World Wildlife day was proclaimed during the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 and is celebrated every year on the 3rd of March. The day is intended to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild flora and fauna. The theme chosen this year is “The future of wildlife is in our hands”. Though the United Nations’ main focus is on African and Asian elephants, they have encouraged countries to highlight their various species of flora and fauna. Here in Trinidad and Tobago there are numerous Environmental Conservationists groups that practice this theme in their everyday operations. Some of these groups include Papa Bois Conservation Trinidad and Tobago, Turtle Village Trust, Manatee Conservation Trust and Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club.
Taking their name from the Papa Bois folklore, the Papa Bois Conservation was founded in 2012. Though based in Trinidad and Tobago, their mission is environmental advocacy, education and the defence of Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. Believing that nearly all environmental problems in the Caribbean are regional problems, they state that Caribbean countries are short on resources but long on environmental challenges. As such, representatives from all Caribbean countries are welcomed in this group. Some of the environmental projects identified and undertaken by the Papa Bois Conservation include a Lionfish education and eradication project, a turtle protection project and UNESCO World Heritage Site designation for Trinidad and Tobago’s turtle nesting beaches.
Formed in 2006 to increase ecotourism in Trinidad and Tobago, the Turtle Village Trust was initially a collaboration between five (5) community groups (Nature Seekers, Fishing Pond Turtle Conservation Group, Grande Riviere Nature Tour Guide Association SOS Tobago and the M2M Network) and BHP Billiton Trinidad and Tobago. Coming together to tackle challenges in the conservation of sea turtles such as access to funding and standardizing and nationalizing conservation protocols, these community groups approached BHP Billiton Trinidad and Tobago to support their endeavours. It was through this that the Turtle Village Trust was born. Sea turtles that were once abundant in tropical and sub-tropical waters are now declining drastically due to loss of habitat and commercial exploitation. The Turtle Village Trust is committed to fostering partnerships between community groups, corporate entities and government in a bid to establish Trinidad and Tobago as the premiere turtle watching destination.
“Conservation, Education and Preservation of Nariva and its environs through the provision of resources, technical services and capacity building in collaboration with local communities” is the mission statement of Manatee Conservation Trust. This group got its start as a project of the Rotary Club of San Juan under the “Protect Planet Earth” programme of 1990-1991 launched by Rotary International. For the Manatee Conservation Trust, focus was on the manatee population and public awareness but as time progressed it grew to incorporate the conservation, protection and rehabilitation of the flora and fauna of Nariva Swamp and the adjacent environmentally sensitive areas. This group has been the recipient of the Humming Bird Silver Medal and played a crucial role in saving 14 short-finned pilot whales that were stranded in 1999 on the Manzanilla Beach.
The Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club (one of the oldest existing clubs in Trinidad and Tobago) is a non-profit organization that aims to bring together people that are interested in the study of natural history, the circulation of that knowledge and the conservation of nature and natural resources. Geared towards promoting the environment their mission is to “Foster education and knowledge on natural history and to encourage and promote activities that would lead to the appreciation, preservation and conservation of our natural heritage.” A very interactive group, the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club publishes a quarterly bulletin to report on their ongoing activities as well as articles on various environmental topics.
Though these groups have specific focuses they all invite any change from the legislative level that would help their cause. Of particular interest is the Forest Act which was created to manage and protect forests in the country. Throughout the years, this act has been amended numerous times with the most recent amendment taking place in 2013 as protecting the country’s natural environment has become increasingly important in the face of several factors destroying and degrading the natural ecosystems.
Housed at the National Archives of Trinidad and Tobago are several documents that can be used to research the environment in Trinidad and Tobago. These documents include Reference books, Rare books, copies of the Field Naturalists’ Journals and the Living World Journals, Ordinances and Council Papers.
“Wildlife, Fauna, Flora, Endangered Species, Biological Diversity, Environment, Ecology, Sustainable Development, CITES,.” UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 29th February, 2016.
“Papa Bois Conservation – Trinidad & Tobago | Share. Be Aware. Care. Your Environment Needs You.” Papa Bois Conservation Trinidad Tobago. N.p., n.d. Web. 29th February, 2016.
“Turtle Village Trust – Trinidad & Tobago.” Turtle Village Trust – Trinidad & Tobago. N.p., n.d. Web. 29th February, 2016.
“Manatee Conservation Trust.” Manatee Conservation Trust. N.p., n.d. Web. 29th February, 2016.
“ABOUT THE CLUB – The Trinidad & Tobago Field Naturalists’ Club.” The Trinidad Tobago Field Naturalists Club. N.p., n.d. Web. 29th February, 2016.