Resource Manual Part One


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Resource Manual Part One

  1. 1. An information and resource book on Tobago’s environment for teachers and other educators Principle Authors Contributing Authors Anoushka Visvalingam Graham Wellfare Nicole Leotaud Dr Owen Day Kamau Akili Environment TOBAGO volunteers Environmental Education in Primary Schools was published in 2003 by Environment TOBAGO and funded by the BPTT Leader Award. All pages in this book may be copied without the written permission of Environment TOBAGO for environmental education use.
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction Acknowledgements -------------------------------------------------------1 Environment TOBAGO Mission Statement -------------------------- 1 About the Environmental Education in Primary Schools Programme -----------------------------------------------------------------1 Rationale Behind the Environmental Education in Primary Schools Programme ------------------------------------------------------2 Overall Goal ---------------------------------------------------------------2 Aims ------------------------------------------------------------------------2 The Philosophical Foundation ------------------------------------------3 The Psychological Approaches ----------------------------------------4 Environmental Education Activities -----------------------------------6 Teachers who took part in the Environmental Education in Primary Schools Programme 2003 -----------------------------------------------7 Information on Tobago’s Environment Major Environmental Problems Affecting Tobago -------------------8 Fact Sheets on the Environment Coral ---------------------------------------------------------------------9 Coastal Sewage Pollution ------------------------------------------- 11
  3. 3. Littering and Solid Waste Disposal ------------------------------13 Sustainable Harvesting of Game Animals ------------------------15 Sea Turtles ------------------------------------------------------------17 Wetlands of Tobago -------------------------------------------------19 The Tobago Forest Reserve ----------------------------------------20 Tropical Rainforests by Graham Wellfare-----------------------------21 Mangroves and Coral Reefs by Dr Owen Day -----------------------36 Wetland Information Pack by Nicole Leotaud -----------------------50 Sources of Information and Resources Useful Resources and Sources of Information -----------------------72 Field Trips -----------------------------------------------------------------76 Planning a Unit of Lessons Planning a Unit of Lessons ----------------------------------------------77 Lesson Plans Using the lesson plans ----------------------------------------------------87 Infant 1--------------------------------------------------------------- 88 Infant 2 --------------------------------------------------------------101 Standard 1-----------------------------------------------------------115 Standard 2 ----------------------------------------------------------130 Standard 3 ----------------------------------------------------------149 Standard 4 ----------------------------------------------------------158 Standard 5 ----------------------------------------------------------173 Glossary -------------------------------------------------------------------184
  4. 4. Acknowledgements Environment Tobago (ET) wishes to express its thanks and gratitude for the contributions made by the following organizations and individuals towards the successful implementation of the Environmental Education in Primary Schools Programme and the publication of our teachers’ resource book. In particular, ET would like to express its appreciation to British Petroleum Trinidad & Tobago (BPTT), for their financial assistance through the BPTT Leader Award, which made this programme and the development of this teacher’s resource book possible. In addition we would like to thank the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Department of Education for their co-operation, St Josephs RC Convent School for the use of their facilities to host the teacher training workshops, Vice President of ET, Kamau Akili, who was the main lecturer at the teacher training workshops, former ET Education Officer, Nicole Leotaud, who devised many of the lesson plans, Gillian John, Angela Ramsey and Kamlyn Mellville from the THA Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Dr. Owen Day from Buccoo Reef Trust who provided information and lectures on Tobago’s ecosystems, field naturalist, David Rooks and ET volunteer, Graham Wellfare who conducted field trips for the teachers to observe and learn about Tobago’s rainforest, reefs and wetlands, ET volunteer, Anoushka Visvalingam who co-ordinated the programme, devised lesson plans and conducted demonstration lessons and finally, all the teachers who participated in the programme. Environment TOBAGO – Mission Statement Environment TOBAGO conserves Tobago’s natural and living resources and advances the knowledge and understanding of such resources, their wise and sustainable use, their essential relationship to human health and the quality of life.” About the Environmental Education in Primary Schools Programme In 2001, Environment Tobago succeeded in winning the BPTT “Youth in Education” Leader Award for an innovative education programme that seeks to improve student learning and achievement in the academic field. Initially ET developed a pilot programme in three Secondary Centres in Tobago, using environmental education as a tool for interdisciplinary hands on teaching across the Secondary Centre curricular. In 2002, the programme was adapted for Tobago’s Primary schools, in order to develop a methodology and teaching guide for infusing environmental education across the Primary school curricular. With the current emphasis on the core curriculum subjects, ET felt that this was the best way of ensuring that environmental concepts were taught. 30 teachers, from around Tobago attended the teacher training workshops and field trips in order to learn about Tobago’s ecosystems, environmental issues around the island and how to plan lessons to infuse this information into the Primary school curricular. ET’s eco- classroom then visited schools, conducting demonstration lessons for participating teachers. Finally, this teacher resource book was put together, providing information on environmental issues and lesson ideas. It has been distributed to all Tobago’s schools, both Primary and Secondary and all other interested parties. 1
  5. 5. Rationale Behind the Environmental Education in Primary Schools Programme Environmental education is the fundamental strategy used in the fulfillment of Environment TOBAGO’s mission of environmental conservation and sustainability in Tobago. At present, there is a great need to raise awareness and concern of environmental issues on the island, as it faces many problems. Thus, we believe that environmental education is crucial for the protection of Tobago’s rich and diverse natural heritage. What better place to start than Tobago’s Primary schools? It is vital that, from an early age, children acquire a good knowledge and understanding of their surroundings and the natural resources it provides. Only then can we hope to create and foster a respect for the environment and a desire to preserve it. In addition, to increasing children’s knowledge and awareness of environmental issues, environmental education uses methods of teaching that are very effective for learners of all abilities. Learning is experiential, inter-active, hands- on, creative and stimulates interest and excitement about learning. Environmental education is holistic and interdisciplinary and uses nature as a teaching tool to deepen understanding of curriculum areas. It therefore provides an important mechanism to support and enhance learning within the school system, by inspiring students to explore their environment, while at the same time gaining the knowledge and skills they need for life. Overall Goal The overall goal is to help primary school teachers expose their students to important environmental concepts, principles, problems and issues within the curricula structure. Aims For students • To heighten environmental sensitivity and empathy toward the environment. • To increase awareness and understanding of the principles, problems and issues relevant to the interactions and interrelationships between human beings and their environment. • To aid in the instillation of a positive environmental attitude or ethic. • To contribute to the development of positive actions and behaviours towards the environment. For teachers • To provide teachers with lesson plans featuring creative, hands on ways to include environmental learning into the existing syllabus for each subject, so that learning about the environmental topics facilitates or enhances learning about the topics in that subject. • To provide teachers with background information on environmental topics that they can use to prepare for these lessons. 2
