three years, in Treasurer: which our organization was able to add Shirley Mc Kenna books to our library. Committee members: Kamau Akili With an array of new information William Trim becoming available on environmental issues, Fitzherbert Phillips concerns, solutions, technology etc we felt From left to right, Hema Singh (former Education Geoffrey Lewis that this update was not only critically Officer, Wendy Austin (Secretary), Naette Lee Rupert McKenna Claudette Allard needed but also long overdue. Teachers (US Embassy Librarian), Patricia Turpin (ET Presi- David Antoine were continuously asking for more informa- dent) Gervais Alkins tion on environmental issues, especially as Darren Henry Environmental Studies and Wetlands are now a part of the secondary and primary Zoë Charlotte Mason schools’ curriculum. This gap we needed to fill. The US and Australian Embassies answered our prayers and to them we ex-
  3. 3. Volume 5 Issue 3 Page 3 tend eternal gratitude. The Australian Embassy generously provided us with a grand eighty-seven book collection, covering a variety of genres: environmental, marine, bio- logical, environmental management and sustainability to name a few. This delivery has been a huge asset to our library collection and we are confident that scholars, tour guides, students and the general public will seek to benefit from this new resource. In addition to this wonderful donation, we received an unexpected call from the US Em- bassy last week offering ET a selection of Marine books and DVDs. Combined with The Australian Embassy’s donation; we are now closer to filling the gap that existed in our library. We thank both Embassies very much and now welcome all to visit our new li- brary collection! As previous only ET members may loan the books, so please come on up to 11 Cuyler Street, Scarborough and join us in our pursuit of promoting Environ- mental Education for a more sustainable future. From the people to the people—Environment Tobago helped TRHA set president with Charlotteville’s Community Awareness day Environment Tobago (ET) was one of the several groups that participated in Tobago Regional Health Authority’s (TRHA) Community Awareness event in Char- lotteville on Thursday 27th August. Other groups participating were: The Breast Can- cer Screening Centre; The THA Social Services Department providing information on mental health, substance misuse& abuse and also shelter management; The Commu- nity Emergency Response Team (CERT); and The Red Cross who were providing in- formation on sexual health and wellbeing. The day proved to be a great success, with a large number of visitors from the village and from further afield getting involved; asking questions, collecting information packs and sup- porting the respective organisations. ET’s re- ception was wonderfully encouraging; with many taking interest in the organisation, our mission and merchandise. As 2010 is the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity (IYOB) ET took this opportunity to provide visitors with information on Tobago’s biodiver- sity: its importance, its decline, how negative Visitor getting information at one of the booths at Charlotteville’s Community behaviours concerning the environment can Awareness day. directly impact on our health, and ways in which we can all help to restore and preserve the island’s natural wonders. By far the most important message to arise from this event was the impera- tive need for more community collaboration drives to occur across the island. At ET we deem understanding the direct effect of environmental degradation and disregard on human health with utmost importance, particularly when you consider the existing Dengue outbreaks, excessive flooding, and a seeming surge in water pollution island- wide. The need is now greater than ever for information to be made easily accessible to the public. In a forum such as the Charlotteville Community Awareness day this objective was made achievable and ET would be delighted to make such occasions a frequent feature across the island communities.
  4. 4. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 4 Preliminary Report on the Occurrence of Cyanobacteria in SouthWest Tobago Environment TOBAGO The Problem During the months of July-August 2010, dive operators on the southwest coast of Tobago reported the presence of a cyanobacteria - this manifested as a red filament (it looks like a spiders web) covering an area from Flying Reef in the south as far north as Castara. The worst hit areas are Mt. Irvine Bay and Buccoo Bay. In Buccoo Bay, it is severe. The Plant Considering the bacteria's ability to thrive in the local environment, the pres- ence of a consistent single (or multiple source) of the factors which contribute to its existence is suggested. Since it only grows in nutrient rich waters, the presence of sew- age (e-coli) and other household or domestic waste may be evident on sampling. Cyanobacteria can be found in almost every conceivable environment, from oceans to fresh water to bare rock to soil. They can occur as planktonic cells or form phototrophic biofilms in fresh water and marine environments, they occur in damp soil, or even temporarily moistened rocks in deserts. A few are endosymbionts in lichens, plants, various protists, or sponges and provide energy for the host. Some live in the fur of certain animals, providing a form of camouflage. Aquatic cyanobacteria are probably best known for the extensive and highly visible blooms that can form in both freshwater and the marine environment and can have the appearance of scum. The association of toxicity with such blooms has fre- quently led to the closure of recreational waters when blooms are observed. Certain cyanobacteria produce cyanotoxins including anatoxin-a, anatoxin-as, aplysiatoxin, cylindrospermopsin, domoic acid, microcystin LR, nodularin R (from Nodularia), or saxitoxin. Sometimes a mass-reproduction of cyanobacteria results in algal blooms such as the red tide event. These toxins can be neurotoxins, hepatotoxins, cytotoxins, and endotoxins, and can be toxic and dangerous to humans and animals. Several cases