TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO THE ENVIRONMENT PROGRAM: TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Government of Trinidad and Tobago

June 2016 to September 2018.

During the period from July 2016 to August 2018, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago received support from the European Union (EU) under the “Technical Assistance to the Environment Program in Trinidad and Tobago”. The environment program aimed to address the challenges of pursuing a low-carbon climate resilient development path and to contribute to the achievement of the Government of Trinidad & Tobago’s goals to improve the management of natural resources in the country. As part of the larger Environment Program, technical assistance was provided to support the Ministry of Planning and Development (MPD) in undertaking climate change vulnerability and risk assessments that were developed and presented in a geo-spatial format to: 


(a) provide a comprehensive picture of the impacts of climate change, climate variability and projected climate change impacts; and 


(b) facilitate decision-making on climate change risk management by key agencies. 


It was the Ministry’s expectation that the outputs from the EU project would be used to inform the review of the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP), the development of the Third National Communications to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and assist in addressing Trinidad’s and Tobago’s commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the project facilitated and built local capacity to survey and map the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve (MRFR) which is one of the country’s principal carbon sinks in order to support national efforts aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions as defined in the National Climate Change Policy. A key guiding principle of the Technical Assistance was to facilitate capacity building and the transfer of knowledge concerning climate change vulnerability and risk assessments. 


Under Component 1, working in collaboration with a National Technical Advisory Committee and eight Technical Working Groups (TWGs), the team of experts led by the Team Leader from de Romilly & de Romilly Limited retained under the European Union Technical Assistance led the development of comprehensive climate change vulnerability and capacity assessments (VCAs) and prepared reports defining risks from climate change to key sectors. These reports were peer reviewed through a broad-based national consultative process, and subsequently summarised in “VCA Briefs” for broader public dissemination.


 A comprehensive climate change risk and institutional capacity assessment was undertaken, by the Team Leader from de Romilly & de Romilly Limited, leading to the development, through broad-based consultative process, of the Strategic Framework for Climate Change Risk Management for Trinidad and Tobago. A key outcome of the National Consultative Workshop convened under the Technical Assistance was agreement by stakeholders on priority policy interventions, as outlined in the Strategic Framework and Program for Climate Change Risk Management, and the development of an indicative budget and financing program to implement this Strategic Framework. The Ministry of Finance actively participated in this risk assessment process, and has initiated the process to integrate key elements of the Strategic Framework and Program for Climate Change Risk Management into the national budget process. 


With the completion of the national/sector vulnerability and risk assessments in late 2017, planning and preparations commenced in early 2018 for training on community climate change vulnerability, risk and capacity assessments, which was an agreed additional activity to be undertaken under the Technical Assistance Program. The community climate change vulnerability, risk and capacity assessment training led by the Team Leader from de Romilly & de Romilly Limited, was convened in late July and early August 2018 with 65 persons representing 30 different government and civil society organisations participating in the training program. The training and community climate change vulnerability, risk and capacity assessments were undertaken in both Trinidad and Tobago. Evaluation forms completed by participants at the completion of the training recorded a high level of satisfaction with the training program. The outcomes of the training exercise and can be summarised as follows:


 (a) the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) has an improved database of information concerning climate change vulnerability and risk in the three target communities where the training was undertaken, and the foundation of a geo-referenced database on individual household risk and capacity to manage such risks; 

(b) all participating government agencies recognise the value of community vulnerability, risk and capacity assessment as an important and previously overlooked element of managing risks from climate change in Trinidad and Tobago; 

(c) there is recognition by MoPD and the other government agencies that participated in the training exercise that the process needs to be scaled up and replicated so that a comprehensive community vulnerability map and risk manage plan can be developed for all of Trinidad and Tobago. 


A key output from the Technical Assistance was a manual that outlines the process and methodology for undertaking community climate change vulnerability, risk and capacity assessments that can be used to replicate such assessments in other vulnerable communities using persons that have been trained under the project. In wrap up discussions at the completion of the training program, representatives from MPD, and the Directors of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) and the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) expressed their commitment to replicating and scaling up community climate change vulnerability/risk mapping and capacity assessments to cover other vulnerable communities in Trinidad and Tobago. 


