Environment TO BAGO new slett er

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Et newsletter june_2008

  1. 1. Environment TO BAGO new slett er E Volume 5 Issue 2 June 2010 n vi r on m e n t TO- BAGO (ET) is a non- government, non-profit, vol- unteer organisation , not subsidized by any one group, International Year of Biodiversity corporation or government body. Founded in 1995, ET is a Scientists estimate that between 150 and 200 spe- proactive advocacy group that campaigns against negative cies become extinct every 24 hours! So in an effort to environmental activities heighten awareness on the alarming rate at which we are throughout Tobago. We losing biodiversity (all living entities on earth) the United achieve this through a variety of community and environ- Nations declared 2010 the International Year of Biological mental outreach programmes. Diversity. Activities this year will focus on the importance Environment TOBAGO is of biodiversity for human well-being. funded mainly through grants ET, a partner with the Convention for Biological and membership fees. These Diversity Secretariat to promote awareness on biodiver- funds go back into implement- Passerby looking at one of sity, started off the activities by ing our projects. We are the exhibitions at Low- grateful to all our sponsors hosting a three-day exhibition at over the years and thank the Gulf City Lowlands mall. The lands Mall them for their continued support exhibition featured artwork by local students as well as infor- mative literature for adults as well as children. On the morning of May 21st teachers and over thirty students of the Scarborough Secondary school got together to remove W hat’s inside over 21 bags of garbage from the Crown point/Sandy Point beach. Garbage from recreational beach goers still seems to be the IYB 2010 1 biggest issue and plastic bottles in Keep A Clean School Com- 2 particular, the biggest offender by petition 2010 — Winners Students recording far. However, following close behind data on the garbage World Environment Day 3 are oil bottles, condoms, cigarette collected What is Intermediate Dis- 4 lighters and building materials. turbance Hypothesis? Help us keep our environment clean Cabbage Lily Infestation 5 and bring mindfulness to all our actions: Students and teachers Interview with David Rooks 7 and the garbage they - Pt 1 • Take a garbage bag to the beach to dispose of waste collected Turtle Beach under stress • Stop littering 10 • Organise your own beach clean ups Keeping Tobago Afloat 11 • Practice responsible construction The Yellow Blaze 13 • Properly dispose of oil bottles Book Review 14 • Get more information What’s Happening @ ET 16 Notes to contributors 18 And enjoy this beautiful island and all its natural beauty.
  2. 2. Page 2 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Winners of the Keep A Clean School Competition 2010 Each year for the last ten years, schools across Tobago are invited to partici- pate in the Keep A Clean School Competition. This competition seeks to bring aware- ness on solid waste disposal issues in Tobago. Schools are asked to use the waste man- June 2010 agement strategy of Reusing, Reducing and Recycling items which have served its origi- nal purpose. This was an opportunity for schools to get creative and become problem- Editor: solvers. This year 24 schools throughout Tobago en- Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal tered the competition. Many of the projects included Assistant Editor: Christopher K. Starr reusing of every day items such as plastic soft drink and Design & Layout: water bottles to make pencil holders, chac-chacs and Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal vases. Other found even more innovative uses such as Technical Support: making lampshades and bowling ball pins! Nolan Craigwell, Jerome Ramsoondar There was a greater emphasis this year on community Nigel Austin activities and so, many of the schools took to the streets Enid Nobbee on foot armed with placards, information and a loud Contributors: voice, urging their communities members to help keep Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal the community free of garbage. One school even went Christopher K. Starr Bertrand Bhikkary to help clean a disabled gentleman’s home in their village. Zoë Charlotte Mason The winning school was the North Regional SDA school Environment which scored high marks in every area of the competi- TOBAGO tion. Next, a tie between Charlotteville Methodist and Photographs: Montgomery Government Primary and placing 3rd was Environment Pat Turpin, ET’s President Speyside Anglican Primary. TOBAGO Bertrand Bhikkary awards a special prize to a Zoë Charlotte Mason student from the School Dawn Glaisher for the Deaf, Hearing Special Prizes were awarded as follows: Wendy Herron Speech Impaired. Board of Directors 2008-2009 Best Beautification Initiative Bon Accord Government Primary School Best Composting Initiative Bon Accord Government Primary School President:: Patricia Turpin Best Vegetable/ Herb Garden Charlotteville Methodist Primary School Vice-President: Best Reuse of Material Moriah Government Primary School Kamau Akili Secretary: Best Community Awareness and Kay Seetal Involvement Initiative Mason Hall Government Primary Treasurer: Shirley Mc Kenna Committee members: Also receiving special commendation was the School for the Deaf, Hearing and Wendy Austin Speech Impaired for their participation in this year’s competition. William Trim We would like to congratulate not just the winners but all participating Fitzherbert Phillips schools. We believe that even though prizes could not be awarded to all schools, each Geoffrey Lewis school, through their learning experience from the project, are all winners and will Bertrand Bhikkary Heather Pepe take home life long lessons. Ryan Allard ET Also takes this opportunity to thank our sponsors, BHP Billiton, National Lotteries Control Board and Petrotrin.
