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Antony Ramnarine

Seuram Jhilmit



Economy and economic policy

During the colonial era, Trinidad and Tobago was expected to produce raw materials for export to Britain for further processing there, hence secondary industries were virtually non-existent. This situation changed dramatically over the years with the advent of a number of secondary and service industries.

The economic structure for Trinidad and Tobago is summarized in the tables presented below in the form of selected economic indicators (source: EIU Country Report. 3rd quarter 1997).

Table 1: Economic structure

Economic Indicators






GDP at current prices TT$bn






Real GDP growth %






Consumer price inflation (ay)%






Population m






Export fob US$ m

1 691

1 500

1 778

2 456

2 505

Imports fob US$ m


1 953

1 037

1 869

2 153

Current accounts US$ m






Reserves excl gold US$ m






Total external debt US$ m

2 375

2 131

2 221

2 556

1 858

Debt-service ratio, paid %






Exchange rate (av) TT$:US$






August 8, 1997 TT$ 6.16:US$1

Table 2: Origins and components of GDP

Origins of gross domestic product - 1995

% of


Components of gross domestic product - 1994

% of total


Private consumption






Government consumption




Gross fixed investment


Electricity, gas & water


Exports of goods & services


Distribution, hotels and restaurants


Imports of goods & services


Transport and Communications




Financial services






Total including others



Table 3: Principle imports/exports - 1985

Principle exports - 1995


Principle imports - 1995


Mineral fuels

1 170

Machinery & transport equipment




Food & live animals


Manufactured goods


Manufactured goods


Food and live animals


Mineral fuels


Table 4 Origin/destination of imports and exports

Main destinations of exports - 1995

% of total

Main origins of imports - 1995

% of total
















Table 5 Selected economic indicators 1995 - 1999 (in % unless otherwise stated)

Real GDP growth rate












National savings/GDP






Central government saving/GDP






Private sector: saving/GDP






Central government fiscal balance/ GDP






Public sector borrowing requirement/ GDP






BOP current accounts/GDP






Debt service rotation






Interest service ration






Change in net official Intl

reserves (-increase) (US$Mn)






Net official Intl. reserves (US$Mn)






Gross official intl reserves (US$Mn)






Import cover (months)






Political situation

In 1942 Trinidad and Tobago was a British Colony. On 1961 December 04, it gained internal self-government. On 1962 August 31, the country became independent with Dominion status. On 1976 September 24, it became a Republic within the Commonwealth.

The 1942 Forestry Policy was heavily biased toward managing the forest to produce timber. The country was often referred to as a "colony" and the agency responsible for the management of the Forest was the "Forest Department". In 1981 because of the ministerial structure of the public service, it was the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Production, placing it in much closer contact with agriculture than in the past.

Due to the republican status of the country, policies and strategies were to become more locally oriented to address the needs of Trinidad and Tobago.

Environmental, social and economic importance of trees and forests

In 1942 the population at large did not appreciate and understand the values and benefits of forests and forestry. In 1981 Trinidad and Tobago society was significantly more educated and aware of the role of forests, some agitating for preservation while others demanded greater exploitation. Forestry had gained recognition as a science with better trained staff employed to service the needs of a growing population which made increasing demands for timber, water, wildlife, outdoor recreation, as well as forest land itself for housing, agriculture, quarrying and other competing uses.

One of government's policies is to emphasize social infrastructure programmes to improve the quality of life, reduce the level of unemployment and alleviate poverty.

Forestry is one of the main avenues for meeting these objectives through direct employment and the provision of raw material for downstream industries such as sawmilling, furniture manufacture, handicraft making, house and boat building. Opportunities also exist in ecotourism for tour guides, guest houses and art. Overall, it is estimated that over 10 000 people find employment in local forestry-related jobs. This excludes the vast numbers of others who are involved in the importation, sale and processing of imported timber, lumber, plywood, paper and paperboard.


Ownership of forested areas

The combined area of Trinidad and Tobago is approximately 512 800 hectares. Forests cover 248 000 ha representing 48.3% of the total land area of the country.

State owned forests account for 192 000 ha or 77.4% of all the forest lands. Private ownership therefore accounts for 56 000 ha or the remaining 22.6% of forest lands.