of human poisoning have been documented on the global level. Level of Impact Interviews with dive operators, guesthouse owners, small hotel operators, as well as several repeat visitors who are familiar with southwest Tobago indicate their concern for personal safety and of the health of their families, especially the young and the elderly. There have been complaints of boils, swellings and skin rashes, treatment of which have been confirmed by two general practitioners. If the bacteria persists, the marine life in the area will be impacted by eutrophi- cation. This is an increase in the concentration of nutrient content to an extent that increases the primary productivity of the water body. In other terms, it is the "bloom" or great increase of phytoplankton in a water body. Negative environmental effects include particularly anoxia, or loss of oxygen in the water with severe reductions in fish and other animal populations. Other species
  5. 5. Page 5 Environment TOBAGO newsletter (such as jellyfish- an increase in and the presence of Portuguese Man-o-War jelly fish seen at Grange Bay due to a change of winds to North Easterly over a 2 day period in the 2nd week August- Visitors a locals were seriously impacted) may experience an in- crease in population that negatively affects other species in the local ecosystem. This cyanobacteria is toxic to fish and subse- quently Humans. This will impact the fishing industry and the tourism and restaurant industries and is a matter of concern- the Bon Accord Lagoon and Cyanobacteria mangroves being large nurseries for pelagic fish. Probable causes (anecdotal) The reports of skin infections, rashes and ear infections at Mt Irvine Bay has been documented and can be verified in the present term by several people who have had treatment subsequent to bathing there. The lack of similar numbers in the Buccoo Bay/Bon Accord area may be at- tributed to bathers less prone to infections since fishermen and acclimatized locals tend to have less broken skins from mosquito bites and sandflies. Also less people sea-bathe on a regular basis in the waters of Buccoo/Bon Accord Lagoon. No ques- tions about infections were asked of bathers in the Pigeon Point area. That there was a sustained algal bloom this year (2010 may prove to be the hottest year on record. Water temperatures on the COVE reef were recorded in the second week of August at 31C), may have contributed to the problem on such a scale. It seems cyanobacteria has found a suitable environment for sustained life. “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” The area was already under stress - Tobago SW suffers from nutrient enrichment due to growing populations wastewater, malfunctioning sewerage plants (It was reported in the first week of August, that the Mt. Pleasant Credit Un- ion sewage plant- which also takes effluent from Coco Reef Hotel and Store Bay Beach facilities was malfunctioning- outflow pipes had been opened into drains at the corner of Anthony and Alfred Crescents, raw sewage had been flowing into these drains for 2 months- this has subsequently been repaired), open sewage lines cesspit/ blackwater runoff and environmental hazards such as vehicle / highway / agricultural pollutants. Probable solutions In the short term; • Close beaches for bathing • Close on rainy days • Sample three times daily, test same (WASA and Division of Health to do this moni- toring and make results available to the public) • Open beaches for limited periods – when water testing shows that this can be done. • Offer free medical support to those affected In the long term:
  6. 6. Volume 5 Issue 3 Page 6 • Use GIS mapping being done by Coral Cay Conservation/ Environment Tobago to fa- cilitate visual signs of the presence of the bacteria in Tobago waters and on the reefs. This will point to affected areas and will aid in identifying causes). • Institute the National Action Plan • Expedite an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan. Of Note and Concern The proposed WASA sewage system will place an outfall pipe in 30M of water on the SW near Flying Reef. It will disperse nutrient which at certain times of the year can detrimentally enrich the shallow waters off the Kilgywn Coast/Canoe Bay/Lambeau. It is of note and concern that cyanobacteria and other problems that affect the natural environment (which includes people) will proliferate on the Tobago SE coast also. The Courland Bay already suffers from severe enrichment due to the hotel laundry and the Plymouth Village runoff. The drainage from the baths and the pools at YMCA will add to the problem to the point the entire south coast may prove unsafe to the sea-bather. All such facilities need monitoring (See EMA Water Pollution Rules Biodiversity, Extinction, and the Natural Heritage of the Island of Tobago—Mr. J. David Hardy presents forty years of work on the threat- ened biological heritage of Tobago On July 15th July Mr. J. David Hardy gave a one-hour presentation on the biodi- versity of Tobago. This lecture was held at Mt. Irvine Bay Hotel Environment Tobago and The Tobago House of Assembly’s Department of Education. A resident of the United States, Mr. Hardy (known locally as ‘Snake-Man’) has been a regular visitor to Tobago since the early 1960’s. His life’s work has been to inventory the biological riches of Tobago. This work has culminated in an anno- tated list of the biota of Tobago, as well as an in- valuable library and biography of 7500 references on the natural history of Tobago. Mr. Hardy is mak- ing a special trip to the island to share his knowl- Orville London -Chief Secr. THA offers edge of, and words of thanks for Hardy's presentation passion for Tobago and its rich natural heritage. “Tobago has a high level of endemism” says Mr. Hardy. Endemic species are animals and plants that are found in only one area or island. “There are rare endemic species, like the white-tailed sabre winged hummingbird, and common ones, such as the cocrico. These endemic species make Tobago a special place for biodiversity”. Dave Hardy about Tobago endemism and biotic uniqueness