  3. 3. Volume 5 Issue 2 Page 3 Left — Cazelle Roberts-Dyer of NLCB presenting Special Prize to Ma- son Hall Government Primary School. Right — Ms. Singh and student of North Regional SDA proudly displays their First Place Certificate MISSION STATEMENT World Environment Day 2010 E nvironment TOBAGO conserves Tobago’s natural and living resources and advances This year Environment Tobago (ET) commemorated World Environment the knowledge and Day, June 5th by joining the Belle Garden Wetland Association as they launched their understanding of such United Nations supported project: “Sustainable Community-based strategies to conserve resources, their wise and protect the Belle Garden Wetland”. and sustainable use and The project is a community initiative in which one of its aims is to contribute to their essential the conservation and stewardship of the Belle Garden Wetland through increased biodiversity relationship to human monitoring and education. The project is timely and resonates with the theme for this health and the quality of year: Many Species. One Planet. One Future. More generally, 2010 has been designated the International Year of Biological Diversity. It represents a call to ur- life gently repair and reverse the human impacts on biodiversity loss. The project also hopes to contribute to sustainable livelihoods by increasing eco-tourism opportunities in the village. Last year 11 persons, mostly women, from the Belle Garden and surrounding villages were trained and certified as eco tour guides. This group has now formed the Belle Garden Wetland Association and has taken yet another step to promote conservation and management of the wetland via this new project. The principle elements of the project include: • The setting up of a Blue Crab monitoring area • An outdoor butterfly interpretative area/Butterfly garden • Butterfly Ecology Training • Micro-Enterprise Training and Mentoring Environment Tobago is very pleased to be associated with this project and will continue to mentor and provide support the young group. The Soroptimists of Tobago has also pledged their interest and assistance where needed. The group has also received support from Eden Nurseries in Tobago in the form of providing several butterfly-attracting species of plants for the launch of the event. On another note ET joined the Environmental Management Authority at the
  4. 4. Page 4 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Belle Garden Wetland Association at Members of the Belle Garden Wetland work Association Left - Young children assist in the flower-planting exercise; Middle - Devon East- man, Vice President of the BGWA gives a tour to attendees; Right - Mrs. Patricia Turpin and Mr. David Antoine of ET with Dr. Adana Mahase, Project Coordinator for the United Nations supported project: “Sustainable Community- based strategies to conserve and protect the Belle Garden Wetland” enjoys a light mo- ment before the launch of the project at the entrance to the wetland “ 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. ” ECOLOGY NOTES What is the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis? Jo-Anne Nina Sewlal Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies The many and severe bush fires this country has experienced this dry season is the cause of concern for many people as the disturbance they cause to natural ecosystems decreases the amount of biodiversity they contain. Two ecosystems known for their great biodiversity are tropical rainforests and coral reefs. It is a common belief that the fewer disturbances these ecosystems receive the higher the biodiversity they contain. However, the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis devel- oped by Joseph Connell in 1978, states that the opposite is true. The organisms that first occupy a disturbed area are referred to as “generalists” in terms of the wide range of food they can consume and habitats they can occupy. Over time as more biomass accumulates in the ecosystems through the death and decomposition of animals and plants, different vegetation is able to be sus- tained. This means that a variety of microhabitats are available in terms of height,
  5. 5. Volume 5 Issue 2 Page 5 light exposure which in turn controls the temperature and humidity of the microhabitats. Different plants also mean that there is a greater variety of food available. Therefore with this change there is a change of the organ- isms that occupy it with generalists being replaced with specialists, this process is referred to as competitive ex- clusion. So theoretically, ecosystems like tropical rain for- ests and coral reefs should have low biodiversity since the level of competition present would mean that the few species that are expert competitors would push most of the other species making the ecosystem a species poor ecosystem. However, in these highly diverse ecosystems, competitive exclusion is prevented. However, these ecosystems are exposed to fre- Tropical Rainforest quent disturbances, for instance, in tropical rainforests, the occurrence of tree falls. These gaps in the canopy cause the formation of many microhabitats which are home to a variety of organisms. Therefore ecological succes- sion is not allowed to reach optimum levels and support only a few specialized spe- cies. ARTICLES Cabbage Lily Infestation Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO Director The recent proliferation of cabbage lily down at Thompson's river in Lambeau has created a furore among our environmentally aware citizens. Pistia stratiotes may be pleasant to look at but its potential as a trouble-maker cannot be understated. Its pres- ence as a alien plant species has been getting a lot of airplay recently too, as environ- mentalists and politicians alike look to wish it Godspeed and goodbye. Amateur scien- tists may think to look for its origins in expectations of some newsworthy finding, but it's too late to identify any single source of the weed, it's been here, there, and every- where in the world. Celebrated as an ornamental pond plant, the water lettuce - one of its many names, has its uses; Infusion of the leaves is used for dropsy, bladder complaints, kidney afflictions, diabetes, hematuria, dysentery, and anemia. A poultice of pounded leaves can be used in treatment of hemorrhoids, tumors and boils. The juice of shell-flower leaves, mixed with coconut oil, is used for a variety of chronic skin conditions. Pow- dered dry leaves mixed with a little honey used for syphilis, 3 to 4 teaspoons a day. Further, the leaves are used for treatment of ringworm of the scalp, syphylitic eruptions, skin infections, boils and wounds. Cabbage Lily oil extract can be used for worm infestations, tuberculosis, asthma, dysentery, piles, ulcers, burns. Even more, the weed is used for alleviating symptoms of menorrhagia. Among the natives of the Ama- zon basin, it is used for arthritis. That’s the good news.