Table 6 State-owned Forest Lands of Trinidad and Tobago


Trinidad (ha)

Tobago (ha)

Total (ha)


Total land area

482 500

30 300

512 800


Total forested area

235 093

12 907

248 000


Proclaimed forest reserves

127 474

3 958

131 432


Unproclaimed forest reserves

11 652


11 652


Other forested state lands

36 967

8 949

48 916


Private forests

56 000


56 000


(Source : Chalmers, 1992)

Land use including national parks/protected areas

It should be noted that of the 192 000 ha of state owned forest, 100 000 ha are included in the proposed system of National Parks and Protected Areas.

This leaves just 92 000 ha of potentially exploitable state forests of which 30 000 ha are under extensive Natural Forest Management Systems (FRIM: 1980)

During the last decade there has been much greater significance attached to protection forestry in Trinidad and Tobago for the benefit of flora, fauna watersheds and other special features of the environment. Areas which were once dominated by timber production activities have been designated as parks, prohibited areas, wildlife sanctuaries and catchment areas. The Environment Management Authority also proposes the designation of "Environmentally Sensitive Areas" for protective purposes.

As public awareness of the environment increased, there have been equivalent demands for biodiversity conservation and protection of unique ecosystems. The Forestry Division have responded positively through whatever legal channels became available in the absence of specific legislation (e.g. "Prohibited Areas" have been declared under the forest Act).

Even within watersheds the Forestry Division utilizes a slope/land use classification recommended in an FAO project in 1986. While it is not legally binding, it is useful as a guide for good land use (see table 7).

Table 7: Slope categories and recommended land uses


Recommended land use

> 400

Watershed protection forests

30 - 400

Production forests

20 - 300


0 - 200

Annual agriculture

10 - 200

Intensive conservation measures

5 - 100

Moderate conservation measures

0 - 50

Does not need conservation measures

The proposed National Parks legislation and the National Park Authority would be the principle means for legally and administratively affording protection to the natural renewable resource base of Trinidad and Tobago in a coordinated framework.

Managing forests as watersheds units would also provide a greater degree of protection to flora, flora and the general environment than the current practice of having arbitrary conservancy boundaries.

Natural forest resources including mangroves

Natural forest species of various types are said to have covered both Trinidad and Tobago prior to the discovery of the Americas by European settlers. Systematic land use was first introduced by the British Colonial Administration some 100 years ago, mainly for the conservation of forest and the production of timber and cash crops for export such as cocoa, coffee, sugar cane, citrus, bananas, coconuts and tonka bean.

Today, forest still dominates the landscape of` the island although human settlements and economic activities have resulted in large scale clearance of natural forest cover mainly in the plains between the mountain ranges in Trinidad, and the southern part of Tobago.

Table 8: Extent of indigenous forest in Trinidad and Tobago

Indigenous Forest Types

Area (hectares)

Evergreen Seasonal

98 180

Semi-Evergreen Seasonal

13 930

Deciduous Seasonal Forest

3 620

Dry Evergreen Forests


Seasonal Montane Forests


Montane Forests

21 620

Swamp Forests

16 730

Secondary Forests

16 630

(Sources : Chalmers, 1992)

Planted forests resources

There exists approximately 20 000 ha of plantation or man-made forests in Trinidad and Tobago (FRIM: 1980). For the past fifty years, the two most important plantation species have been exotic Teak (Tectona grandis) and Honduras Pine (Pinus caribaea var hondurensis). Teak plantations were first established in Trinidad and Tobago in 1913 on a trial basis with seeds imported from Burma and subsequently grown on a commercial scale around 1925 - 1927 via the taungya system.

A number of other species have been planted on a limited scale in both pure and mixed stands. These species include Cedar (Cedrela odorata), Cypre (Cordia alliodora), Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and Apamate (Tabebuia rosea).

A field study conducted by the Forest Resource Inventory and Management Section (FRIM) in 1988 resulted in a drastic reassessment of the total area of then existing plantations. See Table 9.

Table 9: Area under plantation forests in Trinidad and Tobago


Trinidad ha

Tobago ha

Total ha








9 015




9 035.5


3 564




4 283.5

Other Species

2 029




2 177.6


14 608


646 -


15 496.6


Table 10: Teak and pine harvested (1990-1996) m3




19 92







Teak Tanteak

16 869

19 564

13 525

10 700

30 653

28 596

20 045

25 110

11 128



1 073

1 724



2 881

2 636

3 466

3 360


17 436

20 637

15 249

10 952

31 193

31 477

22 681

28 576

14 488

Pine Tanteak

3 491

1 061

5 739

11 340

15 439

19 732

8 585

2 2376

7 179









16 217

11 815


4 245

1 101

5 742

11 388

15 441

19 837

10 387

18 593

18 994


21 681

16 350

20 991

22 340

46 634

51 314

33 068

47 169

33 482

Source : Forestry Division

The combined local supply does not satisfy the demand for sawn lumber. Table 11 shows the volume and value of sawn lumber imported and exported from 1984 - 1998.