  6. 6. The Philosophical Foundations The conservation and protection of the natural environment, in the context of sustainable development, is recognized as one of the major challenges facing our society today. The need for appropriate education sector responses has been identified in the Trinidad and Tobago Education Policy Paper (1993-2003) that proposes the following: While Environmental Education may not be a new ‘subject’ or ‘concern’, the immediacy and urgency of environmental issues demand that we address it anew in our school curriculum. As a matter of strategy and for effective accommodation within an overcrowded curriculum, Environmental Education must be pursued by way of an ‘infusion approach’ thereby giving it added focus and emphasis appropriate in every subject. The danger that Environmental Education might become the responsibility of none can be avoided through training and enabling supervision. Environment Tobago strongly supports the above stated proposals and in response has developed an Environmental Education Programme for the formal education sector based on the following underlying philosophical assumptions: - A learner-centered approach to education is most appropriate to existing individual and social needs; - The school is an open system that is influenced by the external environment and in turn exerts influences on the external environment; - The school must be regarded as a learning community in which students, teachers and other stakeholders are engaged in lifelong learning; - A flexible curriculum is necessary to allow adaptation to a rapidly changing environment; - The curriculum must seek to integrate the various disciplines; - Environmental education must be infused into all disciplines; - Cognitive, psychomotor and affective development of the learner is essential for creating the environmental stewardship necessary for effective environmental conservation and protection; 3
  7. 7. The Psychological Approaches Any attempt at education including environmental education must be based on sound understandings about how children learn. The challenge however is that a number of different and sometimes conflicting psychological theories of learning exist in the field of pedagogy. The approach taken in developing this environmental education guide is eclectic, i.e., a mix of different theories. The major learning theories that have been applied are behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism and multiple intelligences. The application of behaviorism is illustrated by the use of behavioral objectives in the sample lesson plans and some emphasis on observable behavior. It should be recognized however that the behavioral approach has limitations including the difficulties of accommodating all possible learning outcomes for a class. Cognitivism differs from behaviorism in that the observed behavior is not the primary objective but rather an indicator of what is going on in the learner’s head. The focus is on the learning process. In this context this guide has attempted to give significant attention to cognitive or thinking processes, particularly higher level thinking that can contribute to the development of the values and attitudes that are critical to environmental stewardship. More recent research in cognitive psychology supports the theory of constructivism which proposes that learners construct knowledge for themselves and each individual constructs his or her own perspective of the world based on individual experiences and schema. Constructivism is not a new idea however modern education research has given it new life. In applying constructivism in this guide significant emphasis has been given to ‘active’ learning, reflective activity and learning as a social activity with the major goal of developing problem solving capabilities. 4
  8. 8. The theory that human intelligence has multiple dimensions has also been applied particularly because of the identification of the naturalist intelligence that is defined as the ability to understand, relate to, categorize, classify, comprehend, and explain the things encountered in the world of nature. The development of this intelligence has significant implications for environmental protection and conservation. Multiple intelligence theory also offers the opportunity to address many different aspects of the learner’s development in dynamic situations in which one intelligence can be used to enhance other intelligences. In summary, the psychological approach taken has been to apply different learning theories based on the recognition that all theories have inherent advantages and disadvantages and all have been applied in the school system to a greater or lesser degree. Ultimately, it is the teacher who must select the approaches that are most appropriate to the demands of the specific teaching and learning environment. 5
  9. 9. { EMBED PhotoSuite.Image } { EMBED PhotoSuite.Image } Demonstrating how sediment Students examining pond life. runs off the land to pollute coral reefs { EMBED PhotoSuite.Image } Playing “wetland metaphor” game with students. Students playing the “food web” game { EMBED PhotoSuite.Image } { EMBED PhotoSuite.Image } Boat ride at Kilgwyn Wetlands Field trip to mangrove swamp 6
  10. 10. Teachers who took part in the Environmental Education in Primary Schools Programme Teacher School Jaqui Dillon Scarborough RC Brigid London Scarborough RC Eulalie Hills Scarborough RC Sherla James Scarborough RC Anne Williams Scarborough RC Dave Phillips Scarborough RC Emlyn Charles David St. Andrews AC Edna McMillan St. Andrews AC Gareth Gray St. Andrews AC Rosetta Ross St. Andrews AC Alison Roberts St. Andrews AC Patricia Phillips Gregg St. Andrews AC Winnifred Douglas St. Andrews AC Patricia Malcom St. Andrews AC Euestine Beckles St. Andrews AC Eileen Gregg St. Andrews AC Carla Kerr Plante Mason Hall Government Henrietta Caton Joefield Mason Hall Government Rawle Anderson Scarborough Methodist Wendy Dalrymple Scarborough SDA Irwin Benjamin North Regional SDA Tricia Timothy Castara Government Milton Eastman Mt St. George Methodist Lenney Blackman Roxborough AC Sonia Osmond Golden Lane Government Marilyn Murray Golden Lane Government Tress Hilaire St Josephs Convent Dorothy Campbell St Nicholas Kerleen Alexander Harmon SDA Meave Nelson Hope AC 7
  11. 11. Major Environmental Problems Affecting Tobago Some ideas for environmental themes to be taught Littering and illegal dumping Loss of vegetation in built up areas Wildlife depletion due to over hunting and habitat destruction Soil erosion due to poor agricultural and land development practices Loss of wetlands due to resort development Noise pollution Sewage pollution from households, resorts and yachts Air pollution from motor vehicle emissions Loss of coral reefs due to sewage pollution, siltation and reef walking Mining of beach sand leading to coastline erosion Mining of river gravel Over fishing 8
  12. 12. FACT SHEET - No. 1 December 1998 CORAL These are coral polyps, the animals responsible for building the beautiful coral reefs that surround Tobago. Over thousands of { EMBED CDraw } years, billions of these creatures have built the world’s reefs, some of which are hundreds of miles across. Coral reefs are one of Tobago’s most precious natural resources. Within the world's oceans, the greatest variety of life (bio- diversity) is found on coral reefs. These fragile reefs play a critical role in sustaining a thriving ocean habitat, especially in tropical oceans. They also provide many benefits to humans as well. Nearly 400 million years ago, before there were any animals on land, the primitive ancestors of coral reefs formed in the seas. Today's coral reefs were built up during the last 10,000 years, as the last Ice Age ended and the glaciers receded. Coral reefs are the oldest complex natural communities or ecosystems existing on Earth. Buccoo Reef is the largest and most famous reef in Tobago, but there are also reefs at Speyside, Arnos Vale, Englishman’s Bay, Charlotteville and many other bays all around Tobago. The seas around Tobago support rich coral growth because of adequate temperature conditions (between 23°C and 28°C), and relatively clear water, with little suspended matter. Much like their relative the sea anemone, coral polyps have sticky tentacles with stingers to catch passing prey for food. At night, the polyps feast on small floating organic material called plankton, which populate the oceans. But their primary source of food are microscopic plant cells called zooxanthellae (pronounced “zoh - an – thell – eye”) that actually live within the tissue of coral polyps. These plant cells also provide the coral's wide variety of colors. Coral polyps grow in colonies, which means that each individual animal is attached to another, and then another. Food can be passed from one polyp to another through tubes connecting the polyps called coenosarcs. A colony can grow to be quite large. In the reef at Speyside is one of the largest brain corals known worldwide, over 10 feet in diameter! It contains many thousands of individual coral polyps all living together. Reef-building is a very slow process. Staghorn coral, for instance, grows at approximately one centimetre per year. It is estimated that present-day Buccoo Reef represents ten thousand years of coralline growth and reef formation. There are about 735 species of reef-building corals the world over of which 39 are known to exist in the waters around Tobago. LIFE ON THE REEFS Tobago’s reefs boast an array of brightly-coloured fish including, among others, parrot fish, wrasses, spot-fin and other butterfly fish, trumpet fish, toadfish and angel fish. Reef fish feed on smaller organisms found within the confines of reef waters and, in some instances, on the coral themselves. Fishes however, are not the only colorful components of the reef ecosystem. In addition, there are the flambouyant sea whips, fans, brittle stars, molluscs and different varieties of sea urchins (sea eggs), some of which are transparent, and of different shapes and sizes. To say nothing of the sea anemones and sponges and various algae (sea weeds) which abound in the coral reef habitat. 9