  6. 6. Page 6 Environment TOBAGO newsletter The not so good part is the presence of the lily itself may be a symptom of 'things gone bad', and getting rid of it may be best done by addressing the cause. Envi- ronment Tobago, as a key island NGO with interests in keeping things green did some peeking around the Lambeau area in an effort to locate why the (sic) serene lilies were growing so well, so quickly. Some potential causes were revealed. There's a fairly large vehicle service facility which operates without care for where the operations wastewater and petro- leum derived wastes end up. Also the sewage overflows from the entire Hamden Lowlands settlement drains into the storm water system for the area. Considering the dearth of rain over the last few months, the liquid content of the Thompson has led to a hothouse of nutrients for the water lettuce to thrive. Before attributing blame to anyone, or to any entity even for a lack of attention to the Water Pollution rules (EMA Water Pollution Rules 2001) Environment Tobago thinks this is a timely reminder that we have to put our house in some sort of order. If Tobago does not attend to its hygiene, its wastes as it con- sumes goods without thought to discarding the wrappings, this small piece of paradise may suffocate. Literally. There's more. As the our NGO team wan- Sluice at Gibson’s Bay Jetty cleared of dered around the Lowlands Hampden this vegetation, back in 2001. Now it is week, one result of the irresponsible approach currently overgrown to land use in the area is made manifest by the presence of a large bog, created by the bull- dozing of large parcels of land further east along the old Milford Road. There, another landlocked morass of lilies cover a fairly large stagnant body of water. There may be “ 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. ” tilapia and other fishes within, but it’s a haven for mosquitoes all the same - and other vectors. Our people observed some hapless members of the expatriate Chinese work- force actually fish for their dinner out of this open cesspool, not a good prognosis for a vertical departure from Tobago. There are highly publicized efforts to control ex- otic diseases which may enter our borders by commercial fights and inter-island ferry. In fact, if given a choice of inconveniences, most citizens would prefer to control our risks in more conventional fashion - by keeping the environment and the water table clean. In closing we may suggest that the lilies at Thompson River in Lambeau could be controlled most effectively by placing opaque sheets of material over the area. It does not have to be the entire river under plastic, as lilies under the covering will per- ish without light. If at the same time a restriction for the detritus is placed at the river mouth and the water allowed to flow yet, when the dead plants are removed manu- ally, those lilies upstream will enter the dark void to undergo the same process. The impending 2009 rainy season can exacerbate the spread of these lilies to other wet- land areas of Tobago. There are wetlands at Granby, Carapuse, and Louis D'Or which can be infested. In other parts of the world, they have used 'biological solutions' to get rid cabbage lily infestation, but we in Tobago today may not want to repeat the mistakes of those who have introduced alien species to get rid of alien species.