Table 11: Sawn lumber Imports and Exports 1984 -1998






Total value of imports

$000 tt

Total value of exports

$000 tt


287 253

1 145

133 804



170 933

1 323

82 048



114 258


80 421



134 608

1 403

65 034



33 597

1 362

26 479



40 050

3 312

32 465

1 051


49 194

5 083

35 742

7 619


37 163


60 135

2 726


22 613


40 598

2 793



3 391


5 679


27 837

1 970

21 406 471

1 932 236


31 808

4 756

73 211 447

6 540 339


25 112


71 671 138



75 608


124 535 912

4 581 624


31 264

1 000

77 997 552

3 170 410

Table 12: Forest production and removals for 1997 & 1998


Quantity 1997


Quantity 1998






Coniferous Hardwoods

Woodfuel & including charcoal




Sawn Wood Coniferous

10 000 000

17 000 000


Tropical Hardwoods

28 000 000

17 000 000



Woodfuels and wood energy

The economy of Trinidad and Tobago is oil - based and the utilization of woodfuels and wood energy is negligible. There is no reason why local demand for charcoal needs could not be met locally from log waste or from short rotation species.

Wood supplies from non-forest areas

57 000 seedlings were produced for community - based Forestry and sold to farmers for private forestry programmes. Several incentives are given to encourage and assist farmers. Seven species formed the variety of seedlings produced, and 11 711 ha were planted up to 1999.

Non-wood forest products

Traditionally the natural forest of the country have been a source of handicraft materials, fruits, wildmeat, flowering plants and other materials such as roots of the tree fern, all of which are nowadays collectively called non-wood forest products (NWFP). Nominal royalty rates are changed for some of these materials but there is very little control over their actual exploitation. Data compiled from 1997 - 1998 hunting season is as follows:

_ bushmeat - 9 253 game licenses were issued which generated $185 060.00 in revenue,

_ there is an attractive market for Wildlife meat which sometimes obtains up to $88.00 T.T / Kg,

_ permits were also sold for viewing turtles - 1 530 permits issued and $51 400 generated from sales.

To focus attention on this important and invaluable source of materials the Ministry of the Environment, through the Forestry Division, organized a four-day round table meeting in collaboration with FAO in November 1990 to:

_ review selected NWFP and their contributions to the creation of employment and the generation of income;

_ identify priority products and/or sectors and prepare project proposals for immediate action and support;

_ raise public awareness of the usefulness of the various NWFP.

The round table was organized by a local committee, which contained members of the NGO community, research institutes, and other Government Ministries. Dr. David Philcox of Kew Gardens was the resource person to the round table, which was launched by the Minister of Environment. A Very effective, week -long public exhibition was launched at the same time, demonstrating a wide range of NWFP artifacts and an extensive collection of relevant publications complied by the U.W.I. Library at St. Augustine.

The participants were divided into three working groups for discussion covering:

_ medicinal and pesticide flora;

_ handicraft materials and ornamental plants;

_ ecotourism.

They also discuss a number of prepared papers. The presence of participants from a number of Caribbean countries contributed to a series of very effective interactions. In all the groups there was a constant refrain - the recognition of the enormous biological diversity within the country and the over-riding need to educate all sections of the community of this blessing; to ensure that conservation must be practiced constantly and that utilization must be carefully controlled on a sustained yield basis.