  13. 13. THREATS TO THE REEFS A wide variety of human activity has damaged almost all of the world's coral reefs in recent years. Human damage also weakens the reefs' ability to recover from natural disasters (see Coral Bleaching). Some experts predict that unless changes are made soon, most of the world's coral reefs will be dead in just 20 to 40 years from human causes. This would be a major catastrophe for life in the world's oceans, and for the human communities dependent upon the reefs for food, income, medicine, and coastal protection. • Pollution poisons coral polyps. Pollution takes on many forms including oil and grease, pesticides and other chemicals, sewage and garbage. Fertilizer runoff and untreated sewage introduce added nutrients to coastal ecosystems. These elevated nutrient levels promote algae growth. Unfortunately, high concentrations of algae or solid sewage can overwhelm and smother the polyps. Under normal conditions, herbivores, fish and some invertebrates keep the algae population in check. • Deforestation degrades more than just land habitats. When tropical forests are cut down to clear land for agriculture, pasture, or homes and roads, topsoil washes down rivers into coastal ecosystems. Soil that settles on reefs smothers coral polyps and blocks out the sunlight needed for corals to live. • Coastal development and dredging ravages reefs. This development includes building seaside homes, hotels, and harbors. • Besides fishes, fishermen harvest a variety of exotic seafood from the reef including conchs and lobsters. Visitors to Buccoo Reef can view the reef through glass-bottomed boats. The practice of allowing tourists to leave the boats and walk over the reef has severely damaged areas of the reef and this practices continues today, even after Buccoo Reef was designated a restricted area in 1973. CORAL BLEACHING Every coral species maintains a symbiotic (meaning both species benefit) relationship with microscopic organisms (algae) called zooxanthellae. The zooxanthellae provide the coral with oxygen and some organic compounds they produce through photosynthesis. When stressed, coral expels its zooxanthellae. The polyps of the coral are left without any pigmentation (zooxanthallae give coral its beautiful colours) and appear nearly transparent on the animal's white skeleton. This is what scientists mean when they talk about coral bleaching. Numerous laboratory studies have shown a direct relationship between bleaching and water temperature. A two or three degree rise in temperature (above 28°C) can trigger the bleaching effect. Corals can recover from bleaching unless high water temperatures persist for too long a period or become too warm to permit recovery. The coral's ability to feed itself in the absence of zooxanthellae seems to be a key to survival. Reestablishing the symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae can take from two months to a year. When the level of environmental stress is high and sustained however, death of the coral may result. This will go on to affect the rest of the ecosystem in a highly negative way. Coral bleaching is a global phenomenon. Since the 1980s nearly all of the world’s coral reefs have been affected. Many scientists attribute bleaching to global warming caused by the green house effect. Some experts predict that if a global warming trend continues coral mortality could reach 95%. Coral bleaching was reported in the reefs around Tobago for the first time in 1998. The THA Marine Affairs Section conducted a Coral Disease Survey in 1998 as part of CARICOM’s Caribbean Coastal Marine Production project. Reefs at Buccoo, Speyside and Pigeon Point were studied and bleaching was seen at each location. At one particular area 50% of the coral was affected. Water temperatures as high as 30 degrees C were recorded. Reports of bleaching have been received by Environment TOBAGO at many other bays. 10
  14. 14. FACT SHEET - No. 2 December 1998 Coastal Sewage Pollution In nature, nothing exists alone. Living things relate to each other as well as to their non-living but supporting environments. These complex relationships are called ecosystems. Each bay in Tobago is a delicately balanced ecosystem in continuous interaction with the surrounding air and land. Whatever occurs on the land and in the air also affects the water. If man-made pollutants enter the sea, the water can purify itself biologically but only to a degree. The water can absorb only so much. It reaches a point where the natural cleaning processes can no longer cope. Types of Pollution There are many types of pollution that can negatively effect Tobago’s coastal waters and the marine life they sustain. Among these are fertiliser run-off, siltation from erosion and construction, garbage, gray water from homes, schools, hotels and other establishments, chemicals (paints, oil, grease, cement, etc.) from construction, gasoline and diesel fuel from service stations and sewage. Sewage is the waste (faeces and urine) from humans and animals. Sewage Pollution and Disease Sewage pollution is of special concern because it can carry disease-causing micro-organisms called pathogens. Pathogens usually come from land-based carriers. If a person or animal is carrying a disease then the waste from that person or animal will contain the pathogens that cause that disease and if this waste is not treated properly the disease carrying pathogens may enter the sea. A range of diseases can be carried by pathogens, including gastroenteritis, dysentery and hepatitis. The consequences of these diseases can be more severe for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Bathing in water contaminated with sewage can cause skin infections, rashes and infections of the eye, nose and eyes. Sources In Tobago sewage pollution can come from: 1. Non-functioning sewage treatment plants. The Environmental Management Authority reports that there are 13 non-functioning treatment plants in Tobago (1996 State of the Environment). 2. Domestic and commercial pit latrines and septic systems. The combined effluent from pit latrines and septic systems of homes and small commercial establishments can leach through the soil and enter storm drains, gullies and rivers and flow to the sea. 11
  15. 15. 3. Yachts. Yachts usually have no on-board waste treatment systems. Raw sewage is held in tanks and then expelled into the sea. 4. Animal farms. Many people in Tobago raise pigs, goats, chickens and cows. Often the waste from these animals is washed into the surrounding environment and can enter storm drains and road gutters to be carried to the sea. Tobago Community Water Watch Network With the participation of school students and community volunteers, Environment TOBAGO is testing the water quality of several bays in Tobago, as well as the drainage systems of several coastal villages, an area where yachts moor and commercial and residential treatment plants. The results of these tests indicate that in some areas dangerous amounts of sewage are entering Tobago’s coastal waters. Historical Perspective The problem of sewage pollution in Tobago is a very good example of how environmental concerns are so often overlooked as a developing society strives to raise its standard of living. Limited resources are used up providing basic necessities such as health and social services, infrastructure and food with no thought as to how the environment may be effected by these activities. In the case of sewage disposal, negative effects may not be noticeable as long as population levels are low. Nature can absorb man-made pollution to a degree. As development increases, this natural limit is passed. The Present Situation The situation in Tobago is now critical. With the rapid expansion of the tourist industry added to our already overloaded and insufficient commercial and residential waste treatment facilities, sewage pollution has reached a point where we can no longer ignore the consequences. Recommendations Regulations must be put in place to ensure that all sewage is properly treated before being released into the environment. An island-wide water quality-monitoring programme must be implemented. Regular testing of rivers, drains and beaches will provide the data needed to begin the process of reducing sewage pollution. A monitoring programme will also show us where dangerous levels of pollution exist so that these areas can be avoided by bathers. Serious efforts and adequate resources must be directed towards the elimination of coastal sewage pollution in Tobago. 12