  7. 7. Volume 5 Issue 2 Page 7 THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DAVID ROOKS. Part 1. The Trinidad Years. Edited by Christopher K. Starr and Jo‑Anne N. Sewlal Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies [David Rooks is a former president of the Trinidad & Tobago Field Naturalists' Club and the founding president of Environment Tobago. In this two-part series, an interview with him is edited into autobiographical form. The interview was conducted at Talparo, Trini- dad on 30 December 2009.] I was born in Newtown, Port of Spain in September 1936. I have been married twice and have four children: Ronald (b. 1962), Bernard (b. 1963), Courtenay (b. 1965) and Jaclyn (b. 1967). My father, Courtenay Rooks, was the son of an English army officer. My mother, Catherine Carmen Caracciolo, was a descendant of the 18th-century prime minister of the Kingdom of Sicily. Her great-grandfather and his family moved to Venezuela around 1807, because of the Napoleonic wars. They were agriculturalists, who came to Trinidad by way of Venezuela. They bought land and planted cocoa in a big way, and my great grandfather sent my grandfather to Trinidad to buy land and establish cocoa here. He owned land from Tortuga to Mayo. He was very much interested in wild creatures too and put up a statue of St Joseph, his namesake ‑‑ he was Giuseppi ‑‑ to protect the forest and his co- “he tried to marry coa. a Trinidadian girl, My grandfather got married in 1883. It was a long process, because he tried to but his father in marry a Trinidadian girl, but his father in Venezuela found out and said he was not to marry Venezuela found until instructed to do so. He found a Spanish woman in Angostura [now Ciudad Bolívar] out and said he for my grandfather and told him "Go to Angostura and marry this girl. I've organised it all." was not to marry So he went back to Venezuela. When I went to Venezuela as a nature guide, one of our until instructed to tours was through Ciudad Bolívar. I thought I recognised the cathedral, and I found that is do so. “ where my grandparents were married. Across the plaza from the church is the museum, and the pictures on the walls are my mother's aunts and uncles. My family has no connection with the Angostura company, but they had with Simón Bolívar, himself, because they fought with him against the Spanish. Many members of the family were involved with Bolívar in the revolution against Spain, so, I have a military heritage on both sides. My own military training was as a cadet while I was still in St. Mary's College. I was first a boy scout and then became a cadet, because I liked to shoot. I guess that came from my father, who was a volunteer army officer. My favourite pastime was collecting butterflies, and I regret that I did not retain my collection through all my years of moving. I had some lovely specimens, caught all over Trinidad, mostly in the hills behind Port of Spain, Chancellor Road and down in Diego Mar- tin around Rubio, and I used to enjoy coming home from school and looking at my speci- mens. In school my favourite subject was biology, by far, and at the start of the school year I would read all my biology books in the first week, so I would be ahead of everybody. I treated biology like reading stories and learning about real people, which were butterflies, lizards, alligators and agoutis. We even had a pet agouti, which would come to the table and beg for food. He was given to us supposedly to cook for Christmas dinner, but he never saw the table on top, only from below. He became a member of the household and was christened George. The other butterfly enthusiasts and I didn't have Barcant's Butterflies of Trinidad and Tobago [published 1970], although of course I got a copy as soon as I could. Before then, we had to scratch around to find who had what species or what we had caught from works of the early Trinidad naturalists, like Léotaud. I remember Charles Turpin, who lived next door. He was the director of works and hydraulics and remained a close friend all my life. Mr. Turpin had an agouti pen, where
  8. 8. Page 8 Environment TOBAGO newsletter he might have up to 50 agouti. He was a hunter, the type that never shoots his prey. He would catch them and put them in the pen at home. He owned or controlled a lot of land, and wherever agouti were getting scare he would take several from his pen and re- lease them. So he kept the agouti population up to mark. My father was another early influence in natural history, although he was more interested in general species identifying. He was a very keen hunter, but he never overdid it. He always lectured to us on being protective of the animals that we liked to hunt. We shot ramiers [pigeons] and duck, mostly blue and teal. My father would take us into the swamps. He and Mr. Turpin would take us hunting with dogs, mostly for agouti, although on a rare occasion we would shoot a deer or a wild pig [peccary]. We went all over the island. My father was also friendly with one of the big planters in Mayaro. We would go and stay at his house in Mayaro and spend the days hunting. This planter was well versed not only in natural history but in archaeology, so he became known as a collector and identifier of pre-Columbian artifacts. He would take us to the Amerindian middens and identify for us remains of wild creatures that we found there. My father and I also fished a lot, and he would identify what we caught or what we saw. I never asked him how he learnt all that. After finishing secondary school, I went straight into the engineering school for “My favourite the oil industry at Trinidad Leasehold. I was in that programme for three years. It was pastime was col- supposed to be five years, but there was a shortage of drillers, so they shortened it. It lecting butterflies, was mostly engineering, with night school in such things as mathematics and technical and I regret that I drawing. Then I was sent for a year to do practical work under an experienced oil driller, did not retain my and when he certified that I was good enough I got my own rig. I worked from 1958 as collection through an oil driller. all my years of It soon became known in the oil industry that if you needed any wild creature moving. “ identified you should go to David Rooks. That helped to stimulate my hobby of learning about biology. I was reading constantly, everything I could find about nature. I did further training and became a directional drilling engineer, which