It was recognized that NGOs and the private sector were in the best position to implement any proposals with respect to NWFP projects, with Government support systems being used as appropriate. A number of activities were identified for further development and these are identified below:

(a) development of natural insecticides for commercial use, using species such as Ryania speciosa, Which occurs as a low canopy species in the natural forest, and through the planting of Neem (Azadirachta indica) (which also produce a reasonable timber) and Persian lilac (Melia azedarach), a species on which CARIRI is already undertaking research;

(b) small scale cultivation, within the forest, of known aromatic/herbal /cosmetic/medicinal plants for the controlled preparation of herbal remedies, locally called "bush teas";

(c) cultivation of edible mushrooms;

(d) bee keeping;

(e) systematic harvesting of fruits from a number of forest species such as hog plum (Spondias mombin), balata (Manilkara bidentata), pois doux (Inga spp), seaside grape (Coccoloba uvifera) , chenet (Melicocca bijuga) and from several palm trees with edible fruits;

(f) ecotourism - which is dealt with later in this Report, through the careful development of local beauty spots/place of specific interest in terms of fauna and flora;

(g) a Community Forestry Project - more specifically the Sant Rosa Carib community which over the years has attempted to create a specific identity along with the development of an Amerindian museum;

(h) the encouragement of local plants used as handicraft materials, for example; tirite (Ischnosiphon arouma); mammoo (Calamus spp, Daemonorops spp; Asplundia spp); khus khus (Vetiveria zizanioides); screwpine (Pandanus utilis), Timite (Manicaria saccifera).

Recreation and tourism

Trinidad and Tobago abound in physiographic and biological diversity, far in excess of any of the other Caribbean territories. Trinidad is endowed with three mountain ranges, swamps, marshes, rivers, mud volcanoes, a pitch lake and beaches. Tobago is renown for its reefs and pristine beaches, waterfalls and historical sites.

In relation to its size Trinidad and Tobago is one of the more biologically diverse countries in the Western Hemisphere and reflects the transition from the South American landmass to an Antillean flora and fauna. There are over 100 mammalian species, almost 50% of which are bats; 420 species of birds, of which approximately 160 are migratory species which visit annually to feed during North American and South American winters; 70 species of reptiles; 76 species of freshwater and euryhaline fishes; and 26 species of amphibians. The number of insect species is not known but at least 617 species of butterflies have been identified.

In respect of the flora there are 280 species of ferns; over 2 200 species of native flowering plants, which include 200 species of orchids, 58 of bromeliads and 34 of aroids. Over 110 of these flowering plants are endemic to the islands. In addition, 800 species of flowering plants have been introduced to the islands. There is limited information on lower plants and new species of insects and plants are being discovered each year.

In terms of its marine biodiversity, Trinidad and Tobago, being in the Caribbean Sea, shares along with the other Caribbean islands, a healthy repository for some of the most productive and biologically complex ecosystem in the world.

In 1980 a Policy for the establishment and development of a National Park System in Trinidad and Tobago as well as a Systems Plan for National Parks and other Protected Areas were prepared. These received only limited legal and administrative approval from the authorities and the Forestry Division and Tobago House of Assembly continued to manage the natural renewable resources of the country without enabling national Park legislation.

It has only been in the last two years that draft National Park legislation has been prepared and circulated for public comment.

The Tourism Master Plan for Trinidad and Tobago acknowledges that ecotourism has been the most rapidly growing sector in the tourism industry and has identified the development of tourism in Tobago as a major priority. Its objective is to make Trinidad and Tobago the foremost tourism destination in the Caribbean.

Until such time as the proposed National Park Authority is formed, responsibility for the management of 61 proposed national parks and other protected areas fall under the Forestry Division and the Tobago House of Assembly.

The ecotourism potential is estimated to be a billion dollar industry which depends on the management and protection of the natural renewable resources of the country today for their use and enjoyment by future generations. The potential for investment is virtually unlimited as the private sector is now being invited to play a larger role in promoting and managing the tourism industry.

The Forestry Division training and environmental education need to be structured to meet the challenges of the 21st century where conflict resolution in natural resource management, environmental impact assessments and carrying capacity analyses will be brought into focus.

In this type of situation it is suggested that a regional approach to training and the development of management guidelines appropriate to small island states be pursued.

Watershed protection and management

One of the tangible products of forestry management is the production of water through the hydrologic cycle. While there is no specific watershed protection legislation the Forestry Division in Trinidad has traditionally managed sections of its forest estate primarily for watershed production to the exclusion of other operations such as timber harvesting or plantation forestry. The opportunity cost of doing so is high.

Water is impounded in surface reservoirs, pumped from streams or from underground storage areas and distributed commercially for residential, industrial or agricultural use by the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA).

No royalty or any other form of revenue is derived from this arrangement.

The demand for water continues to rise annually with increasing population, tourism and greater needs by the rapidly expanding industrial sector.