  16. 16. FACT SHEET - No. 3 December 1998 Littering and Solid Waste Disposal Littering is the improper disposal of bits of trash by individuals. When you drop an empty bottle on the ground you are littering. All man-made waste except sewage is considered solid waste. Solid waste is everything that we no longer want and need to get rid of. It may be composed of glass, metal, plastic, wood, paper or cardboard. Chemicals and vegetable material also form part of our solid waste. In Tobago, there is only one place where solid waste is supposed to end up: the Studley Park Integrated Waste Facility. Here, garbage of all kinds is dumped and covered with soil. It is called a land fill. Dumping any kind of garbage anywhere else in Tobago is illegal. Littering is also illegal. Littering becomes a serious environmental problem when the practice is widespread. Even though one person may only drop a single bottle or candy wrapper on the ground per day, if thousands of people are doing this, then the resulting garbage on our streets and in our countryside becomes an eye-sore and a health problem. Trash thrown in our rivers will be carried to our beaches and into our coastal waters. Plastic bags floating in the sea can be eaten by sea turtles (they mistake the plastic for a jelly fish, which is their main diet). Many sea turtles have been found dead after choking on plastic material. Illegal dumping of garbage is far too common in Tobago. There are many areas where people can dump truck loads of their garbage without being seen. Any undeveloped area a little way off the main road will do. It is also easy to dump garbage off of steep hillsides, either into thick bush or into the sea. Historical Perspective In days gone by, most waste was made of wood or cardboard. There wasn’t as much glass, metal, plastic or concrete as there is today. And there weren’t as many people. Wood, cardboard and plastic could be burned. Small quantities of glass and metal and could be buried. As our population grew and our island became more modernised, more products came on the market made of, or packaged in, glass, metal and plastic. Reinforced concrete became the preferred building material. At some point it became necessary to implement a system of solid waste disposal. The objective of this system was, and still is, to gather all solid waste and transport it to a location where it can be safely dumped and covered. Garbage Is Ugly In Tobago, before each Christmas, Tobagonians spend several days fixing up their homes. They buy new curtains, wash or repaint their walls, sweep and mop their floors and generally make their home look as shiny and new as possible. In fact, cleaning our homes is a daily chore all year round. We wouldn’t think of letting trash and old food build up in our kitchen or parlor. And yet it seems that many people on Tobago have no objection to seeing (and smelling) garbage all around them as they walk or drive around our island. The same 13
  17. 17. litter that is ugly and unwanted in our homes and yards is OK on our beaches and streets. Many people also think the system works like this: we throw it down, others pick it up. These attitudes need changing! Garbage Equals Disease Garbage is a breeding ground for flies and mosquitoes. Flies lay their eggs in wet organic garbage. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Water collects in thrown away bottles or any bit of garbage that can hold water. Flies and mosquitoes carry diseases. Dengue fever is carried by mosquitoes. At the Studley Park Facility, bull dozers are used to cover garbage with soil to ensure that no garbage is exposed to the air and no flies or mosquitoes can reach the garbage. Bio-degradable vs. Non-bio-degradable Some material will degrade biologically in nature. If vegetable matter is buried, it is broken down by bacteria and soon becomes part of the soil and in fact adds nutrients to the soil which is good for plants. Many gardeners create compost heaps in which they combine soil and vegetable matter which over time becomes an effective fertiliser for their crops. Paper and cardboard are made of wood and will eventually decompose and become part of the soil. This is why bio-degradable matter can be buried and will pose no problem. Other materials are non-bio-degradable. Iron-based metal degrades very slowly by rusting. Glass and most plastics degrade even more slowly – over tens or even hundreds of years. If you look at our river mouths and our beaches, you will see mostly old objects made of glass and plastic or rubber. Non-bio-degradable objects do not disappear when thrown away. Recycling In most developed countries solid waste disposal became so expensive and problematic (they were running out of places to put it) that people began to look at waste from a different angle. They reasoned that instead of spending more and more money to properly dispose of garbage, they should find ways to use the garbage again. Glass bottles were one of the first things to be “recycled” on a mass scale. Instead of throwing bottles away, they are collected and sterilised and used again. Old paper is made into pulp and mixed with new wood pulp to make into new paper. Metals are melted down and made into new products. In China, you must return your old toothpaste tube before you can buy a new tube of toothpaste! By recycling, we can greatly reduce the amount of garbage needing disposal. In Tobago, several attempts have been made to introduce glass recycling but they have all failed. Bottles and jars have to be collected. Glass has to be crushed and shipped to Trinidad. In order to succeed, recycling must provide a profit for those doing the work. So far, this has not been possible in Tobago. Recommendations Littering and illegal dumping must stop. To stop littering, people’s attitudes must change. Litter must be put into litter bins. More litter bins must be provided and they must be emptied regularly. Stores must become responsible for transporting their garbage to Studley Park instead of dumping it on and around overflowing litter bins. People’s attitudes to illegal dumping must change as well. Laws against illegal dumping must be enforced to stop those whose attitudes cannot be changed. Only the concerted effort of each and every Tobagonian with the support of the relevant public agencies will result in a litter free Tobago. 14
  18. 18. FACT SHEET - No. 4 December 1998 Sustainable Harvesting of Game Animals A Strategy for the Conservation and Restoration of Tobago’s Wildlife “Game animals” are animals living in the wild that are hunted and killed (“harvested”) by man for their meat, fur, feathers or shells. In Tobago, the wild pig (peccary), the agouti, the manicou (possum), the iguana, the tattoo (armadillo), the sea turtle (leatherback, green and occasionally the hawksbill) and their eggs, the pelican and other sea birds and their eggs are all harvested. “Sustainable” means that something can be continued indefinitely. If something is done in a manner such that sooner or later it can no longer be done, then it is unsustainable. For example, if a lumber company cuts down all the available trees and doesn’t plant any new ones, eventually it will go out of business. If hunting is to be allowed in Tobago, then our game animals must be managed wisely to ensure that they are not over-hunted and killed off completely. Many people believe that our wild animals are not being managed wisely and that we are in danger of losing them. No wild animal population surveys have ever been done in Tobago, so there is no scientific proof that populations are declining. But if we look at the historical record, we can see that it is certainly possible for entire species to be wiped out by over-hunting. Almost four centuries ago there were twenty-four land-based mammals, two water-based mammals and two macaws native to Tobago. Hunting for food, fur and feathers destroyed fourteen of these mammals and both macaws. Among those exterminated were the monkey, fox, musk rat, ocelot, deer, manatee and river otter. It is reported that the last member of the Tobago deer population was shot in the 1970’s at Lowlands. { EMBED CDraw } Historical accounts tell of beaches in Tobago covered with nesting The Red brocket deer, one of many sea turtles. Today we find far fewer. Older hunters will tell you that ex-Tobagonians when they were younger the species left today were far greater in number. The Tobago House of Assembly Forestry Division agrees with these hunters. The Assistant Conservator of Forests has stated that “the numbers of game species are much less than they should be.” He said that “the catch per hunting effort is steadily decreasing.” In some cases “such as the agouti and tattoo, their numbers may be too low to be viable.” When he says “too low to be viable” he means that even if all the agoutis, for example, are not killed, the agouti population can become so small that the remaining animals will die out naturally. They become so scarce and separated that males and females cannot find each other to mate. To achieve a sustainable harvesting of game animals, limits must be placed on the number of animals taken each year. These limits are determined by the animals’ growth rates, or their ability to increase their numbers. Very simply put, the number of animals taken each year should not exceed the number of young born each year. 15
  19. 19. First, we must be sure that our game animal populations are allowed to grow to their maximum levels, which is determined by the size of their habitat (area where they live) and the availability of food. To achieve maximum population levels, a complete ban or moratorium on hunting may be necessary for one or more years. Next, we must ensure that hunters do not kill too many of each species of animal each year. Either the hunters must do this voluntarily or hunting laws must be effectively written and strictly enforced. One way of controlling the number of animals harvested is to impose “bag limits”, so that only a certain number of each species can be taken each year. Finally, we must ensure that hunting seasons correspond correctly with the animals’ mating seasons. Females must be allowed to have their young and the young must be allowed to grow. At present, hunting in Tobago goes on year around. There are not enough game wardens to patrol our forests. Hunting laws are not well-written and are largely un-enforced. There is a serious lack of concern among the general public to the over-exploitation of our wildlife. Sea turtles and sea birds and their eggs, although protected by national laws and international treaties, are nonetheless poached. Churches continue to sponsor village harvest festivals where wild meat, including turtle meat, is featured. In the future, if sustainable harvesting of game animals can be achieved and if hunting is controlled, animals that once graced our island could be reintroduced. Our wildlife would become more diverse and Tobago would become more beautiful. 16
