Trinadad and Tobago - Living with nature

AROUND TT, there are Caribbean and Atlantic coasts. Our islands’ location along the edge of the South American shelf also provides exceptionally rich and diverse flora and fauna. Within the boundaries of our relatively small islands, the landscapes support wetlands, rainforests, savannahs, rivers and over 500 km of coasts. Our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends over an area which is 15 times the combined land mass (approximately 5000 km2 of land).

The ocean biome extends from sandy and rocky shores to coral reefs, offshore islands, sandy seafloor, the open ocean and mysterious unknown deep-sea habitats. Yet, none of these ecosystems would exist without the others. Our wetlands rely on our forests and rivers to collect rainfall and deliver a supply of freshwater, they also rely on corals and seagrass to buffer the impact of ocean waves. The same wetlands support ecologically important and culturally iconic species such as the Scarlet Ibis and the West Indian manatee. The health of each of these ecosystems and their connections are fundamental to the healthy and functional island ecosystem that we depend on.

Our natural environments provide us with food, water, jobs and unique cultural value. Consider the agricultural and food sector: TT is known internationally for its unique cuisine created by immigrant ancestors, from sources on land and seas. Nearly all of our tourism industry depends on island ecology, from stunning land- and seascapes to the wildlife they support – nesting leatherback turtles, hundreds of birds, insects and native trees. Even Carnival and other cultural festivals would not be the same without the environment we enjoy. Whether we acknowledge these inherent natural benefits or not, the mismanagement and destruction of these intangible resources will degrade our livelihoods.

Furthermore, what we do as individuals in our backyards will have serious cumulative consequences to natural and human ecosystems nationwide.

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