  7. 7. Page 7 Environment TOBAGO newsletter ECOLOGY NOTES What are Supernormal Stimuli? Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies Supernormal stimulus or superstimulus is an exaggerated form of stimulus which gets a stronger response than if a stimulus of a normal type was used. In order to get such a response organisms have developed certain mechanisms which include larger than normal appendages and colourful markings. However, this concept is best explained using examples. The fiddler crab is one such organism that utilises supernormal stimulus where the males have one normal claw and while the other can be 2 to 3 times larger. This large claw is used as a shield when battling other males to be selected by females for mating. Also, besides acting as an effective shield, females also rate the health of the male according to the size of the claw. So the larger the claw the healthier the male because he would have to be capa- ble of getting enough food to support a large body and carry the weight of this claw. Also he would have to have a good immune system and a good fighter to ward off other males and predators to survive so long to get a claw that size. But, there is a disadvantage to having such a large claw. For one thing it weighs a lot and to a small animal like a crab it slows it down when it is retreating from preda- tors. It also makes it easier for predators to spot it. Supernormal stimuli are not only employed in order to attract mates, but also as a form of parasitism by some bird species. Here the parasite species lays its egg among that of the host species. The parasite egg is usually much larger than the host’s egg. Again here size is taken as an indication of the health of the chick inside. When it hatches, the host parent birds feed it more as it is larger therefore it will stand a better “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” chance than the other offspring of surviving, reproducing and carrying on what they think is “their” genetic lineage. Therefore we can see that this evolutionary tactic like others has both advan- tages and disadvantages. ARTICLES Telling it as it is. Derive results by giving results Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO It's arguable that since mankind started living in groups, there has always been a class of scientists, as there were public speakers, or communicators. It is increasingly interesting to consider which group made the bigger impact on the paths civilization chose over the last thousand years. Smart money says the talkers make the difference. every time. It's not a trivial consideration, especially if the eventual goal is to change the norms of a culture. As is the task the environmental lobby worldwide faces daily. It's obvious that the naturalists have not made the big a dent in the collective conscious-
  8. 8. Volume 5 Issue 3 Page 8 ness that's needed. Evidence of profligate lifestyles in most countries point to that sad fact. Our own country, Trinidad and Tobago offers no more comfort, even if the national literacy rate averages over eighty percent. People simply aren't getting the message that their failure to preserve the ecological balance of our natural environ- ment will be detrimental in the extreme to one of the most valued forms of life - our own flesh and blood, human families. It's time for the talkers to come out and do their thing. The scientists have al- ready done theirs - who in the academic community isn't aware of the vast amount of studies done in our coastal waters, in our reefs, throughout our forests, and among the agricultural sectors? Sustainable development? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? All old hat, all stale news among that enclave. Yet it would be remarkable indeed if the messages were to take hold in the wider population. Yet there could be hope. As the urgency of the situation grows (among the aware), messaging solutions are taking shape. The ubiq- uitous survey is one of these tools. However, amazingly, among the environmental research community, the ran- dom survey is not always immediately recognized as an actual educational or opinion- shaping tool. Those piles of questions, as useful as they can be to prove and confirm some project objective, are also key to creating public awareness and appreciation about the resource in question. It can be pivotal at showing relevance to the local situation. It also substantiates the intuitive cries from the heart emanating from the old tree-hugger groups, as some questions are posed for the emotional take. Politicians and their spin doctors know how to use surveys to their advantage; as we've seen from the media blitzes attendant to election campaigns in the last few decades. The ecologist, typically coming out of the science community, may not be as adept in using a survey’s results beyond its singular purpose, but only maybe because he sees no importance to report to anyone other than his funders. So if by observa- tion, politicians accept their prime target as Joe Public, and always report, if at times selectively, to them; then it's time for the scientists to zero in to that same public via direct communication, even if it's 'only' survey results, and in a timely manner. Can it really be that simple? For instance, is it only a matter of getting the com- munity interested in results of the thirty odd research projects which passed through the Buccoo Reef in as many years, to effect their 'buy-in'? Will the reef-boat operators, the fishermen, and the Tobago housewives treat Buccoo as a delicate and living organ- ism such as the scientists have come to know it? Will the acquisition of similar knowl- edge impact positively elsewhere in our country if the Learned Ones deign to share what they are gifted when they survey the communities during their work? It could be so, as mentioned earlier. Time (and comparison of active member- ship and participation) between faith to science-based charities, has shown the great impact a gifted communicator may achieve. Sharing their knowledge taken from the common man has potential for scientists to achieve project goals and create working partnerships.