  20. 20. FACT SHEET - No. 5 December 1998 Sea Turtles Turtles are among the most ancient of all living reptiles. Their history reaches back more than 200 million years -- before the Dinosaurs! Today we share our planet with many species of turtle, including seven species which spend their entire lives in the ocean. These turtles are known as "sea turtles", and all are classified as Endangered or Threatened with extinction. This is certainly true of sea turtles in the Caribbean Sea, where older fishermen remember the days when there were more (and larger) turtles in the sea than there are now. The most common species in Tobago (at least on the nesting beaches) is the Leatherback turtle, known to scientists as Dermochelys coriacea -- the "skin turtle." At the right time of year, generally between April and July, you may encounter a leatherback turtle. These giant "soft-shelled" turtles can weigh as much as 2000 pounds. Leatherbacks must travel to the Caribbean to nest because they reside in cooler latitudes of the United States, Canada and the eastern Atlantic Ocean. These areas are far too cold to provide adequate nesting conditions. Thus, Caribbean islands, including Tobago, are very important to the survival of these ancient creatures. Sadly, many of the leatherbacks that come to Tobago laden with eggs are killed when they come ashore. When an adult female is killed, thousands of eggs (which would have been laid in future years) are also lost. Green turtles and hawksbill turtles also nest in Tobago and are also hunted. The hawksbill turtle has become very rare. Although the loggerhead turtles once nested in Tobago, in recent years none have been reported. It is because we have killed so many of the adults that sea turtles of all species are Endangered throughout the Caribbean. Each female must lay many thousands of eggs in order for her species to survive. Did you know that only a few hatchlings in 1000 will survive to maturity and lay eggs of their own? When sea turtles are 20-35 years old, depending on the species, they are old enough to breed. Many are killed, especially by man, before they reach this age. Sometimes we do not kill them directly, but still they perish from our activities. For example, turtles breath air and can drown when they become entangled in fishing nets. Also, turtles are very sensitive to light. When the nesting beach is well lit by hotels and other developments, the baby turtles are attracted by these artificial lights and crawl inland. These hatchlings never find the sea and they often die in the morning sun. Finally, turtles can mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and die when their stomachs become packed with plastic. What can we do to protect sea turtles in Tobago? Don't sell or purchase sea turtle products. Selling and purchasing these products encourages the harvest of sea turtles. Nearly all countries of the world, including Trinidad and Tobago, prohibit the import and export of endangered species products. Don't discard plastics and other refuse at sea. Watch for sea turtles at sea, they can be struck and killed by boat propellers and wind surfers. Check fishing nets frequently so that sea turtles are not ensnared and drowned. 17
  21. 21. Don't harass sea turtles at sea or on land. Don't disturb turtles in feeding areas, shine lights on nesting turtles, or ride turtles. Encourage regulations requiring that lights not shine on nesting beaches. Use structural shields or vegetation hedges. Don't drive vehicles or ride horses on potential nesting beaches. These activities crush incubating eggs, and tire ruts trap hatchlings as they crawl to the sea. Don't leave lounge chairs, sailboats, and other obstructions on nesting beaches at night. Don't litter sandy beaches. Discarded cans and bottles are unsightly and can cause injury to nesting turtles. Remember, it is illegal not only to kill, but to pursue or molest any sea turtle (that is, any egg, hatchling or adult) on land at any time. It is also illegal to capture at sea or offer for sale any sea turtle (or turtle product) during the closed season under the Fisheries Act: 1 March - 30 September. Leatherback Facts Leatherbacks are the largest of the sea turtles. Females nesting in the Caribbean typically weigh 300-500 kg (650-1100 lb). The largest leatherback on record is a male that stranded on the coast of Wales in 1988 and weighed 916 kg (2015 lb). The species is easily distinguished from other sea turtles because it lacks a bony shell, having instead a slightly flexible skin-covered "shell." The smooth, black skin is spotted with pale yellow or white. The tapered carapace is raised into seven prominent ridges. Leatherbacks are sustained almost entirely on a diet of jellyfish and related animals. To find their prey, they travel thousands of miles throughout the Atlantic Ocean, preferring to feast on enormous cold water species, such as Cyanea, off the coasts of Canada and northern Europe. Leatherbacks love to eat the deadly Physalia, or Man-O-War jellyfish. Leatherbacks have thick layers of fat to keep them warm, as well as a circulatory system which is unique among reptiles but shared by some marine mammals. In this system, the veins and arteries are bundled together in what scientists call "counter-current circulation", an arrangement which prevents body core heat from being radiated and lost to the surrounding environment. Because of their ability to survive in cold water, leatherbacks have the broadest distribution of any reptile on Earth. They are also the deepest divers! Females nesting in the Caribbean have been tracked using transmitters and satellites and have been recorded diving to depths exceeding 4000 feet. Where are the juveniles? There are no local records of immature leatherbacks, although injured juveniles have been rescued in recent years in the waters of Barbados and Puerto Rico. The paths taken by hatchlings leaving their natal beaches are not known. There are no data on growth rate or age at sexual maturity for wild leatherbacks. Most hard-shelled sea turtles require at least 20 years to reach sexual maturity, and this is likely to be true of leatherbacks, as well. Once mature, females return to the beaches of their birth, laden with eggs, every 2-5 years, on average. Thousands of eggs are laid over the course of a lifetime. The temperature of the sand in which the eggs incubate determines the sex of the hatchlings! Warmer temperatures result in females, whereas cooler temperatures favor males. This is true for all sea turtles, and is the reason why incubation in buckets or styrofoam coolers is not a suitable conservation option. Source: Karen L. Eckert, Ph.D. 1998. Environment Tobago Newsletter (Issue 2.2) (pages 2-4). 18
  22. 22. { EMBED CDraw } FACT SHEET - No. 6 March 1999 Wetlands of Tobago What are Wetlands? As the name suggests, wetlands are land areas that are heavily saturated with water on a permanent or semi- permanent basis. Wetlands are usually found alongside rivers and lakes and in coastal areas. A wetland develops in an area where the level of the land is low, such that water accumulates for most or all of the year. A variety of names have been used to identify wetlands. These include mangrove swamps, estuaries, marshes, river bottomlands, bogs and delta lands. In Tobago the term “swamp” is usually used to designate a wetland area. The Importance of Wetlands. Historically, wetlands were regarded as nuisances by man. Seen as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and producing miasma, wetlands were actually considered to be dangerous to humans. At one time it was believed that the air from swamps would cause disease and death if allowed to enter homes at night. Today, we know better. Wetlands are known to be prolific producers of life. Wetlands rival rain forests in biological productivity. They absorb and store large amounts of carbon thereby preventing it from entering the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and which is the principal agent in global warming. They also release large amounts of oxygen. Wetlands provide feeding, spawning and nursery grounds for many species of fish and shellfish. It is estimated that sixty to seventy percent (60-70%) of our coastal fishes depend upon wetlands. They also serve as habitats for many types of birds. In Trinidad and Tobago, one hundred and fifty seven (157) species of birds are known to depend upon wetlands for their survival. Wetlands also provide more direct benefits to humans. Coastal wetlands protect coastal towns and villages from storm tides. They provide oxygen, lumber and food. Wetlands also function as biological filters to remove harmful pollutants before they reach the sea. The use of wetlands for the tertiary treatment of sewage is now being adopted in many parts of the world. Tourism also benefits from wetlands since these serve as attractions for thousands of birdwatchers annually. Saving Tobago’s Remaining Wetlands. The wetlands of Tobago are disappearing. Over the past three hundred and fifty years, from the start of European colonization to the present, the wetlands of Tobago have declined significantly. Since most of our wetlands are located in coastal areas they have been seen as prime areas for development. Most of lower Scarborough now occupies an area that was once swampland. Other wetland areas in Lowlands, Bon Accord and Roxborough were drained and used to establish coconut or cocoa plantations. Part of Kilgwin swamp was filled in for the expansion of the Crown Point Airport. Those wetlands that have not been totally reclaimed have suffered significantly from the indiscriminate cutting of mangrove, the dumping of garbage, the release of raw sewage, the over harvesting of crabs and other activities that have reduced their biological and economic values. Tobago cannot afford the loss of any more wetlands. At a time when our coastal fisheries are declining, coastal pollution is increasing, ocean levels are rising and we are seeking to boost eco- tourism, our wetlands are needed now, more than they ever were. We now have remaining four major wetlands at PetitTrou, Kilgwin Bon Accord and Buccoo and ten smaller ones at other locations around Tobago. Let us resolve that there should be no further loss of wetlands and that we will do all that is necessary to maintain and restore our remaining wetlands so that we can gain the maximum benefits that they can provide. Environment TOBAGO - Phone: 868-660-7462 - Fax: 868-660-7467 - E-mail: - Internet: Post: PO Box 503, Scarborough, Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies - Office: 2nd Floor, Rollocks Building, Robinson Street, Scarborough 19