Deforestation of watersheds by shifting cultivation and fire is said to have reached alarming proportions. A conservative annual figure of 300 ha has been quoted by the Forestry Division. Slash and burn agriculture practices, and construction of roads and houses are also responsible for the increasing rate of deforestation in the country.

Since 1972, the Northern Range Reforestation Project has planted 2 500 ha of mixed hardwood and pine in critical watersheds. Shortage of funds has limited the annual planting programme to 50 ha in recent years. Therefore a drastic increase in the annual planting target is required if the race against deforestation is to be won. In 1990, fire damage in the Northern Range alone, was estimated to have destroyed 270 ha of forest.

The role of the forestry sector in producing water for use by all other sectors needs to be recognized and consideration be given to the payment of some form of royalty to the Forestry Division to manage and protect watersheds from forest fires, squatting, deforestation, quarrying and other such threats in order to guarantee a constant and adequate supply. Alternatively, the Forestry Division should be paid to reforest critical watersheds where forest plantation are needed for conservation purposes.

Recycling and other re-use of fibres

Waste paper is the only form of fibres that are recycled or re-used. There are no recycling plants available, but there is a very promising support from Governmental Organizations as well as Private enterprise toward the collection of waste paper which is collected and packaged for export by the Solid Waste Management Authority.

1200 tonnes of paper is exported to Venezuela and 1450 tonnes of corrugated paper and cardboard (packaging) is exported to Colombia, all of which are recycled.


Forest management law and policy

The main bases on which the Forest Policy of Trinidad and Tobago must rest are as follows:

_ the necessity for the preservation of protective forest vegetation and the desirability of the protection of the natural flora and fauna;

_ the necessity for the production of considerable quantities of major and minor forest products to meet the needs of the community;

_ the low volume production of timber per acre of marketable species in the natural mixed forests with consequent high cost of exploitation; the past serious overcutting of certain of the more valuable species with consequent scarcity of present supplies; the lack of any market at all for the majority of the species and the insufficient exploitation and utilization of certain species of utility;

_ the destruction of forest capital on an increasing scale even in areas permanently dedicated to forest, caused by the exploitation of petroleum;

_ the dependence on a large importation of soft woods to meet mainly the requirements of the building market;

_ the prevalence of areas of poor soil, coupled with the existence of large areas of non-productive land, the denudation and exposure of hilly land due to mistakes in alienation to agriculture in the past, leading to the necessity for a sound land policy conducive to the optimum usage of land;

_ the major importance of agriculture as a basic industry of the country;

_ the prevailing lack of knowledge and understanding of the benefits and potentialities of forest and forestry.

In view of the foregoing major considerations, the Forest Policy has been enunciated in the following form:

1942 Forest Policy

(a) Forest Reservation - To effect the permanent reservation by the State of suitably situated areas of forest of a total acreage sufficient to supply the benefits necessary for the welfare of the community - indirect benefits in the form of the maintenance of climatic conditions for agricultural crops, preservation of water supply, prevention of erosion and flooding etc. and direct benefits in the form of the supply of forest produce.

(b) Forest Management - To manage the forest in such a way as to place the utilization of their products on the basis of a sustained yield and to effect such improvement of their growing stock as will enable the country eventually to become self-supporting in lumber.

(c) Utilization - To effect the fullest possible utilization of the products of the forests, subject to the requirements of Forest Management and to encourage the most economic utilization of imported lumber.

(d) Research - To carry out organized research on all branches and aspects of tropical forestry and eventually to establish a Research Branch of the Forest Division.

(e) Education - To educate and train the subordinate forest staff, and to educate all classes of the community to an understanding of the benefits and value to the community of scientific forestry

(f) Private Forestry- To encourage and assist in every possible way owners of private forests and plantations.

The forestry sector in Trinidad and Tobago

The public forestry sector in Trinidad is managed by the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources and addresses the management, conservation and sustainable development of the country's natural renewable resources. In Tobago, control is under the Secretary for Agriculture in the Tobago House of Assembly. The State forests are considered to be in the patrimony of all citizens.

Forest management is based on the principles of multiple use and sustained yield, optimizing the role of the forest as a provider of goods (such as timber, water, wildlife, handicraft, etc.) and services (national parks, forest fire protection, rural employment, environmental conservation etc.) for the benefit of our society.