  9. 9. Page 9 Environment TOBAGO newsletter The Ubiquitous Plastic Bag Zoë Charlotte Mason Environment Tobago Perhaps one of the longest lasting fashion crazes to surface during the last century is the plastic bag; appearing in all shapes and sizes, colours and designs, the plastic bag is by far the most owned and sought after product to hit the market. Or at least it was. In 2001 the United States Environmental Protection Agency estimated that between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags were consumed across the world annu- ally. (John Roach, 2003). Of this grand total, over 100 billion beautiful bags were thrown away by American citizens and approximately 0.6% of all bags produced were recycled. (World Watch Institute, 2008). Perhaps the most eloquent of descriptions to illustrate the plastic bags’ presence came from a 2003 National Geographic article: They sit balled up and stuffed into the one that hangs from the pantry door. They line bathroom trash bins. They carry clothes to the gym. They clutter landfills. They flap from “Plastic bags are trees. They float in the breeze. They clog roadside drains. They drift on the high seas. They the product of fill sea turtle bellies. (John Roach, 2003). intense chemical/ heat manipula- So yes, the plastic bags were and are (in many countries) everywhere, but tion and treat- what exactly is a plastic bag? ment – and be- Plastic bags are the product of intense chemical/heat manipulation and treat- lieve it or not, ment – and believe it or not, start their existence as basic fossil fuels; crude oil, natu- start their exis- ral gas or petrochemicals. So when we become vexed at the state of the large corpo- tence as basic rations’ reliance upon and their exploitation of oil and gas, we are bypassing the no- fossil fuels; crude tion that much of what we use on a day-to-day basis derives from this source too. oil, natural gas or In short, the production of plastic bags produces a multifaceted problem: our petrochemicals. “ “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” gross demand and consumption equates to extensive exhausting of already depleting resources; the production process also emits hazardous pollutants into the environ- ment. Polyethylene’s standard form does not biodegrade, so even IF the bags reach landfill they don’t break down without further chemical influence; and finally due to their light weight, they are susceptible to uncontrollable travelling – which is most visible in our trees, drainage systems and oceans. So what? For one, the Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) – the magnifi- cent prehistoric creature that frequent our beaches here in Tobago to lay their eggs annually, are dying from congesting our plastic bags. These creatures can consume twice their body weight (up to 1800kg) in Jellyfish every day but plastic bags floating in the ocean are often mistaken for jellies. The Leatherbacks have an amazing capability to “keep warm in cold water, dive over 1000 meters below sea level, travel thousands of miles and gulp down a Portuguese man-of-war but is threatened by the inert plastic shopping bag”. (Mrosovky. N, 1987; Cited by Earth Resource, 2004). Therefore to move forward from our seeming ‘plastic addiction’, what is to be our rehabilitation recourse? If we are to follow by example, the most achievable solutions should fall in the form of taxation, eradication and in providing/ offering al- ternative products: In the past ten years initial efforts to achieve this have proved successful glob- ally: In Bangladesh and Bombay, plastic bags were banned following the realisation that they were the ‘main culprit during the 1988 and 1998 floods that submerged two- thirds of the country’. (The BBC, 2002; Cited by John Roach, 2003). In Ireland, the
  10. 10. Volume 5 Issue 3 Page 10 introduction of taxes at supermarkets of 15cents per bag resulted in a 90% drop in plastic bag use in the first year. (The BBC, 2002; Cited by John Roach, 2003). And now, close to seven years on, supermarket taxations continue to exist, promoting the individual to adopt a heightened sense of ownership and awareness when it comes to their nonchalant usage- more than anything charging individuals creates an impact as it now ‘directly affects’ them. In addition to these financial charges, we have seen the introduction and esca- lating use of reusable shoppers. The reusable, which was once perceived to be the bag of the hippy, is now all the rage across much of Europe, South East Asia and America: Made of cotton, jute, canvas or recycled plastics, the bags are more durable and thus have a much longer life than the average plastic bag. Though in Tobago, these bags are seemingly few and far between, with the majority of reusable shoppers being brought over by expats. This however is about to change. At present Environment Tobago, the THA Department of Marketing and Mor- shead grocery have all had produced their own reusable bags for public purchase and use. So get GREEN- by a reusable bag today; finally you’ll be able to reduce how many bags you have to lug back from the supermarket; and carry a bag that won’t break with more than four items inside; most importantly, you’ll be helping to reduce further un- necessary impact to our environment. Rare Corals- Discovery- Man-o-War Bay Stuart Sampson For Identification purposes I originally contacted Paul Humann of the fish/coral ID books who could not identify them, he then put me onto Dr Cairnes at the Smith- sonian who also was unable to recognise them. In turn Dr Cairnes put me onto Prof. Sanchez who said he also saw them when diving in Tobago in 2009. What I can do is confirm they are NOT invasive species, they are found only in Tobago waters and more specifically ONLY in the North East Tobago between Sisters and London Bridge. Most abundantly around the outer edges of the Man o war bay area In particular, and great abun- dance at a site called Magnificent (where I believe only I dive) They habit north facing sheltered walls and drop offs between 70 and 120 feet. There are two kinds, one I have called The Crimson Crown which I first noticed and photographed in October 2006 at Sisters, the Habitat of Crimson Crown and other I call the Charlotteville Spray, which seems Charlotteville Sea Spray to be an orange variant of a black spray common to Tobago waters, it looks very similar to the golden sea spray found in the north west Caribbean and inhabits a similar depth etc. but is thicker than the golden sea spray and that is not found in the northern Caribbean region. Most likely this is a new variation of a species.
