Monday 30 November, 2020

Ministry approves system plan for 136 Protected Areas

File photo.

File photo.

The Ministry of Planning and Development said it has received approvals for a new National Protected Areas System Plan which would protect almost 20,000 square kilometres of terrestrial, freshwater and marine areas throughout the country.

In a statement issued on World Environment Day (June 5, 2020), the Ministry said the new System Plan covers terrestrial areas and marine and freshwater ecosystems and includes the establishment of 136 Protected Areas.

"We are pleased to note, at the national level, some of the critical strides undertaken to strengthen the protection of the natural environment of Trinidad and Tobago."

"The most notable is the approval of a new National Protected Areas System Plan. This Plan is an update of the 1982 National Parks System Plan. The new System Plan places an emphasis not only on important terrestrial areas, but includes marine and freshwater ecosystems."

The protected areas are as follows:

  • 92 terrestrial/freshwater areas (79 in Trinidad and 13 in Tobago)
  • 40 coastal/marine areas (18 in Trinidad, 22 in Tobago) and
  • 4 deep-sea marine areas

Proposed protected terrestrial/freshwater areas: 1,933 square kilometres (1,866 square kilometres in Trinidad, 67 square kilometres in Tobago)

Proposed coastal and marine protected areas: 580 square kilometres (14 square kilometres in Trinidad and 566 square kilometres in Tobago)

Proposed open-ocean waters and deep-sea marine areas: 15,600 square kilometres

Total area of proposed protected areas: 18,113 square kilometres

The Ministry said this is just the beginning: "This initiative is certainly a large step in the right direction, but in reality the journey has only just begun. Occasions such as World Environment Day present us with an excellent opportunity to educate, to reason together and to explore the options and the practical solutions available to change the way we live in harmony with our natural environment."

The Ministry said under the current COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of environmental conservation is ever-present.

"This year is particularly significant as we also celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) which was established in 1995.

"The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted like never before, the concept of the interconnectedness of the various elements of the environment and our dependence on the environment for our very existence. It is paramount that we take heed of the dire warnings that nature is giving us, urging us to recognize that we must all urgently come together to protect and conserve our environment."

"This year, World Environment Day celebrates nature, bringing to bear the importance of the biodiversity of our environment. Biodiversity refers to the rich variety of life on Earth. It is short for biological diversity, and is the term used for the variety of animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and other life forms within any ecosystem. The biodiversity of ecosystems creates a complex web of interactions that maintain the whole."

"Reducing biodiversity plucks threads from the web and threatens to unravel the entire system that sustains us. Biodiversity is very important to the well-being of the planet. It provides food; makes oxygen; cleans the water; controls diseases; and provides medicines among many others functions."

"Without a doubt, the changes we desire to see for our planet begin not only with actions of the Government, but with the response of each individual and the decisions we all make about how we would treat with our natural environment – choices to practice good agricultural methods, stop illegal hunting, stop deforestation, properly dispose of garbage, not to dump wastes in watercourses, to conserve water, maintain our cars and limit pollutants, to carpool, to become watchdogs at our businesses to encourage good environment practice, to conserve energy, and to become innovators of alternative environmentally friendly technologies."

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