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Trinidad & Tobago

Location of the Project
Location of the Project

Title of IWEco National sub-Project

Reduce and reverse land degradation at selected Quarry site(s) in the North East of Trinidad using an integrated water, land and ecosystems management approach.


The Aripo Savannas, located in North Eastern Trinidad, is designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) and Strict Nature Reserve under Trinidad & Tobago’s Environmental Management Act (2000). It includes unique habitats, rare and endemic biodiversity and is of great scientific importance. The Savannas provide important ecosystem services - water resources for both aquifer recharge and direct extraction, high quality sand and gravel deposits for construction, and livelihoods for many associated in the quarrying industry.

Trinidad Tobago

Quarrying in this part of Trinidad started in the 1940s to meet national demand for aggregate materials by the building and road construction industries. Poor regulation over the years has led to indiscriminate quarrying, resulting in severe land degradation as existing vegetation and top soil is cleared leading to loss of habitat, wildlife and plants. Watercourses are polluted by large quantities of sediment from erosion and from wash plants, and this eventually is transported to the sea, affecting coastal water quality badly.

Given the sensitivity of the ecosystems within the North East area, focussing attention on the restoration and rehabilitation of the degraded quarry areas was deemed to be of high priority by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago and is the focus of their IWEco National sub-Project.

The overall objective of this sub-project is a reduction in risk posed by land degradation at selected quarry sites in the northeast of Trinidad through the employment of an integrated water, land and ecosystems management approach.

The major two outcomes of this project will be: 1) To reduce the scarring of the landscape through the implementation of appropriate rehabilitation techniques and 2) To reduce the impact on the natural and socio-economic environment through the application and adherence to international best practice for quarry operators and improved adherence to local legislation.

Status of Project

The Project was launched in May 2018 with a 48-month timeline. National Quarries Company Limited (NQCL), the state owned and operated quarry, located in Guaico, was chosen as the pilot training and rehabilitation site. It consists of three areas:

  • Site 1 - 0.68 hectare area focused on planting of tree species for food production, creation of wildlife habitat and regeneration of original forest species;
  • Site 2 - 4.65 hectare area of a back-filled exhausted quarry pit devoid of soil nutrients with severe gullying and erosion occurring. For this site the pilot interventions underway are: soil nutrification through the creation of mulch using waste beer hops; tree and grass cuttings and sargassum which would otherwise go to a landfill; planting of vetiver grass to address soil erosion; creation of living check dams to stem gullying and water run off, and; creation of a plant nursery which would serve as a source of plants for other areas to be rehabilitated under the project.
  • Site 3 -1.72 hectares of compacted, backfilled, exhausted quarry pit where forest species enrichment is being tested to determine the best species for rehabilitation of quarries.

The National Project Steering Committee (NPSC) held its first meeting in August 2018. It is made up of representatives of various ministries and agencies responsible for overseeing and managing sustainable quarrying in Trinidad and Tobago. These include: the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries; the Ministry of Planning and Development- Town and Country Division and Environmental Division; the Ministry of Agriculture Land and Fisheries- Forestry Division and Commission of State Lands; the Water Resources Agency and the Project’s national executing agency, the EMA.

In September 2018, two non-governmental organizations, the Trust for Sustainable Livelihoods (SUSTRUST) and IAMovement (IAM), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme - Small Grants Programme, began developing a quarry rehabilitation training programme as part of the project’s livelihoods programme. Between September and December, twenty-seven persons from surrounding communities underwent a 4-month programme of classroom and field work at the pilot sites. These “Quarry Rehabilitation Champions” were trained in areas such as site preparation and planting, creation of check dams and fire tracing, nursery development, top-soil conservation and management, mulching and implementing vetiver as a rehabilitation intervention. This component aims to develop community capability thereby enabling replication at other, additional sites to be identified under the national sub-project.

In November 2019, Carib Glassworks, a privately managed sand quarry in the lower Matura area, partnered with IWEco.TT to rehabilitate a 2-hectare demonstration site using techniques such as live check dams, the planting of mixed forest species and vetiver grass for soil and slope stabilization.  They are committed to matching an additional 1 hectare on site in 2021, using the techniques so far applied.