  11. 11. Page 11 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Crimson Crown Crimson Crown in natural light Charlotteville Sea Spray Close up of Crimson Crown “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” Tobago megawatershed structure explained Bertrand Bhikkary Environment TOBAGO It was at the Cayman Islands hosted Caribbean Water and Wastewater Asso- ciation's 10th Annual conference that Robert Bisson made his definitive presentation on 'Megawatersheds Groundwater Assessment and Recharge Calibration on the Is- land of Tobago'. The date was October 2001, and the Caribbean was still in the dark ages where water retrieval technology was concerned. The events leading to the watershed disclosure in the Caymans had its origins in the African Rift where the first multi-basin aquifer systems were discovered and reported around the early 1980's. In the decade before, the geologic feature, that is fractured bedrock aquifers and aquifer systems, had just become formally acknowl- edged as sustainable, perennial, and economically feasible groundwater sources. Geologic features such as the African mega watersheds were considered by groundwater investigators as the type of 'new' find which only modern methods could reveal. It was a challenge faced by other resource prospectors. For example, before 1970, the known petroleum fields were limited to what could be shown by conven- tional hydrological modelling and investigative techniques. Affordable satellite imagery,
  12. 12. Volume 5 Issue 3 Page 12 computer modelling based on GIS data, and other modern tools changed the face of the entire mining industry as the millennium approached. After 1980, the use of a multi-variant, matrix approach for preliminary assess- ment was applied to the process used by water detection crews, with a similar result for the fresh water industry. It turned out the old methods for 'truthing' had caused the misclassification of the subterranean formations. The results they had generated, ultimately created the unnecessary shortage for the Africans of the Rift, and similarly failed to prove adequate groundwater potential in Trinidad and Tobago. In 1997 Robert Bisson and his team from Earthwater Technology adapted a “Geologic fea- highly modified approach to gauging preliminary assessments for groundwater availabil- tures such as the ity in a pilot project in Tobago. He drew heavily on the work of a USAID sponsored African mega wa- program done in Somalia, where all new factors in the emerging science were added to tersheds were conventional water finding techniques. For all intents and purposes, they combined the considered by old knowledge with the new tools and they went looking for fault lines, fractures, and groundwater in- potential places where water might lie adjacent to previous sources. vestigators as the The Tobago fault line running roughly along the Tobago Main Ridge from a cen- type of 'new' find tral point near Moriah, going on past Speyside and outwards under the seafloor to the which only mod- north. The Fault itself has seven intersects or fractures. These are depicted by the ern methods black lines. It is along the Fault and its fractures that water derived from rainfall runoff could reveal. “ collect in huge saturated subterranean basins, or mega watersheds. By the year 2002 the government of Trinidad and Tobago had solid evidence of the existence of a mega watershed in Tobago at least, with a proven capability to de- liver a sustained 200 million gallons per day of fresh groundwater from hitherto un- known sources. Earthwater Technology Inc. actually went home and in the following year (2003), used the data they had compiled about Caribbean geology to estimate a 'build-out' potential for unmapped and untapped water. The ETI models assert that the Caribbean islands can produce in excess of 2,000 million gallons of water per day from the fractured bedrock systems and mega watersheds. It's important to keep in mind the chronology of events especially in the case of Trinidad and Tobago. In view of its projected water needs, the TT government at the time had started looking at the alternatives to rain fed water supplies, specifically de- salination plants. The eventual path taken for harnessing supplementary water was not to be the optimization of groundwater. Instead using the state agency WASA, they went for a Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) desalinization plant. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DAVID ROOKS. Part 2. Life in Tobago. Edited by Christopher K. Starr and Jo‑Anne N. Sewlal Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies [We conclude here David Rooks's autobiographical essay, based on an interview con- ducted at Talparo, Trinidad on 30 December 2009. At the end of Part 1, David had re- tired from business in Trinidad and moved to Tobago.] One of the things I miss in Tobago is the regular routine of the Field Naturalists' Club to which I had become accustomed in Trinidad. When I moved to Tobago in 1985 some naturalists thought I should start one. I rang the president of the Club and asked that it be discussed at a monthly meeting, with the view that I would found a branch in
  13. 13. Page 13 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Tobago if the Club approved. The Club thought it was a good idea, and and I became the founding branch president. However, once we were organised and meeting regularly, we found that no one else was doing anything for conservation or preservation of the environment. That came to occupy our time, and eventually we decided that we had to take a separate position. We were taking all our time for that and not paying attention to being the branch of the Club. So we called a meeting of the people that were interested in conservation and formed Environment Tobago (ET). For a time ET existed parallel to the Tobago branch of the Club, but eventually we just did not have time for both, so the Club lapsed in Tobago. In the years between the move to Tobago and the beginning of the Tobago branch of the Club, I became a tour operator. At first people found out about me and came to ask me to take them to see specific things or on a hike through the forest. In time, that led me to make a business of it. It did very well