  23. 23. { EMBED CDraw } FACT SHEET - No. 7 March 1999 The Tobago Forest Reserve In the mid 18th century there was an English scientist, Stephen Hales, researching the circulation of sap in green trees and the relationship between green plants and the atmosphere. Results of his research displayed the intimate relationship between trees and rainfall. Hales explained this to his close friend, Soame Jenyns, Member of Parliament for Cambridge and one of the Lord’s Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, the organization responsible for settling Tobago after the Peace of Paris in 1763. At this conference the island was ceded to Britain. This era was the height of the sugar trade in Europe. British settlers were arriving in Tobago with land grants from the Crown. They cut down the forest rapidly, replacing it with sugarcane. So successful were they that by the end of that century filthy rich people were said to be “as rich as a Tobago planter”. Jenyns, understanding the ominous reality of Hales’ scientific breakthrough, declared all the area now known as the Main Ridge Reserve as Crown Reserve. It originally totaled approximately 10,000 acres but later another 4,000 acres were added. Jenyns tried to have this protection made law. He suffered strong opposition in Parliament as many of his colleagues were owners of plantations in Tobago and viewed the forest as “timber”. They thought that after harvesting and marketing this valuable resource, they would have more land for planting sugar. Jenyns explained to them that if they continued along that course they would turn Tobago into a desert. Their sugar crop would fail. It took him another eleven years to convince enough of them that he was right. The Governor, Sir William Young, signed the ordinance on the 13th of April, 1776. This, according to Scientific American, left Tobago with the oldest legally protected forest reserve of its kind in the world*. This act itself was marvelous but the words that made it law are incredible. In part it says: Did also in pursuance of your said Instructions remove to Your Majesty a tract of Wood Land lying in the interior and most hilly parts of this island for the purpose of attracting frequent Showers of Rain upon which the Fertility of Lands in these Climates doth entirely depend. William Young Assented to by his Honour the Commander in Chief this Thirteenth day of April One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Six. The forest is mainly Lower Montane Rain Forest. This type of forest is prevalent in the Amazon. In effect our legacy is tiny sample of the Amazon in tiny Tobago. Note - Kings and Emperors throughout history have had forests and parks protected for the purpose of royal hunting and other pleasures. Tobago’s Forest Reserve is unique in the world because it is the first forest legally protected to preserve the watershed. Environment TOBAGO - Phone: 868-660-7462 - Fax: 868-660-7467 - E-mail: - Internet: Post: PO Box 503, Scarborough, Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies - Office: 2nd Floor, Rollocks Building, Robinson Street, Scarborough 20
  24. 24. { EMBED Unknown } CONTENTS 1.What is a rainforest? TROPICAL 2. Where are rainforests found? 3.The history of Tobago’s rainforest RAINFORESTS 4.The structure of a rainforest 5. The structure of Tobago’s rainforest 6.Why are rainforests so important – functions. A GUIDE TO THE RAINFORESTS OF THE WORLD AND TOBAGO’S MAIN RIDGE FOREST RESERVE 7. Functions and services of Tobago’s rainforest 8.Biodiversity- The variety of life { EMBED MSPhotoEd.3 } 9. Biodiversity in Tobago’s rainforest 10.Using Biodiversity- The key to the rainforests survival? 11. Tobago’s medicinal cabinet- secrets waiting to be unlocked 12. Relationships in the rainforest 13. Plant life on the trees 14Nutrient recycling in the rainforest 15. Threats to the rainforest- Deforestation, hunting and climate change 16 Hunting in Tobago’s Rainforest 17. Closing thoughts 18. References 21
  25. 25. WHAT IS A RAINFOREST? WHERE ARE RAINFORESTS FOUND? A rainforest is “a tree covered This booklet gives you an Rainforest are found in 3 main You might ask yourself why area in warmer regions of the introduction to the wonders of areas of the world: South East a small place like Tobago has world where rainfall averages the rainforest and why they Asia, Central Africa and a rainforest when it is not in over 200 cm per year, are so important to our future. Central and South America. any of these regions? Even allowing for year round By focusing on Tobago’s Existing in a narrow band more remarkable is how this growth ” The Green unique forest reserve this North and South of the rainforest is still standing Encyclopedia. complexity begins to unravel. equator and occupying less when all around the world This rather brief, dull Rainforests are not just about than 1% of the earths surface, deforestation is so rampant? description of a rainforest trees and wildlife, they they have the greatest Well this is a story of plate doesn’t do justice to these perform many functions concentration of wildlife of tectonics and of one man who wondrous places. essential to the earth’s and our any ecosystem. had the vision, over 200 years When you think of what a own well being. However, The map below indicates ago, to realise the importance rainforest is what comes to they are still threatened, with where rainforests are naturally of the rainforests to Tobago’s mind? Heat, humidity, noise, repercussions that continue to found but much of this has livelihood. claustrophobia, danger, be disastrous for everyone. been lost, particularly in beauty, rain, biodiversity, Perhaps if the world looked to South East Asia. Huge tracts deforestation, birds, Tobago and its rainforest still exist in Amazonia and snakes…..the list is almost reserve the tide may turn on central Africa but even these endless. This is truly what a their fate. are constantly under threat. rainforest is. { EMBED MSPhotoEd.3 } When is a rain forest not a rain forest? Other forests exist within the tropics that do not receive enough rainfall to be considered true rainforests. There is generally a dry season that limits growth and causes some trees to shed their leaves. These are known as ‘monsoon forests’, ‘seasonal evergreen forests or ‘deciduous seasonal forest’. While they perform many of the functions of the rainforest they do not have the diversity of life. The forested areas outside of the reserve in Tobago are generally seasonal evergreen forests while Little Tobago is a deciduous seasonal forest. 22
  26. 26. as many other MP’s were Hurricane Flora THE HISTORY OF TOBAGO’S plantation owners and viewed In 1963, hurricane flora RAINFOREST the forest as timber. Jenyns swept through Tobago explained to them that if the devastating 75% of the forest. forest was cut down then Many of the birds and animals Tobago would be turned into starved as a result -their food Tobago’s rainforest is unique Protection a desert and their crops would supply had suddenly in the Caribbean for two For millions of years the fail. vanished. But we should not reasons. Firstly, it used to be rainforest here was After 11 years of persuasion, think this was a tragedy, connected to South America undisturbed except for maybe an act was finally passed on hurricanes are natural events and so has much of its flora the odd natural disaster and 13th April, 1776 to protect the that cleanse forests of disease. and fauna. Secondly, it has some small scale hunting by forest for ever. In the last 40 years the been legally protected since the Caribs and Arawaks. In This story is remarkable and it rainforest has begun to grow 1776, making it the oldest the 18th century the British constitutes what many back, so when you visit the protected forest reserve in the arrived. This was the era of consider to be the world’s first reserve what you see is almost western hemisphere. the sugar trade in Europe. environmental act. But it is totally natural. Something Settlers arrived with land also a tragedy, this knowledge very rare indeed for such a grants from the crown and has been known for two small place. Plate Tectonics began to replace the natural centuries but deforestation Plate tectonics, or the still continues apace forest with sugarcane. At the movement of the earths crust, worldwide same time, an English causes continents to move and scientist Stephen Hales, was mountains to form. Between researching the circulation of 225 and 65 million years ago, sap in trees and the Main Ridge Forest reserve is in dark shading land that eventually became relationship between these Trinidad and Tobago, was green plants and the much further west than it is { EMBED MSPhotoEd.3 } atmosphere. Results of his today. This land was research displayed the periodically connected to intimate relationship between mainland South America, trees and rainfall. If you cut through sea levels falling, down trees rainfall will allowing for migration of decrease. plants and animals. Sea levels A friend of Hales, Soame rose and Tobago became an Jenyns, an MP in England, island about 11,000 years ago. understood the enormity of The rainy season should not deter visitors. If it rains, Tobago is believed to have this discovery and tried to get rain usually falls in short sharp bursts, often at night, been connected to Venezuela what is now known as the so the island may be enjoyed all year round. There is a as there are some species that Main Ridge Forest Reserve range of accommodation to suit all tastes. Many hotels exist here and Northern protected in law. Venezuela but not in Trinidad. offer full air conditioning, choice of menu and arranged He suffered strong opposition 23
