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Tobago: research-based marine tourism centre

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Small efforts in coral reef research and management taking place in Tobago give Shivonne M. Peters hope. Is it possible to combine conservation and research-based tourism for Tobago, she asks. Peters is Managing Director of Seven Environmental- a consultancy company for the marine sector – and a PhD candidate at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Contact her at sevenenvironmental@hotmail.com
Coral reefs in Tobago cover an area of about thirty square kilometres, and are found on both the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean coasts. In fact, several dive sites in the Columbus Passage (Flying and Cove Reefs, Diver’s Thirst and Diver’s Dream) are rated as some of the best drift dive sites in the Caribbean. While importance to the ecosystem services they provide - shoreline protection, fish nurseries and erosion regulation - cannot be understated, the significance to research-based tourism industry is a compelling developing sector.
This habitat for organisms from megafauna (sharks and ray…

PICKING SENSE OUT OF NONSENSE

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Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, wonders about the wisdom of destroying a protected marine ecosystem, the only one in Trinidad and Tobago, with a strategy to recreate it sometime in the future. She responds to the press conference of the Minister Stuart Young, and representatives of Sandals, the Government’s business partner, which was held on November 26. 
“Nature refers to all the animals, plants, rocks, in the world and all the features, forces and processes that happen and exist independently of people, such as the weather, the sea, mountains, the production of young animals or plants, and growth” (Cambridge Dictionary).
There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of nature. Despite humankind’s infiltration into nearly every ecosystem and eco-space on earth, there is need to preserve as much of the natural world. Our air, our climate, our food and everything needed to advance us, comes from nature. With nature comes biodiversity; the number of organisms - plants, anim…

OUR ONCE AND FUTURE ISLANDS

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Imagine! Our emerald isles, green and serene. Tobago – unspoilt, undiscovered, untouched - remains the beacon of what our two islands can become again. So what lies beyond Petrotrin, beyond the stink of oil and gas? What is on the blue horizon for Tobago and Trinidad? Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, explores the way to our future with information taken from the IPCC assessment report 5.
It is clear, according to the last report from the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), we need to make changes as quickly as possible. As our lifestyles continue to advance, our energy consumption is expected to more than double from 2010 in 2050 unless we drastically reduce greenhouse gas emission. Climate change has already resulted in scorched landscapes.  Island nations are drowning, adding climate refugees to the caravans. Coral reefs are decimated worldwide. We cannot imagine what life would be like in 2050 if we continue business as usual. Fortunately, scientists have risen to…

Living in the Heart of Tobago

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The heart of Tobago is its biodiversity in forest such as the Main Ridge Reserve; and offshore coral reefs; and very deep Atlantic zones. Sustaining biodiversity by preserving natural habitat is one of the mandates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its latest report. In the recent decades, Tobago tourism has moved to accommodations that live lightly on the earth. Travel with Faraaz Abdool, birding enthusiast and eco-tour guide, to his favourite place on the island. Learn more about how this resort has integrated itself with the rainforest at https://www.cuffie-river.com
First published in Newsday Tobago, November 22, 2018

Look for the diamond-shaped sign painted forest green along the winding Northside Road past Moriah. Turn off the main road and follow the signs to Cuffie River Nature Retreat. The transformation begins. Gradually, the sound of other vehicles gives way to that of wind rustling through leaves, huge groves of bamboo creaking and groaning. As you …

BUCCOO IN THE TIME OF CLIMATE CHANGE

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How will climate change impact Trinidad and Tobago? What will sea level rise mean for settlements on coastal fringes, including Trinidad’s Port of Spain and Tobago’s bayside communities? Dr Anjani Ganase, marine scientist, spells out predictions of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report 1.5, and makes an urgent call to action.  
Since the beginning of the industrial era (1880-1900), just over a hundred years ago, humans have put enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to raise the global temperature by nearly one degree Celsius. This is rapid accelerated warming; before that, historical changes in the planet’s temperature occurred over several hundred-thousands of years. Even then it was associated with mass extinction events. Today, the global community is treading a dangerous path, almost past the point of no return. Our future will be hotter and more extreme; temperatures will continue to rise because of what we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere. …

VIEW FROM THE SEA: ENGLISHMAN’S BAY

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It’s always useful to try a different perspective, especially on places we have become accustomed to. Faraaz Abdool, birding enthusiast and guide to wild Tobago, approaches Englishman’s Bay from the sea; and feels like he’s discovered a new world, coming ashore for the first time.

Englishman’s Bay has been earmarked as a marine protected area for its coral reefs and idyllic habitat for nesting sea turtles. A quick stroll along the beach will clue even the most casual observer into why turtles love to nest here – loose, large-grained sand helps make the mountainous task of nest excavation a little easier for these ancient oceanic reptiles. Divers and snorkelers frequent this bay for its extensive marine life that is present all year round. Many tourists take the hour-long drive from the bustling south-west of the island to suddenly veer off the main road into a heavily forested – albeit short – section of unpaved road that opens up to a rugged car park that is a slight rise above the w…

NO SANDALS ON OUR REEF AND WETLAND

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There are many reasons to be cautious and reconsider the proposed Sandals resort on the “Golden Grove estate,” in fact in any part of Tobago. Leaving aside the obvious top reasons – this kind of accommodation is passé for the nimble experience-driven younger traveller; a 1000-room hotel is at odds with the new brand direction for Tobago as a destination (unspoilt, untouched, undiscovered); and in the time it takes to build we will lose the “unspoilt” – we need to forego this construction project in favour of retaining the habitats that best protect (Southwest) Tobago against climate change. Marine Scientist Dr Anjani Ganase raises an objection on behalf of Tobago.
In the face of climate change – which it seems people with temporary tenures like Trump do not need to believe in – we must retain the mangrove ecosystem surrounding Bon Accord Lagoon, to safeguard the structure of the coastline and the marine environment including Buccoo Reef. Otherwise all of Southwest Tobago and the commu…