until the tourism fell with the second recession around 2005. Then the Tobago tourist situation became dire, as it continues today. We had a meeting with all the foreign agents of Tobago a month or two ago, and they don't paint a rosy picture for the future. Tobago has got a reputation “If there is any now as a crime destination, and since the close‑down of the Hilton the airlines are stat- future for tourism ing that there are not enough rooms to make Tobago an attractive one‑shot destination. They are at present negotiating with the government for concessions to make it worth- in Tobago it has while bringing tourists to Tobago, otherwise they will shut down the Tobago routes. If to be away from that happens, the situation will become impossible, as visitors will have to come to Trini- sending tourists dad first and then find their way to Tobago. I don't know how seriously the government on the beach to- is taking their warnings. The West Indies in general have a bad name, except for Cuba ward natural his- and to a certain extent the Dominican Republic tory. “ Hilton‑style tourism development is of course not the only kind, but at present it is the only economically viable kind? There are people building cabana‑style develop- ments, which will attract some tourism, but the airlines like to think that they can take an aircraft with 300 people to Tobago, and 295 will get off in Tobago. The present reality is that 295 land in Barbados or Cuba or Antigua, and only the last few continue to Tobago, “ To many people t hes e t all pe aks mak e for a challe ngi ng but sce nic hike. B ut t hey are not j ust anot her t all mount ai n to clim b. ” so the airlines don't find it economical. If there is any future for tourism in Tobago it has to be away from sending tour- ists on the beach toward natural history. People are concerned about the planet and what is being done to protect it. That is the area where there is some hope. Tobago has much to offer, such as the oldest legally protected rain forest on the planet, good coral reefs and 210 birds. Unfortunately, the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) doesn't seem much interested in orientating tourists towards natural history. At the peak of my tour‑guiding activity, I had a tour every week and occasionally as many as three or four in a week. Now there are fewer visitors, so I'm lucky to get more than one a month. In addition, tours are much smaller now. I am taking two sci- entists to look for centipedes next month, but that's all I have definitely booked for the month. The visitors who engage me as a guide are middle‑class nature lovers who want to see more conservation around the world and are very much interested in what To- bago naturally has to offer. One family is a good example. They came on their honey- moon. They came back and brought their first children when they were old enough to understand, and last year they brought their grandchildren to go out with me. There is some scope for harnessing the opinions of these visitors for conserva- tion politics, but you have to have numbers. You can make some impact if you get some visitors to write the THA and say how disappointed they were to see this or that hap- pening, and they hope Tobago would realise what a gift they have and do all they can to preserve it. Tobago is a gift to mankind. It has too much original about it not to be so. You can see a variety of land and marine environments, many birds, and much else.
  14. 14. Volume 5 Issue 3 Page 14 You can even get very close to the red‑billed tropicbirds to see them on the nest, one of the most beautiful birds in the world. And we have others, like the blue‑backed manakins. I have shown my visitors their courtship dancing, up close. I would have to rate the public awareness of environmental questions in Tobago as extremely low. I used to write a series of popular articles on Tobago natural history for the Tobago News. One of the few comments I can remember from the public came af- ter I wrote that there were 24 species of snakes and none were poisonous. The com- ment was "That Rooks think he know too much. He saying none of the poisonous snakes in Tobago, but what about the coral snakes?" I also got some good compliments. I was passing by a house, and a Rastaman ran out and asked "You is Rooks?" I said that I was, and he hugged me up and kissed me and said "Keep writing. I does wait for my Tobago News to read your article." I get a lot of people asking my opinion, and I want to start writing again. I think I have a lot to tell the public, because I have experience with nature from both the hunting I also got some side to the conservation side. And like that man making a remark that I think I know too good compli- much, that I say “Tobago has no poisonous snakes,” which is a lot of bunk. ments. I was At a time when agriculture was in decline, the government was receiving a lot of passing by a requests for shotguns licenses in Tobago, supposedly to protect crops. A researcher from house, and a the United Nations investigated and concluded 99% of these requests for licences were for Rastaman ran out hunting, not to protect agriculture. They were using the excuse that they wanted to shoot and asked "You is parrots that were destroying their cocoa at a time when cocoa was almost closed down. Rooks?" I said The researcher strongly recommended issuing no more shotgun licenses. that I was, and he There is room for public argument to stop hunting in Tobago, but it would be very hugged me up hard politically. Many people tell me privately that it should be stopped. It has been rec- and kissed me ommended that Tobago become a game reserve, land and marine. There are sanctuaries and said "Keep in Tobago at present, but there is no one to police them. Among the marine sanctuaries, writing. I does Buccoo Reef is being badly abused. And there is always hunting going on in the rain forest wait for my To- reserve. No one tells them it is a sanctuary, and even during the closed season I hear dogs bago News to when I take tours there. Being an old hunter, I know what those dogs are doing. In To- read your arti- bago a lot of traps are also used. You see them walking with traps at the side of the road cle." in the closed season, quite unconcerned, and