  27. 27. THE STRUCTURE OF A RAINFOREST LAYERS IN A RAINFOREST Depending on its history and This rainforest structure is location, rainforests typically relatively stable as there is have 4 layers: little light for seedlings to take { INCLUDEPICTURE "C:My The emergent layer where the hold. This is known as a DocumentsGrahamLayers of a giants of the forest occur. climax community. However Rainforest_fileswhlay1.gif" * Trees here can grow in excess as soon as a large tree falls, EMERGENT MERGEFORMATINET } of 50m. LAYER light becomes available on the Giant Trees { INCLUDEPICTURE "C:My The canopy layer this is forest floor. Almost where the majority of trees DocumentsGrahamLayers of a immediately this space is exist as well as most of the filled by herbaceous plants Rainforest_fileswhlay2.gif" * wildlife as this is where and climbers. Through this MERGEFORMATINET } sunlight is most abundant. mess pioneer trees make their { INCLUDEPICTURE "C:My The under story layer where way toward the sunlight. In CANOPY DocumentsGrahamLayers of a tree ferns, palms and slow turn, these trees provide LAYER growing trees predominate Abundant Rainforest_fileswhlay3.gif" * shelter for the canopy or Wildlife MERGEFORMATINET } due to their ability to grow in emergent trees to grow and low levels of light. eventually fill the gap created { INCLUDEPICTURE "C:My The ground layer where non many years ago. DocumentsGrahamLayers of a woody plants and tree Rainforest_fileswhlay4.gif" * seedlings occur. Little light MERGEFORMATINET } penetrates here so growth is UNDERSTORY sparse. LAYER Palms Epiphytes Pioneer Trees: Because competition for light is so intense pioneer trees have to be quick growing to prevent themselves from being smothered by other plants. To achieve this they often have huge leaves and lightweight or hollow trunks, both of which maximize photosynthesis for growth. They also have GROUND slippery trunks and often enlist the help of ants to avoid other LAYER plants hindering them. Pioneer trees provide perfect sheltered Darkness No wind conditions for canopy or emergent trees to grow below them and although they may only last 30-40 years, they play a vital role in the rainforest structure. 24
  28. 28. THE STRUCTURE OF TOBAGO’S RAINFOREST The rainforest on the main You will also find the tree ridge has been classified as fern here, the only living lower montane rainforest. descendent of a family of This occurs above 250m, trees that died out 290 million where there are no emergent years ago. trees because of exposure to The ground layer is not wind. The canopy reaches a typical for a rainforest. as height of approximately 30m. more light has been available Hurricane Flora has had a since the hurricane to allow huge effect on the structure of plants to grow. the forest, leaving most of the When a gap opens up in the trees no older than 40 years. canopy today a typical However, there are pockets of pioneer tree will be the older trees that escaped the Cecropia (bois canot or full force of the storm. trumpet tree.) The most common canopy tree is the rosewood, while a typical understory tree is the palm or mountain cabbage. The effect of Hurricane Flora: Near the entrance to the Gilpin trail, the structure of the rainforest can be easily seen. The slender trees and lush ground vegetation indicate that forest growth is new. The sheer force of the wind combined with the enormous volume of rainfall had a disastrous effect at the time. Forty years later the forest once A common ground The cecropia or bois canot is one of again looks healthy. Fast-forward a couple of hundred years and plant is the coconut the most common pioneer trees in the huge trees will return while the ground vegetation will like Cyclanthaceae. diminish. the reserve. 25
  29. 29. WHY ARE RAINFORESTS SO IMPORTANT? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY ARE CUT DOWN? Rainforests provide us with many vital functions or The principal causes for deforestation are agriculture and services, from climate control to human health. We must logging for timber. Often agriculture will follow after an area remember that these are all provided FREE OF CHARGE. has been logged. The irony is that rainforest soils are very poor After reading the list below consider how much it would for agriculture and areas will quickly be abandoned leading to cost to replace all these services if the forest disappeared. more areas to be deforested. FUNCTION OR SERVICE EFFECT OF DEFORESTATION GLOBAL WARMING: When trees are cut they are often burnt CARBON SINK: Through Photosynthesis the carbon from carbon releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This dioxide in the atmosphere is fixed or “sequestered” into the plants effect is compounded by there being fewer trees to absorb this gas. and trees. This helps to alleviate global warming. LOSS OF WILDLIFE: Habitat destruction is the fundamental cause of BIODIVERSITY: Rainforests account for a large proportion of the species depletion and extinction. The effect of this can be devastating. worlds flora and fauna (as much as 50% according to some Local economies dependent on the forest would be destroyed, unknown scientists) yet much of it is still unrecorded. Locally this diversity species that might be beneficial to medicine will be lost and tourism will can be utilized by harvesting the forest for food, timber, medicines decline and many other useful products. If harvested in a sustainable manner these products could also be traded internationally. LESS RAIN: With fewer trees to create rain the climate will change Rainforest tourism is growing as people come to experience this dramatically. This would not only have repercussions on human life variety of life. with water supply becoming less predictable but the remaining rainforest could be threatened. It is thought that the Amazon rainforest RAINMAKER: Trees create rain through ‘evapotranspiration’. creates over half of its rainfall through evapotranspiration. Could there Water that the tree does not use is transpired through its leaves, be a point in time where there are not enough trees in the Amazon to evaporating in the heat of the sun. This will condense to form sustain the rest of the forest? clouds and eventually fall as rain. FLOOD & DROUGHT: Without trees to break the heavy tropical WATERCATCHMENT: Rainforests act like a sponge allowing rains impact and to absorb most of the rain rivers and stream will excess rainwater to percolate slowly through the soil allowing begin to flood in times of heavy rain and to disappear in dry periods. streams and rivers to run constantly throughout the year. This Again human health is affected. provides dependable, good quality water for millions of people in the tropics. LANDSLIDES & SILTATION: The heavy impact of tropical rain is multiplied many times with no cover. Soils are washed away CONTROL OF SOIL EROSION: The trees in a rainforest break downstream leaving local farming devastated. Downstream the effects the impact of heavy rain with its leaves and roots. A drop of rain of siltation can cause dams to malfunction, flooding and coral reefs to can take as long as 40 minutes to reach the forest floor! die. The roots that bind the soil will disappear leaving hilly areas ALBEDO EFFECT: Surface albedo or the ‘shininess’ of the land vulnerable to landslides. surface is a basic factor in controlling climate. Rainforests have CLIMATE CHANGE: Bare soil reflects more heat into the atmosphere thick, green vegetation which absorbs much of the suns energy and so contributes to the warming of the atmosphere. In turn this has limiting the amount of heat reflected back into the atmosphere and impacts on thermal currents and wind which effect rainfall patterns. so controlling global warming. 26