Highlights of activities to end-2021:

  • A total of 16 hectares has been rehabilitated to date using various nature-based rehabilitation techniques.
  • Small agro-forestry initiatives have been undertaken by the Quarry rehabilitation Champions at the Taungya experimental site at National Quarries to determine most resilient, low maintenance, highest yielding crops to plant under the full Taungya system. This activity has generated some income for the Champions.  In addition, a 3-hectare Taungya site has been planted with approximately 500 dasheen, cassava and sorrel suckers.
  • Ongoing academic research studies have been undertaken on project demonstration sites: 1) The ability of vetiver grass to promote tree growth on degraded quarry lands; 2) The ability of waste material (organic mulch) to rehabilitate top soil at degraded quarry lands; 3) The ability of vetiver grass to regenerate topsoil and subsurface soil; 4) A quantitative assessment of the carbon sequestration capabilities of vetiver grass and organic mulch.
  • Under IWEco Component 3: Review and Strengthening of Policy, Legislative and Institutional Capacity to Support Sustainable Land, Water Resources and Ecosystems Management, a national stakeholder focus group was held to identify existing gaps at regional and national level, define recommendations and select three projects with detailed Terms of Reference for future funding, procurement and implementation.
  • Audio interviews were recorded with the Government Information Service for IWEcoTT’s commemoration of World Water Day and World Forest Day in 2021.
  • The “Regeneration” project video completed and aired on national television and various fora.
  • A 30-minute podcast was recorded with UNEP highlighting the mobilization of the Quarry Rehabilitation Champions, and the collaboration between the various local project partners. 
  • Two 2-day, in-person workshops on nature-based livelihoods for the Quarry Rehabilitation Champions were held in partnership with CANARI in November 2021 as part of the national project sustainable livelihoods initiative. In addition, four mentorship sessions have been arranged post-workshops on topics such as registering an NGO; developing a management structure and defining roles and responsibilities in an NGO; marketing strategies; and product pricing.
  • The Quarry Rehabilitation Guidelines have been finalized and are scheduled for publication and distribution by March 2022.
  • The Quarry Rehabilitation Training Manual and Curriculum is scheduled for publication and distribution by April 2022.
  • IWEcoTT provided $50,000 USD to the Environmental Research Institute of Charlotteville (ERIC) to support the development of components of a management plan that align with IWEco goals and objectives for the North-East Tobago UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The final management plan is expected by June 30th 2022.
  • IWEcoTT, through the EMA, supported national efforts led by the Commissioner of State Lands and the Multi-Agency Task Force of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to provide twenty-two “No Trespassing” signs as a deterrent to illegal quarrying. These signs have been erected throughout Northeast Trinidad in areas where illegal quarrying is prevalent.

Project Objectives and Impact

Project Objectives and Impact

Trinidad & Tobago National sub-Project Background

Please click here to download the Trinidad & Tobago National sub-Project Background document.

Progress and updates on Trinidad &Tobago’s National sub-Project

National Focal Point

Hayden Romano
Managing Director
Environmental Management Authority

National Project Coordinator

Alicia Aquing
Environmental Management Authority

Snapshots of Biodiversity in Trinidad and Tobago:Trinidad & Tobago Snapshots of Biodiversity poster

Poster Introduction and Featured Species

Download the poster

Due to its small size and location, as well as its proximity to the South American continent, Trinidad & Tobago has a high species diversity to surface area ratio. The range of terrestrial ecosystems include evergreen seasonal, semi-evergreen seasonal, deciduous seasonal, dry evergreen, seasonal montane forests, montane rainforests, swamp forests (including mangrove woodlands and secondary forests.

These support approximately 3638 species of plants, 53 of which are endemic; 433 species of birds, two (2) of which are endemic; 100 mammals (including 67 bat species), two (2) of which are endemic; 1139 species of fish (66 stream, 60 coastal and 1013 marine), seven (7) of which are endemic (three [3] freshwater and four [4] marine); 38 species of amphibians, seven (7) of which are endemic; 98 species of reptiles including marine turtles, four (4) of which are endemic, 523 species of marine invertebrates, one (1) of which is endemic; 56 species of molluscs, one (1) of which is endemic; 271 marine worms (201 ringed/segmented worms 70 roundworms), one (1) of which is endemic; 55 echinoderms (invertebrate marine animals characterized by a hard, spiny covering or skin); 56 sponges (marine animals); 4716 terrestrial arthropoda (invertebrate animals), 11 of which are endemic and 41 species of corals.

The IWEco Trinidad & Tobago national sub-project site is located in the North East area of Trinidad, close to the Aripo Savannas Strict Nature Reserve, a designated Environmentally Sensitive Area. It includes unique habitats (e.g. the largest remaining natural savanna ecosystem) as well as rare and endemic biodiversity (e.g. moriche palm, sundew, red-bellied macaw).