no one asks them. On rare occasions I meet people coming out of the forest with guns, and they are very friendly, not worried that I might be a game warden, as I was. I volunteered as a game warden, but after a year I realised it was a waste of time. If I am guiding tourists in the for- ests and see people come out from hunting what do I do? Take out my hand cuffs and put it on them? Besides, the police are not interested. If there was full public information, I believe it would demonstrate that Tobago- nians would benefit more economically from ecotourism than they presently do from hunting. An analysis of the Caroni Swamp in Trinidad many years ago came to just such a conclusion and resulted in the present sanctuary. I would encourage a university-level re- search project on the feasibility of making all of Tobago a wildlife sanctuary. I would say that the fraction of people who are consciousness of environmental issues is much the same in Tobago and Trinidad. The difference is that Tobagonians will not go out and demonstrate against the government, not even if the government is burning down their house. In Trinidad I see them demonstrating for different things, especially around the proposed aluminum smelter. I am glad to see these protests, because the smelter is the worst thing they could allow. It has been proved to be very detrimental in other countries, which is why those countries won't hear of allowing aluminum smelters, so they come to Trinidad. It's a very dangerous type of manufacture. And even after the manufacturing process is finished there is the problem of getting rid of the waste is a prob- lem. You can't get rid of it here without poisoning the country, and other countries won't take it. I have little involvement with ET at the present time, for health reasons. The stress of organising things affects me, so I'm taking a rest. As a result, I'm not up to date
  15. 15. Page 15 Environment TOBAGO newsletter on ET affairs, but the size of the membership is healthy, some hundreds. However, I don't find enough members active, and I don't find that we take advantage of the interested for- eigners as much as we could. I think more writings in foreign natural-history magazines would serve a useful purpose. I have written for a few. I have also been writing a book about saving the Earth from human‑made de- struction. My nephew, Edward Rooks, was a member of the club. He is now an artist based in the USA and also works as a guide for a big tour company in California. He told me that in Antarctica the de‑icing is so fast that where he used to take tourists to walk on ice is now sand, And he says the Great Barrier Reef of Australia is about 1/3 white, it's bleached. The same thing is happening all over the Caribbean. I subscribe to Scientific American, which has occasional articles on climate change, and the one this month will be different to the one next month. One scientist tells me climate change has hap- pened many times in the geological history of the world, and it will continue for the next 20 or 50 years and then go to an ice age, so everybody will be talking about it be- ing too bloody cold. He doesn't seem to share the present excitement about climate change. We have to cut down on some of the manufacturing that we are doing, but he says it is not mankind alone that is causing climate change its natural to the environ- ment and the plan, “I believe it would On a much more local scale, there are several environmental questions that face demonstrate that Tobago today. Hunting is definitely one of them. Garbage disposal is another, as it is not Tobagonians being done in a proper scientific manner. Instead of the garbage degrading, it is becoming would benefit a garbage mountain. The breakdown products that flow out of it poison the rivers. And the people who live near the garbage dump complain about illnesses, which arise from more economi- gases that they inhale. So, we must have a more scientific approach to garbage disposal in cally from ecot- Tobago. A more serious attitude is needed. ourism than they They promised to put in a sewage-disposal system many years and ago, but the presently do from THA decided it was too expensive. Only one of the proposed plants was ever built and is hunting. “ still in operation near Scarborough, but the rest of Tobago is relatively untreated. One area where ET has been active but could be even more so is education, both in schools and in the general public. I would definitely recommend more articles in environment‑related magazines abroad and locally. We do not have nearly enough public education of the environment, how important it is to mankind and what we can do easily to preserve it and what we can do with our tax money. ET is doing work with the schools, but what about when the children leave school? We need to be more active in the society as a whole. ET has avoided all party alliances and must continue to do so. Those have proven in the past to be a trap. However, it is definitely acceptable, even recommended, to work with other NGOs. We have had some initiatives in that direction in the past, but I don't see any at present. And the churches has potential. The churches sometimes tell their parishioners to have a good harvest festival and make sure you serve some good wildmeat to attract the people. They obviously say it in good intention, but the people do not un- derstand the necessity of conservation. There is no reason not to include that message in their preaching. I've been involved in natural history from childhood. It never gave me anything but pleasure, even when I learnt that I should not be keeping wild animals in cages. It is a treasure that is given to each country that you did nothing to create. That plant right there is our national flower, the chaconia. And I just saw a Turkey Vulture go past as we were talking here. They clean up the environment, and they are very interesting to watch. If you find a corbeau nest in the forest I guarantee you will run like hell, because you know what they are feeding on immediately. And the nestlings have a defense method that is very effective. They shoot vomit at you. So I think that conservation should be of prime importance in the plan for us to enjoy the benefit of what we were given.