  30. 30. Tourism Timber: FUNCTIONS AND SERVICES OF Tourism is Tobago’s second agricultural practices. Water The reserve is too small and TOBAGO’S RAINFOREST largest employer and its biggest inaccessible to provide a timber money earner. The rainforest industry in Tobago. If timber plays a key role in attracting were to be extracted it should be visitors to this island with its outside the reserve in conjunction Two hundred years ago agricultural practices. Water beautiful vistas, stunning wildlife with agriculture Tobago’s rainforest was supply has become less and easy access. Many guides protected for its rain creating predictable and more costly in are employed to show visitors this area. Run off has increased these delights. Without it a large properties. Since then the in the wet season and water flow sector of the industry would be many other functions it has decreased in the dry season. lost. provides have been realised Soil in the water, ‘turbidity’, Regular supply of and today, Tobago’s causes pumping stations to clean household rainforest is still considered malfunction and costly chemicals water vital for the islands are used to reduce the effect. { EMBED Protection of coral livlihoood. Water shortages could become reefs MSPhotoEd.3 } Money from Without it the water supply commonplace in the dry season would be disrupted, crops would unless action is taken like re- Leads tourists fail and coral reefs would die. forestation of the hills here. to High biodiversity Once again, remember that this is and rainforest ⇒ products a service provided FREE by the Coral reef protection: forest. To replace or repair By controlling soil erosion and Rain damage caused by deforestation allowing year round clear water A beautiful place would be enormous. to flow into the sea the rainforest to visit protects many of Tobago’s reefs Water Supply: in the east. The beautiful reefs at The rainforest provides rain and Speyside, Englishmans Bay and is the watershed for a large part Castara are all dependent on this of the island. It provides year service. Deforestation would Irregular water round, clean household water for result in increased turbidity and a supply most of the eastern part of the change in the salinity of the sea Coral reefs island. due to flood/drought regimes in threatened A study done on the Courland the rivers. Both could have a Loss of tourist catchment area (which provides disastrous effect on the reefs. In Leads dollar most of the western half of the turn the fishing and tourist to Loss of industries, which are dependent Biodiversity and island but is outside the forest ⇒ forest products reserve) suggests that due to on the reefs, would decline. deforestation and poor Less rain An ugly place you wouldn’t visit 27
  31. 31. BIODIVERSITY- THE VARIETY OF LIFE BIODIVERSITY IN TOBAGO Biodiversity within a Awesome statistics abound. A For such a small island been ‘extirpated’ (become rainforest can be viewed on hectare of rainforest in Brazil Tobago is fortunate to have a locally extinct) it still holds an 2 levels: SPECIES diversity- can contain 500 different very rich flora and fauna. This impressive array of life. the number of different species of tree. On one of is because it was once joined Tobago is less rich than its big species and GENETIC these trees 400 unique species to the South American sister Trinidad but it does diversity - the differences might be found. The value of continent and so has remnants have 15 birds, 4 frogs, 1 snake within a species. this abundance cannot be over of the life from the rainforest and 1 lizard that Trinidad Of all the earth’s ecosystems emphasised both for its there. Although many of the does not have. rainforests are the most aesthetic value and for its uses larger animals have diverse and productive. it can provide for people. It is Although they cover only 6% these products of the forests- of the land surface they the medicines the food and the contain over half the chemicals that is one of the Tobago’s Flora and Fauna estimated 5-10 million plants keys to their survival. and animals. Tobago’s rainforest remains poorly recorded except for birds and larger animals. No comprehensive records exist for insects or smaller animals. The last major survey of trees was in 1943, before Genetic Diversity- The differences that occur within a species are the hurricane and plant records are rare. vital to its long-term survival. These differences allow for adaptation to environmental changes – not every individual or It is difficult to specify the number of birds that live in the population has the genetic make up to survive change. Habitat rainforest on such a small island, as there is a large overlap of destruction decreases the gene pool and so decreases the chances of habitats. Approximately 100 species of bird can be seen of which a species survival. the following live exclusively in the reserve. White tailed sabre-wing hummingbird Golden olive woodpecker Why are rainforests are so biologically rich? Collared trogon Great black hawk Striped breasted spine tail 1. The tropics, where rainforests exist, have escaped the devastating effects of ice ages leaving them to evolve SPECIAL TO TOBAGO OTHER ANIMALS undisturbed for millions of years. 2. Most plants here are pollinated by animals (as there is little Blue backed manekin 21 snakes wind). The relationship between animals and plants can effect Cocrico 5 large mammals the evolution of both creating new species in the process. White tailed sabre-wing 3. Rainforests are perfect breeding grounds for pests, viruses, Red snake or Tobago bacteria and fungus all of which target life. If only a few species false coral were to evolve these would be quickly targeted and die off. 28
  32. 32. USING BIODIVERSITY TOBAGO’S MEDICINAL CABINET The key to the rainforests survival? Secrets waiting to be unlocked Although it is the beauty and All this sounds great but the Tobago’s rainforest is no researched for their chemical bounty of the rainforests that issue is complicated by the different; there are a wealth of compounds. attracts us to them in the first manner in which these plants used locally for This touches on an important place, it maybe the wealth of products are exploited and by medicinal purposes. However issue. Knowledge like this is the forest products derived the political consequences of the rainforest plants are invaluable but unless it is from this diversity that could some discoveries. For poorly documented - much of written down it could become hold the key to their survival. example logging has to be the knowledge has been lost as the culture moves The diversity of life in carried out in a sustainable passed down through toward a more western rainforests means that there manner so not to compromise generations by word of dependency of synthetic are more types of plant to use its regeneration; property mouth. A report does exist medicines. in industry, more types of rights need to be addressed for that lists plants that need to be fruit and crops that can be the countries where rainforest grown for food and more products are found and the Some Tobago rainforest plants recommended for types of plant and animal that political will has to found to research into their chemical makeup can be utilised for their move away from old medicinal purposes. Below technologies when products Common Name Traditional use Known Chemical are just a few examples of are found that render them Compounds what has been discovered in obsolete. Bois Canot, Hypertension, flu Sterols and alkaloids the rainforests. Trumpet and Diarrhea. tree,cecropia Shoots chewed for Industry: . sap of the Amazonian copaiba when poured The (see photo below) snake bite straight into a fuel tank can power a truck. It is almost identical Bay leaf Flu and Pneumonia Oil is expectorant to diesel. Wild coffee Purgative Sennosides/alkaloids Agriculture: The dazzling array of fruits and crops from the Zeb-a-pik Diabetes/ malaria Bitter alkaloid rainforest offer varieties of food, that maybe resistant to pests Bois Bande Aphrodisiac- bark Unknown and diseases that affect modern crops. used in tea Medicine: 70 % of all plants that have been identified as having anti- cancer properties are exclusive to the rainforest. The instantly Only 1%of plants have been examined! recognizable dead The rosy periwinkle found in Madagascar gives a 99% chance of cecropia leaf can be recovery from leukemia boiled and used as a tea for hypertension and diarrhea 29
  33. 33. RELATIONSHIPS IN THE RAINFOREST Trees and fungus: Many trees are dependent on very fine fungal threads that grow amongst Rainforest ecology is ecology can be broken, their roots. These are known as complex. Scientists are yet to leaving the future of the forest mycorrhizas. The fungi even scratch the surface of in doubt. breakdown and absorb vital what happens here. The relationship between nutrients from dead plant matter Relationships occur between organisms is called which tree roots are incapable of plants, between plants and SYMBIOSIS. This can be doing. The roots can then absorb animals and between plants mutually beneficial, benign the nutrients that are released in and fungi. This is what makes or destructive. The this process. the rainforest work. But it also following pages give This is another reason why Roots on their own what makes it vulnerable. By examples of all three. are not enough – they rainforests cannot regenerate interfering in these By showing these well known need the help of after being cut down as the rain processes,particularly through examples the forest ecology fungus to gather quickly washes the fungus away. deforestation, vital links in the can be better understood. nutrients The agouti and the Brazil nut: The bertholletia The cecropia and the tree in the Amazon region { EMBED Word.Picture.8 } ants: As shown earlier produces a nut whose the cecropia is a pioneer protective pod is so tough only tree and needs to grow one animal can crack it, the quickly to establish itself. agouti. By producing more It does this with the help of nuts than an agouti can eat in a species of ant (from the one meal the nuts become azteca family). By living dispersed by the rodent who on the tree these ants keep buries them for a later date. the trunk free from any Ultimately, some nuts are harmful animals or plants. forgotten and are left to grow An agouti breaks open a In return, the ants receive a into another tree. Remove the Azteca ants living Brazil nut pod with its juicy substance from the agouti and the bertholletia tree within the hollow trunk powerful jaws. base of leaf stalk will disappear. of the cecropia tree 30