The second component of the Technical Assistance project concentrated on the boundary survey of the Main Ridge Forest Reserve (MRFR) in Tobago which is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, which falls under the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). Attempts to establish an effective management framework for the Main Ridge Forest Reserve have been constrained by: (a) the absence of a survey map accessible to the THA showing the boundaries of the reserve; (b) the lack of any knowledge within the THA concerning the exact location of the boundaries for the Reserve; and (c) the limited capacity within THA staff to map and survey the boundary and key features of the Reserve. Support provided under the Technical Assistance (TA) was designed to address these limitations. At the end of this project is was intended that officers of the THA forestry division should be able to pinpoint their location on GIS and using a GPS, and be able to go to specified boundary markers as shown on the 1921 survey plan. The project should also build the capacity to display the information / and areas, spatially, and develop a working knowledge of GIS, and the ARC GIS platform. The forestry division should be able to understand the ways in which data needs to be collected, standardised. 


A copy of the original survey of the MRFR boundary undertaken in 1921 was located during the Inception Mission, and it was therefore determined that Component 2 would focus on a Boundary Survey and the location of the “pillars” or boundary markers that were placed during the original survey. Several attempts were undertaken in 2017 to locate the original boundary markers from the 1921 survey of the Main Ridge Forest Reserve so that the 1921 survey plan could be located “on the ground”. Due to the dense vegetation and steep terrain, this process was extremely difficult and time consuming. 


In May 2017, the project team of experts, led by by the Team Leader from de Romilly & de Romilly Limited, developed and facilitated the survey training program, which was convened with support from MoPD. A training manual on surveying, using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and Geographic Information System (GIS) software was developed for participants. The training program, which included training on the use of GPS and GIS was conducted over a three day period, and was attended by 14 THA forestry officers. Evaluation forms completed by participants recorded a high level of satisfaction with the training program. 


Many attempts were undertaken in 2017 and early 2018 to locate the original boundary markers from the 1921 survey of the Main Ridge Forest Reserve so that the 1921 survey plan could be located “on the ground”. Efforts were focused on locating the markers that were known to THA Foresters, hunters or tour guides. However, these efforts only served only to locate markers that were not the original 1921 survey markers, a different approach was initiated at the end of the first quarter of 2018. 


Subsequently, a detailed search was initiated in early 2018 to identify plans of cadastral parcels or private lands touching the MRFR, as well as any deeds, grants, certificates of title, exclusions, and any other relevant information relating to the identity of the owners of these private lands. The Department of Lands and Surveys provided copies of surveys of private lands at corner points of the MRFR boundary with the names shown of the land owner. 


In April 2018 the technical team working with THA forestry officers led by the Team Leader from de Romilly & de Romilly Limited managed to locate three of the original boundary markers shown on the 1921 survey plan using the old survey plans of private lands bordering the MRFR. These markers located are on the north, south and eastern borders of the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, and are concrete “pillars” clearly marked with “CL” (Crown Land) and the corresponding number as shown on the 1921 survey. 


Key outcomes for this component include: 


(a) the original 1921 survey for the MRFR has been located, copied and provided to THA in printed and electronic formats; 


(b) boundary markers from the 1921 survey for the Main Ridge Forest Reserve in Tobago have been located and marked on the east, north and south sides of the MRFR, which has been accomplished with continued engagement, training and capacity building of Forest Officers from the Department of Forests of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA); 


(c) the physical description and markings on the boundary pillars has been confirmed. 


Using the markers located during the project, it has been possible to plot the coordinates for the remaining boundary markers that will enable THA Forestry Department to locate "on the ground" the remaining markers from the 1921 survey plan. THA Forestry Department now have the capacity, tools and resources needed to progressively survey, locate, map and mark “on the ground” all the remaining 1921 boundary pillars for the MRFR boundary.

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