involves steering the well like a car. The geologist set the target, and I would have to draw a plan to guide the well to that destination. That took a lot of drawing and calculation. And when I was given a job, I was on call around the clock, sometimes working very long hours. It paid well. In that job, if you make a mistake it is very costly to the company, so it is worth it to them to pay for the best they can get. It gave me an opportunity to see different parts of the country, even offshore, so I'd see seabirds and fish on the surface. In fact, offshore drilling rigs, if they are permanent structures, become reefs. You have the biggest and best varieties of fish under them. Many of the old rigs are excellent for scuba diving. I stayed in the petroleum industry until 1965, and even after that I still did the occasional job in it. However, by that time I had become an independent businessman. My close association with the senior engineers in the oil industry had shown me that they were all suffering from the same problem. They had nobody to design or maintain their air conditioning. So I took a course in air conditioning and refrigeration and started my own company, Climate Control, which became the biggest air conditioning supplier in the oil industry. I got into it by natural migration. I moved to Port of Spain in 1966, because I was now getting a lot of work there. It was then that I discovered the Field Naturalists' Club. Before that I had no mentors in natural history aside from the hunters, whose knowledge was mainly limited to species identification. Association with the Club gave me the opportunity to learn from individuals with a deeper knowledge. On field trips, people would separate into groups, each with a knowledgeable person as an unofficial guide. Often I was in a group with someone like Victor Quesnel, who knew just about everything about plants, with Frankie
  9. 9. Volume 5 Issue 2 Page 9 Farrell to back him up. If I saw a butterfly or bird that I wanted to identify I'd ask them, and if they didn't know they would tell me whom to ask. Over several years, then, I de- veloped a good grounding in the natural history of the country. I joined the Club officially in 1973. I was associated with it for several years be- fore anyone told me that I could actually join it. I knew many who where members, and eventually somebody said "Why don't you join?" In 1975 I was elected to the Manage- ment Committee, and I served as president for four one‑year terms. The last came by accident, as Frankie Farrell was elected president, but then he asked to be relieved of duty, on account of advancing deafness, and moved that I be elected to serve out his term. I sold the company to Neal & Massy around 1971 because of problems with a shareholder. It was a private company with five shareholders. One was an oil man who knew that a rise in the oil price was coming. He had an oil company in Saudi Arabia and wanted to take over my company, because he knew that air conditioning would be much in demand when the price rise came. I knew that Neal & Massy also wanted it. At first I told them no, but when this shareholder started to give me problems I discussed it with them and changed my shares in Climate Control to shares in Neal & Massy. Then I realised I didn't like the politics of major corporations, so I retired from business and went travelling over North America. There I saw cultured marble being manufactured, so I took a course in making cultured marble and eventually made a very good product and started a company on the Eastern Main Road in Laventille. I put my money from the Neal & Massy shares into my manufacturing company, Elegant Products, not knowing that a recession was down the road. By 1985 I had no customers. None of them could afford cultured marble. So I shut it down and came to Tobago at the end of 1985. Reference Barcant, M. 1970. Butterflies of Trinidad and Tobago. Collins, London. Turtle Beach, under stress Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO Director Turtle Beach Tobago. Always a place of great activity, it's that same popularity which may remove it from the map. In its documented history the (Courland) bay was the primary send-of point for most of the islands sugar crop. Before that it was where Dutch colonists embarked on their planned settlements for this tropical island. Even “If a beach can be before them, the native Indian (Arawaks) had a semi-permanent presence in the vicin- described as a ity. shadow of it's for- Therefore it would seem that the Turtle Beach, from the time it was first seen mer self, it must by humans, has offered some measure of suc- be Tobago's Turtle cour, whether it was food, or shelter. It's a nice Beach. “ thing to contemplate; Generations past used it, generations to come will use it also. It seems that's a supposition which may be about to change as the present islander may well be key among those who are to blame for the killing of the beach at Courland Bay. If a beach can be described as a shadow View of Turtle Beach over the Black of it's former self, it must be Tobago's Turtle Rock Pond
  10. 10. Page 10 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Beach. In the 'grand discovery of Tobago', a period defined in the tourism sector as somewhere between 1988 and 1994, Turtle beach was the epitome of the Caribbean holiday. Lucky tourists at the time could step out of their hotel room, yawn, and roll into the nearby ocean for an invigorating dip. Or they could mingle with the beach seine fisher folk as the nets came in. In fact it's been ru- moured that the appreciative noises the visi- tors made were just barely drowned out by the persistent sound of the Caribbean waves. No more. No more is the wished for tableau likely to be re-enacted. Turtle Beach is beset by the problems unplanned development brings to an area. It runs the Heavy vehicle traffic will soon kill the trees risk of being lost to other humans for eons at the Turtle Beach seafront as we who live here now insist on interfer- ing with nature's way of doing things. The “The illegal, yet sustained removal signs are obvious, even to the environmentally unaware. The illegal, yet sustained removal of sand from the beach has opened the Cour- of sand from the land area to the ravages of the sea. The unfriendly practice of creating open beachfronts beach has opened for a better view, for better access has placed those same properties at the mercy of the Courland area the sea. In fact, it's