Specific goals and targets of the Forestry Division are:

_ manage the natural forest for production and conservation purposes;

_ expand commercial plantations for the sawmilling industry;

_ manage wildlife and their habitats on a sustainable basis;

_ protect the forest estate from fires, pests and other threats;

_ develop and maintain national parks and other protected areas.

Strategies for accomplishing these goals and targets are:

_ conduct integrated forest research, planning and management;

_ implementation of the bulk sales system for plantation grown timber;

_ acceleration of the regeneration programme for teak, pine and mixed hardwoods;

_ regulate the sawmilling and other wood processing industries;

_ revision and updating of legislation related to forest resources, national parks, wildlife and sawmills;

_ acquire the necessary technology and equipment to combat forest fires, the mealy bug pest and other potential threats to the forest.

The projected benefits of the these actions are expected to be :

_ production of timber to adequately supply raw materials to all downstream industries;

_ proper management of the watersheds to allow a constant and adequate supply of potable water;

_ a sustainable yield of wildlife;

_ the enhancement of ecotourism

_ increase in rural employment and community - based forestry;

_ reduction in flooding and social costs;

_ increased revenue from sale of local forest produce and products.

The major laws which control forestry activities are:

_ the Forests Acts (Revised 1999);

_ the Conservation of Wildlife Act (revised 1980);

_ the Sawmills Act (Revised 1999);

_ the State Lands Act (Revised 1980) and the State Lands Forest Produce Rules;

_ the Agricultural Fires Act (Revised 1980);

_ the Environmental Management Act (1995);

_ the Litter Act and other less relevant Acts.

Institutional strengthening and capacity building

The state's forestry activities need to be run as a business enterprise but is seriously inhibited by the frame work of the Public Service. If the national forestry enterprise is to be expanded efficiently and succeed, it must be removed from its present location and be established as an independent entity to be run along commercial lines.

The Forestry Division is responsible for the management and protection of all State Forests, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, and for the maintenance and protection of vital catchment areas throughout the country. In all, the Forestry Division is responsible for the management of 49.9% of the total land area. The intensity of this management must be considerably increased as a direct result of the destruction of vast areas of forests and other permanent crop cover on state and private lands caused by shifting cultivation, bushfires, squatting and poorly planned development.

Apart from the recognition that urgent remedial measures are required with respect to the large areas of forests destroyed, there is now a clear recognition by the Government of the very considerable contribution that extensive production forestry and agro forestry projects can make towards effective rural development and in helping to meet the social and economic needs of the country as a whole.

In order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire operation it is proposed that the Forestry Division be re-organized into an autonomous Statutory Authority which would continue to answer to the Minister through other Chairman of the proposed Forestry and National Parks Commission.

At present the Forestry Division is so short of professional staff that it is unrealistic to assume that it can possibly discharge its mandate at a realistically accepted level of effectiveness.

Two other Forestry - related positions that are also required are a civil engineer and a data processing computer specialist. Both positions can be filled locally.


If the Forestry Division is to administer the State's Forest effectively, adequate authority must be vested in the Division to enable it to discharge the functions with which it has been mandated.

This aspect was somewhat addressed through planned legislation - Amendments to the Forest Act and amendments to the Sawmills Act.

This new legislation requires the preparation of a 10 year national Forest Resource Conservation Plan and the establishment of a Forest Fund for use on approved Forestry projects.

A joint National Parks and Wildlife Bill was prepared and circulated for public comments in 1997, but was withdrawn after severe criticism. Separate legislation is currently being drafted for each sub-sector with the appropriate charges.

There is need for closer coordination between Forestry and Environmental legislation to ensure consistency between the Forestry Division and the Environmental Management Authority.

Taxation and incentives

There are no taxation system relating to the use of Forest Resources. A proposed system of revenue generation for the use of recreation areas is yet to be implemented.

However, there is an incentive programme for the private sector involved in rehabilitation of watersheds, taungya gardens, establishment of Fire Traces and nature trails. Incentives are mainly monetary compensations.

Indigenous people's issues

There is a relatively small Carib Community based in Mt. Pleasant, Arima district. There is no major input or consideration for this community by the Forestry Sector.



The social, economic and environmental outlook for the next 20 years is dependent on various factors within our control such as population variations, changes in the structure of the economy, policy and institutional arrangements, level of investment, the state of science and technology, to name a few economic variables. It is also dependent on social stability, consumer patterns and the nature of response to environmental policy such as recycling and conservation of scarce resources. In addition, there are factors beyond our control such as hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters which beset a number of island territories with devastating effects, sometimes on an annual basis.