1. White-tailed Sabrewing Hummingbird

Scientific name: Campylopterus ensipennis

Photo credit: Stephen Broadbridge

Location: Tobago

Brief description: The White-tailed Sabrewing Hummingbird has a bright green colour with a dark blue throat, black curved beak and white mustachiod streaks. The three (3) outer pairs of tail feathers are mainly white and the shafts of the outer flight feathers are thickened and flattened, a feature for which the species is named “sabrewing”. The White-tailed Sabrewing is approximately 12 cm long and weighs 10 g. The male is slightly larger and more brilliant than the female.

In Tobago, the White-tailed Sabrewing is the largest hummingbird and is found mainly in the Main Ridge Reserve. It feeds mainly on small insects and nectar from forest trees and bushes including bromeliads. Breeding occurs from February to April each year, with nests constructed of mosses on branches several feet above the ground.

The species is designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS) under the Environmental Management Act, Chapter 35:05.

2. Golden Tree Frog

Scientific name: Phytotriades auratus

Photo credit: Lena Dempewolf

Location: Trinidad

Brief description: The Golden Tree Frog is a small to medium-sized frog of approximately 35mm and has a chocolate brown dorsum (back) with two (2) golden-yellow stripes from its snout to its rear/vent. Its limbs are cream but transparent and the pupils of the eye are black and are surrounded by gold rings. The body and head of this species are compressed to allow it to squeeze through small spaces such as between the tightly packed leaves of the giant bromeliad (Glomeropitcairnia erectiflora). These frogs have serrated teeth and fangs on their jaws. They may lay single eggs or a small clutch of eggs on the leaves of bromeliads. The giant bromeliad is the frog’s main known habitat, restricting the range of the frog to the highest elevations in Trinidad: El Cerro del Aripo, El Tucuche, and (most likely) Morne Bleu Ridge.

The species is designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS) under the Environmental Management Act, Chapter 35:05.

3. Trinidad Howler Monkey

Scientific name: Alouatta seniculus insulanus

Photo credit: Stephen Broadbridge

Location: Trinidad

Brief description: The Trinidad Howler Monkey is a medium-sized primate whose coat colour is generally uniform throughout and its limbs being only slightly darker than the body.  The head and whiskers of the species are maroon, appearing darkest on the chin and throat. The upper portion of the body is red and, in certain lights, appears to have a golden tint. The most characteristic feature of howler monkeys is their enlarged hyoid, which enables their loud, resonating vocalisations (howls), making them the loudest terrestrial vertebrate in the Western Hemisphere.  Males have bigger, muscular heads and bigger hyoid bones than females.

As at February 2022, the species is in the process of being designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS) under the Environmental Management Act, Chapter 35:05.

4. Green Iguana

Scientific name: Iguana iguana

Photo credit: Stephen Broadbridge

Location: Trinidad and Tobago

Brief description: The Green Iguana is the largest lizard in Trinidad and Tobago. They are primarily herbivorous and are common throughout the country, present in both forests and urban areas (in or near trees). They possess circular plates below their ears, large scales which form crests on the neck and back, dewlaps, and long, banded tails. Males have longer spines and larger heads than females. Iguanas mainly communicate using their dewlaps, which are green with spots of black. They are diurnal, solitary and ectothermic (body temperature regulation depends on external sources e.g. sunlight, heated surface, etc.) animals. Despite their name, their colour actually varies throughout their life: they become more uniform in colour with age and young iguanas may be a blotchy green/brown colour.

5. Ocelot

Scientific name: Leopardus pardalis

Photo credit: Quentin Questel

Location: Trinidad

Brief description: The Ocelot is the largest terrestrial mammalian predator in Trinidad, which makes it ecologically unique, since they usually co-exist with larger predators like jaguars and pumas and are not found on any other Caribbean islands. Ocelots are medium-sized felines which weigh up to 15 kg (35 lb). They occupy a variety of habitats such as tropical and sub-tropical forests, swampy savannas, mangroves and rocky terrain. Their coats usually have markings, including dark streaks, spots, or rosettes, the pattern of which is unique to each ocelot. They are nocturnal, territorial, and solitary animals, with males and females usually only coming together to mate. They use smell to communicate, marking their territory using the scent associated with urine, and also use vocalisations to attract and communicate with potential mates.

The species is designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Species (ESS) under the Environmental Management Act, Chapter 35:05.

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