not only the private sector who need to take the blame for these and to the ravages of the sea. “ other travesties, the authorities are at fault also. The heavy hand of the State is quite visible on Turtle Beach. In its wisdom, the Tobago House of Assembly regularly hires contractors to remove sand from the “ 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. ” mouth of the Courland River, and also from the front of the Black Rock Pond. Ostensibly it is done for the purpose of improving drainage, or in the case of the latter place, better local health. In the up- shot though the sand which is cleared is off-times used by the construction indus- try. If Turtle Beach could talk, even maybe read a balance sheet, it would Coconut tree on Turtle beach cut down just claim to be major shareholder in many for a cool drink. Can you Imagine? The tree local millionaires business to judge from shown leaning seaward INSET is the chopped the present low level of sand on the one featured. Photo by: Dawn Glaisher beach. Taking the anecdotal approach further; Turtle Beach's proximity to the population center is proving to the prime factor in its demise. The THA (again the culprit with the most reach) only recently acquired lands adjacent to the beach. It was an act that could hold promise for the future of the area, for all concerned. Once again though the goodness factor did not reach the ground. The relevant authorities saw it fit to clear-cut the area to provide parking for the heavily touted an- nual Tobago Jazz Festival. The surrounding wooded areas were also cleared, as security
  11. 11. Volume 5 Issue 2 Page 11 issue demanded - in these modern times. One of the more benign acts of destruction resulting from these activities is the opening of a wide beachfront area, which necessitated clearing the under- growth of a magnificent wooded stand. There are samaan trees there, beach al- monds and several other large examples of local plant life. The stand is a veritable breath of life in what's become a very inhospitable locale. Today the Tobago Heritage Fes- Sand mining. Photo by: Wendy Herron tival AKA the Black Rock Party, takes place on the delicate roots of the trees, tramples the archeological artifacts left to us by those who were not actually our an- cestors. The ecologically unplanned clearance opens up the woodland for daily use by a stream of visitors, all who insist on keeping their vehicles close to hand as they make elaborate and messy picnics or beach fetes. It cannot last of course. Just seventeen years ago Turtle Beach welcomed the masses. What with the rapid rate of unsupervised development in the area it may be just five more before the area may display signage to the effect that being on Turtle Beach is dangerous for one's health. Keeping Tobago Afloat Bertrand Bhikarry Environment TOBAGO Director The problems which Tobago faces in this current dry and fiery period are at the top of the news daily, but instead of gazing on idly, there are many things which ordinary people can do make life easier. These are not grand fixes but we must admit at some point we are facing problems we created ourselves, over time. Looming large is the lack of appreciation that we are about to lose the quality of life as we know it. But what is the problem exactly? It is the lack of respect with which we treat our trees, our streams and by extension our watershed. Sadly in the end it is the way we treat ourselves, since we are the top of the biological chain. Quality of life encompasses the things we, and people before us, worked hard to achieve. Things like sewage treatment, and health care as well agricultural systems. For example irrigation comes to mind. If we were to miraculously change our ways, each and every one of us, then the cost of services we consume will dimin- ish. The entire treasure chest of natural gifts we inherited will be left intact - the way it should be. We will be exemplars in keeping our part of the world pristine for our grandchildren. In fact, we pay lip ser- vice to these ideals every year in the an- Truck removing river gravel nual Tobago Heritage festival.
  12. 12. Page 12 Environment TOBAGO newsletter Further in leaving the hills green and keeping water-filled streams we would have left to them (the next generation) a far more valuable inheritance than some concrete venues and graffiti covered stadiums. We must not forget the costs of maintaining those artificial things when we build them. The term sustainability comes to mind. Forest and reefs and coastal riches, like fish stocks, will pay off a lot more to the Tobago people than basketball ever will. Let's make the island an open university for nature. Look at Grenada, a country we felt sorry for just a few years ago. A country to which we gave generously, secure in the knowledge it's a country without a 'profitable' energy sector. No energy industry but they had SGU. St. Georges University today boasts nearly 8,000 doctors and more than 700 other SGU graduates who have taken Photo showing logging the St. George’s University philosophy of global education while applying their “Let's make the education around the world. island an open The Grenadian people who own guesthouses, taxis, tour companies and university for na- all that sort of thing have built a support system around what is basically an educational ture. “ product. And it's not all there is to it. Students by and large have families who visit. That group does not stay on campus. The simple fact is there is more airlift into Grenada than we have in Tobago today speaks volumes for our tourism savvy. We could take the example. In To- bago we could focus on our biodiversity as the product. We say we do, but that's talk. There is no need to enumerate all the meth- ods through which opportunities arise for making a living as well as a contribution; for that you can contact the young leaders for our environment at the local EMA office (Jones Building Wilson Road, ask for Lind- ford Beckles) Or if you have lost faith in the au- thorities, which is an unfortunate sign of the times, you can get in contact with your local NGO. There is the Buccoo Reef Trust, who The end product of logging had a coast-to-watershed research project on, there's Environment Tobago, who are already always present in the school via their Clean School Project to name just one of their projects. In closing do pay heed to an old American Indian saying: "The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives."