  16. 16. Environment TOBAGO newsletter Page 16 Traffic on the Courland greens Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO People are strange. The more access they have to something, the less they ap- preciate it. This is a pattern of behaviour with which numerous social scientists, house- wives, and most individuals would agree exists. However the condition goes past our human relationships. It's apparent in the way we treat with nature. The little wood near the beach at Courland Bay is under heavy threat by vehicular traffic As our generation works toward the elusive goals of progress, we need to bear in mind we are travelling a road already taken, indeed one already questioned by others. The negatives are in evidence daily as we witness the First World tasting the bitter fruit of improper development. Daily in the news, we read of their punishments, suffered many times due to the lack of respect for nature. We note with regret as some pay the ultimate price for not being more in tune with the patterns for living in harmony with Earth. We are lucky here, there's no doubting that as a semi-rural people we are still “Courland Bay not quite divorced from the pull of nature. Most adults among us can attest to knowing and the sur- something drawn from a personal experience. While in conversation about it, we can rounding wood is visualize the emerald shades of Buccoo Reef. During travel we boast about the rainfor- one of the few est with strong proprietary feelings, and among family we speak in hushed tones about relatively un- adverse weather as memories of the named storms flash past. modified parts of In drawing upon experiences gained by interaction with those aspects of na- Tobago, bar the ture, we are wise; that is if wisdom can be defined as the ability to be in tune, in touch legally protected with what matters most. So are we really using our knowledge? One way to tell is to forests of the look around us. Seeing the damage we casually inflict on them, it seems the islands Main Ridge. “ trees are more of a humbug to us, a bothersome threat in the face of increasingly ad- verse weather, and a source of irritating bugs for those who pass through wooded ar- eas. In destroying them we use the excuse of 'progress' to take a step backward - in spite of the bad news from elsewhere. In late May of this year, a sporting event was held in the Plymouth area, with the base of operations set alongside the tranquil Turtle beach. It should have been held elsewhere. Why not at Pigeon Point Heritage Park? That is a suitable location for family days, sports, weddings and much more. The well known loca- tion was bought for public use, has the built facilities, and needs the return on the investment to pay for the staff load Vegetation has given way to tire tracks there. On the other hand, Courland Bay and the surrounding wood is one of the few relatively unmodified parts of Tobago, bar the legally protected forests of the Main Ridge. It's beautiful, it's convenient for island residents to enjoy a quick communion with nature, and it's about to be destroyed by vehicular traffic. Already weekend users trample the roots and the undergrowth with their cars and the wildlife is threatened with noise pollution from the music systems. Traffic on the greens of the Courland should be limited to those who walk in
  17. 17. Page 17 Environment TOBAGO newsletter only. Not even bikers should ride while in there, lest they threaten the well-being of kids, toddlers getting the chance of tuning in to their environment at an early stage, or lovers speaking soft words. Presently the area is still salvageable for posterity - yet it can be in constant use as a nature park. The benefits to the cause are many, if benign. We speak daily of the ravages of a growing crime rate, yet we attach little significance to the need for families to spend time together in a setting condu- cive to maintaining social ties. Parks as public spaces are good in this regard, since the benefits of festivals like the Carnival may not serve the same pur- pose. Courland Nature Park. It's a fine sound- ing name, and it needs no funding be- yond what has already been spent by the Tobago House of Assembly in pur- Sparse vegetation at the small woodland near chasing the estate. Community involve- Courland Bay beach ment can do the little things needed. Leave out the construction of the 'public facilities' - it's a short drive to many such amenities in the area. Leave out the car parking facilities, as the nearby public swimming pool is sure to include ample parking. The tree-huggers use the term 'environmental ethics'. It aptly describes the needed keystone approach for Tobago's development in these days. It is not a bad thing to have less, as it affects our relationship with nature. The difficulty is being strong enough to withstand the pressure of new and outside influences. While the main example of this piece centres around a triathlon and all its hoopla, soon there will be more attrac- tions of similar description and with destructive potential. They need to be diligently evaluated. Already last year, there was a high speed car rally in the Courland estate which was justified by the House of Assembly as enabling farm roads to the area. The fact that the existing cart roads of invaluable historical importance were bulldozed was not factored in the cost. The supposition is that seventy or so motor sport enthusiasts and their families would create a fillip to the tourism thrust. Something's wrong with the formula. Are we 'clean, green and serene', or are we suckers for any idea proposed by outside interests? Arguments abound for the need to create attractions for tourism, the islands bread and butter. These actually already exist, as any onlooker would agree. We just need remain in full appreciation, not take them for granted, nor attempt to recreate the ill-fated man-made version. Let us learn from the mistakes of others. As it relates to the Courland Nature Park, keeping to the 'wise' course, the one most in touch with nature's way, will almost certainly see the people of this island taking Mother Nature's tantrums in stride when she demands her share of attention. We are a country folk and we should be proud of it. In the meantime let us show the appreciation we have for a natural Tobago. She doesn't need us. We need her.