Altogether these variables make predicting scenarios for the years 2005, 2010 and 2020 very difficult. Nevertheless, if one were to extrapolate from recent trends in an empirical way, one could arrive at reasonable scenarios for Trinidad and Tobago.

Thus, it would be reasonable to expect the population growth to increase (due in part to intra-regional migration); and that trade opportunities through Caricom would also increase, supported by large investments and technological advances.

A review of Trinidad and Tobago's social and sustainable development indicators would also provide a hint of what the future may hold.

Social indicators

The principal social indicator reflecting government's policies is the unemployment percentage. The official figure provided in 1997 November is 14.5% compared with 17.9% in 1995, the lowest in over a decade.

One of government's policies is to emphasize social infrastructure programmes to improve the quality of life, reduce the level of unemployment and alleviate poverty.

Forestry is one of the main avenues for meeting these objectives through direct employment and the provision of raw material for downstream industries such as sawmilling, furniture manufacture, handicraft making, house and boat building. Opportunities also exist in ecotourism for tour guides, guest houses and art. Overall, it is estimated that over 10 000 people find employment in local forestry-related jobs. This excludes the vast numbers of others who are involved in the importation, sale and processing of imported timber, lumber, plywood, paper and paperboard.

Sustainable development indicators

A country's sustainable development may be gauged by both local and international parameters.

A major imperative of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is the implementation of policies to promote sustainable economic growth, improve economic resilience while building a diversified economy and enhancing the quality of life of all citizens.

A major conditionality of the international community is also sustainable development in all sectors. Forestry is based upon the principles of multiple use of forests and sustained yield of goods and services for the nation. It is essential that the various agreements, conventions and resolutions arising from international meetings continue to guide our development.

In a twin-island state such as ours, we must ensure that carrying capacities are known, tolerance of the environment is not exceeded and a balance be struck between industry and the environment in order for sustained development to continue.

In 1997 November, the Government reported a 3.4% decrease in unemployment from 1995, a GDP which was increasing annually and a stable exchange rate, of which are social-economic indicators in favour of a sustainably developing Trinidad and Tobago.

Outlook for the forestry sector

Over the last 10 years, much emphasis has been placed on the forestry sector in Trinidad and Tobago earning its rightful place in national policy formulation and planning. Some of the highlights have been:

_ creation of the Environmental Management Authority;

_ adoption of a National Environmental Policy;

_ preparation of a revised Forest Policy;

_ inclusion of the forestry sector in the current 7-year National Planning framework;

_ preparation of 3-year and 9-year Forestry Sector Action Plans; and

_ adoption and action taken on several international conventions and agreements regarding the environment .

In the short to medium term, the following would be expected to contribute to forestry decision-making:

_ implementation of the ITTO Year 2000 Objective;

_ application of the revised Forest Policy;

_ enforcement of revised forestry legislation;

_ definition and monitoring of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management;

_ application of a new system of economic and environmental accounting;

_ enforcement of additional international conventions and agreements.

In practice, this means that timber exploitation from the natural forest will continue to decline to allow for greater in situ, non-consumptive multiple use. This trend started approximately 10 years ago when the average annual timber harvested for the period 1990-1998 was only 22 750 m3 compared to 40 714 m3 per annum during 1980-89.

In contrast, greater demands have been placed on the country's teak and Caribbean pine plantations which need to be replanted from its current annual rate of approximately 200 hectares to 500 hectares in order to remain sustainable.

As the demand in developed countries continues to increase for scarce tropical timber and manufactured products, it is expected that the wood processing industry in Trinidad and Tobago would continue to be viable, thereby providing rural employment contributing to poverty alleviation, as well as earning foreign exchange from the export of value-added wood products.

Towards a desirable scenario

Any future success of the forestry sector must inevitably depend upon a joint consultative approach among the primary stakeholders, the most important being the Government, industry and the rural population in whose communities the forests grow.

It would also be necessary for developing countries such as the Caribbean island states to benefit from financial assistance from developed nations to safeguard their forests for sustainability as part of a wider global strategy.

Educating forest owners and users on the multiple uses and values of the forestry resources would also be a key step in encouraging forest conservation activities for production and protection.

Finally, since we all owe our lives to forests and forestry, the collective effort of all sectors must be welcomed in planning, financing, managing and utilizing our valuable forest resources for present and future generations.


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