  13. 13. Volume 5 Issue 2 Page 13 The Yellow Blaze Zoë Charlotte Mason Environment TOBAGO The sudden infusion of yellow blaze is seemingly the talk of the island right now, and this time it’s not about the political rallies. From taxis to the stores, people are speaking about the unknown rush of colour overwhelming Tobago’s trees. We’ve gone from drought to delight; our branches are blossoming masses of yellow- funnel-shaped flow- ers and for only a few days duration. It’s a majestic wonder and for many a seasonal sight without a name. The name of this yellow creeper is Macfadyena Unguis- Cati, or the Cat’s Claw Ivy. It’s a ‘high climbing woody vine that can grow up to fifty feet in height’. (University of Florida IFAS, 2009. Centre for Aquatic and Invasive Plants). The vine’s name Cat's Claw ‘derives from this clawed tendril which the plant uses to climb’. (Ken McClymont, 2007. Brisbane Rainforest Ac- tion & Information Network). It originated in South America and is native to Central Cat’s Claw vine al- America, tropical South America also to the Caribbean. Before most totally covering the nineteen fifties it was introduced in Australia and Southern a tree Africa for ornamental purposes, though today it is considered an invasive creeper. This creeping yellow vine can also be found in Hawaii, The South Atlantic Islands, Tanzania and also in tropical parts of Asia to name a few; al- though introduced to these areas it is not consid- ered to be invasive. Whilst the yellow flowering is short lived, the life- span of the Cat’s Claw vine is not. The plant itself grows at a relatively slow rate and is adapted to survive through drought. This said the sufficient irrigation, from the heavy rainfall, that we are ex- periencing right now in Tobago is apt for Cat’s Claw to flourish. We can expect to see many more Close up of Cat’s Claw blossoms weeks of this majestic yellow blaze yet so get your cameras out and get snapping- This vibrant ‘coat’ is set to vanish from our trees as quickly as it blossoms. References: Ken McClymont, 2007. Brisbane Rainforest Action & Information Network. Online at http://www.brisrain.webcentral.com.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=285 [Last accessed 30/05/2010] University of Florida IFAS, 2009. Centre for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Online at http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/259 [Last accessed 30/05/2010]
  14. 14. Page 14 Environment TOBAGO newsletter TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH Ernest Henry Wilson 1913. A Naturalist in Western China. Vol. 1. New York: Doubleday, Page 251 pp. [Twemtieth in a series on "naturalist-in" books.] Christopher K. Starr Dept of Life Sciences, University of the West Indies ckstarr@gmail.com Over a period of 11 years from 1899, Ernest Wilson made four expeditions into the mountainous borderlands of the Yangzi River basin in western China and Tibet. This was a time when vast areas of western China were unknown to western science. The Yangzi -- known in China as the Zhong Jiang, or Long River -- is the third largest river in the world, flowing more than 6000 km, mainly from west to east, mostly through mountainous areas. Botanically, it is an extremely rich region, and Wilson's professional purpose was to collect novel plants for introduction into European and North-American gardens. In all, he collected about 5000 species, including the seeds of more than 1500 species. The central environmental feature in that wild region is topography, and the theme of plant geography runs through this book. He also had much to say about the native non-han peoples, with whom he showed great affinity. The book is a sober, straight-forward narrative, very even in style and format. Wilson does not stop at intervals to change direction and address a particular topic, like stopping a road trip at a scenic overlook. In this respect, A Naturalist in Western China differs markedly from most naturalist-in books. The early chapters give the geographic setting and the various means of rough travel by land and river. In later chapters, much is said about plants seen and collected. How- ever, there is very little explicit mention of collecting. This is a blessing, as the enumera- tion of species and specimens would be quite tedious. Given the heavy baggage demands, the long caravan trips with many assistants were complex, demanding affairs, quite unlike what most of us would consider a field trip. Hard- ships of the route are mentioned, but without dwelling on them. Furthermore, Wilson was present during the Boxer Rebellion and several other anti-foreign uprisings, so it was a risky place to travel in both the physical and human aspects. Even under such difficult conditions, Wilson evidently took copious notes as he trav- eled. His account of places and events has a real loving touch, without the speculation and vagueness characteristic of typical travel literature, for example, "Looking back on the route we had traversed, we saw that the narrow valley is flanked by steep ranges, the high- est peaks clad with snow, but in the main, though bare and savage-looking, they scarcely attain to the snow-line. On all sides the scenery is wild, rugged, and severely alpine." Another example, with finer focus: "By an undulating path we reached the top of the ridge, which is known as T'an-shu-ya (Lime Tree Pass) from a gigantic Linden that occurs there. This tree (Tilia henryana) is about 80 feet tall and 27 feet in girth, and though hollow appears to be in good health. The young leaves are silvery, and the tree, from its size, is a conspicuous object for miles around." Sometimes Wilson went for weeks without meeting another foreigner or hearing English spoken, and in some villages he was the first foreigner the locals had ever seen, so that he was quickly surrounded by a crowd of the curious. (I know what this is like. It can be distinctly annoying, and the best solution is to adapt and treat it with amusement.) One does not expect the author of such an account to take a dewy-eyed view of all Chinese as rarified philosophers. While Wilson manifests a deep love and admiration for
  15. 15. Volume 5 Issue 2 Page 15 the people, he is realistic, with occasional flashes of contempt for individuals and institu- tions. Still, his human sympathy is such that it even extends to the aims of the Boxer Re- bellion. The narration of this adventurous episode reads something like a field-trip report by Dan Jaggernauth. There is extensive ethnographic comment on some of the non-han minorities, but for the most part people and their economy are treated in passing, although in an odd way. There is something about this book that resembles a traditional Chinese painting: a detailed landscape, in which anything that is rendered large is usually a flower or bird, the “In all, he col- human element always present, but tucked away in the distance in a minor role. Some- lected about 5000 times the titles of his photos even fit this pattern, e.g. "Sandstone Bridge with Cypress species, including and Bamboos". the seeds of more The 59 photos, mostly full-page landscapes, are a valuable addition to the text. Many than 1500 species. photos of particular trees effectively serve as specimens. There is also a large fold-out “ map of Sichuan and western Hubei, showing the main part of Wilson's route, although it is misplaced in volume 2. (Vol. 2, published in 1914, is a general treatise on the flora of the region, with chapters on various aspects of rural economy.) Community Announcements "The UTC Tobago CSC is in your neighborhood Call us now to share with your group a Seminar on Financial Plan- ning" Manager: Florence Forbes Contact : 635 2115 Ext. 6201 Business Development Officer : Desiree Hackett Murray Great News!!! In addition to our office, ET’s products are now available at the following locations in Tobago: 1. Shore Things Cafe, Lambeau, Tobago 2. Cards n Stuff, Coco Reef Resort & Spa, Crown Point, Tobago 3. Man-O-War bay Cottages, Charlotteville, Tobago
  16. 16. Page 16 Environment TOBAGO newsletter WHAT’S HAPPENING @ ET ET is now on Facebook and Twitter Environment TOBAGO Environmental and Services Map of Tobago We invite everyone on Facebook to join. Here we will post upcoming events, links, photos and videos on ET matters and They are excellent and will be published every two years. other environmental issues. Published in January 2008. Requests for these maps can be made to ET office. ET group link: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/ group.php?gid=53362888661&ref=ts And keep up to date on what we are up to by following us Volunteers needed! Persons who are interested in helping with cataloguing and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/environ_tobago filing of ET’s educational, research and operational material and archiving. New Members With a membership of 403 worldwide, ET welcomes the following members: Rupert (Smokey) McKenna Penelope Beckles Zoe Mason Gervais Alkins Baidi Schwartz Neerupa Latchman Products featuring artwork from Rainforest Education & Awareness Programme Drawstring bags-TT$130 Tote bags-TT$120 Burlap bags -TT$120 TT$15 per card Postcards or TT$100 for a pack of ten
  17. 17. Volume 5 Issue 2 Page 17 Environment TOBAGO t-shirts and caps now available Type: Polos Type: Lady’s tees Size: Small, Medium & Large Size: Small & Medium Price: TT$150.00 Price: TT$100.00 Colours: Kelly green, royal blue, red, gold and Colours: Lime green, red and black ash grey Description: ET logo printed on Description: ET logo embroidered on left front and sponsor logo at the back breast, sponsor’s logo printed on the back. Price: TT$120.00 Type: Regular tees Size: Small, Medium & Large Price: TT$100.00 Orders can be made through Colours: Kelly green, red, black, navy blue, ash, purple, royal blue the office. and black forest Literature Available The Tropical Rainforest of Tobago — The Main Ridge Price: TT120.
  18. 18. Page 18 Page 18 Environment TOBAGO newsletter READERS’ FORUM Dear ET Newsletter Readers, Office: 11 Cuyler Street Scarborough, We want to hear from YOU! Tobago, W.I. Comments may be edited for length and clarity. Send your comments to: jo_annesewlal@yahoo.com Mailing address: P.O. Box 503, Scarborough, or envirtob@tstt.net.tt Tobago, W.I. Phone: 1-868-660-7462 Fax: 1-868-660-7467 GUIDELINES TO CONTRIBUTORS E-mail: envirtob@tstt.net.tt Articles on the natural history and environment are welcome especially those on Trinidad and Tobago. Articles should not exceed approximately 1200 words (2 pages) and the editors reserve the right to edit the length. Images should be submitted as separate files. Submit material to any of the following: 1) jo_annesewlal@yahoo.com 2) envirtob@tstt.net.tt Deadline for submission of material for the 3rd Quarter 2010 issue of We are on the web the Bulletin is September 10th, 2010. http://www.Environmenttobago.net EMAIL ________________________________________________