Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 3rd 2016 Contents Other aspects of an ecosystem are
better measured economically using
some form of physical accounting,
where natural resources are measured
in physical non-monetary units. This
is why many projects in the Caroni RDI
evaluated biodiversity in physical terms.
Projects born out of this include studies
of Silky anteaters; Crab-eating raccoons;
bats; migratory passerines; crabs (both
the Hairy and the Blue); and even stud-
ies of the mangrove trees themselves.
"The Caroni Swamp is important for
many reasons," emphasised Dr Rostant.
"We now have a much better idea
of where the more biodiverse parts of
the swamp are---for example, the mud-
flats. We have a better idea of Scarlet
Ibis nesting and roosting sites, from
work by MSc student Deanna Albert
who used Participatory GIS with locals
as well as staff from the Forestry Divi-
sion. These sites seem to have shifted
over time, and may now not be covered
by the wildlife sanctuary. Perhaps the
law could be adapted to consider this.
We now also know that the swamp
may act as a nursery for significant fish
Dr Rostant saw several areas to con-
sider, as a result of UWI research so
far. One is to immediately move for
greater protection of the mudflats at
the mouth of the Caroni River, which
are so important as food sources and
fish nurseries. Another area is to explore
possible co-management of the swamp
with community users, rather than
continue with rigid "command and
control" type approaches which often
do not respond fast enough to major
habitat changes and movements of
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This diverse life includes not
only birds but fish. The Caroni
Swamp provides nursery habitat
for many baby fish, who find pro-
tection and food in the dense man-
grove roots, as found in a recent
study by Guy Marley. Protecting
the Caroni Swamp offshore mud-
flats may therefore be important
for the long term health of Gulf
of Paria fisheries.
"The swamp was extensively
sampled for fish community com-
position using specially built fyke
nets", explained Dr Rostant, who
said about 15,000 fish were sam-
pled, from 78 different species. Of
these, 37 species were new records
for the researchers.
"Preliminary analysis shows that
the swamp is indeed an important
nursery for a variety of fish species.
You can t just look at what s on
the land. You also need to look at
what s offshore to assess its total
value, and the mudflats at the
mouth of the Caroni River seem
to be very important in maintaining
and supporting fish and shore-
birds," Rostant said.
The RDI Caroni Swamp
The Caroni Swamp Research &
Development Impact (RDI) Fund
project, led by Prof John Agard,
falls under the climate change and
environmental issues category of
UWI funded RDI projects. Called
"Evaluation of the economic value
of Caroni Swamp: Implications of
climate change using the UNEP
TEEB Protocol", it was awarded
$954,854, and lasted three years,
from September 2012 to September
2015. Results of the studies are
currently being reviewed for pos-
sible academic publication.
Professor Agard is also the lead
on the Project for Ecosystem Serv-
ices (ProEcoServ) Trinidad, which
seeks to incorporate ecosystem
assessment through economic val-
uation of ecosystem services into
national development planning.
The Caroni Swamp RDI project is
an important component of this
overarching project, as it provides
data from a mangrove ecosystem.
Some aspects of the Caroni
Swamp are easier to put into dollars
and cents than others. For example
one student, Paul Mackoon, did
work on the ecotourism value that
local people got from the Caroni
Swamp. Mackoon s study estimat-
ed the domestic recreational access
value of the swamp---(in the form
of guided boat tours) at
TT$795,839 in 2012, when there
were 13,483 visitors; the gross prof-
it that year was an estimated
Wednesday, February 3, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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CELEBRATING WORLD WETLANDS DAY
UWI-RDI RESEARCH PROJECTS
UWI Caroni Swamp research projects
• Valuation of recreational resources
at Caroni Swamp Bird Sanctuary, as
part of a larger economic evaluation
of the Caroni Swamp.
• Migrant songbirds survey.
• Caroni Swamp as a fish nursery.
• Habitat use by the Crab-eating
• Bat diversity
• Density of the Silky Anteater.
• Mangrove forest studies.
• Shorebirds studies, including one on
Scarlet Ibis nesting sites.
• Community use, perceptions and
attitudes of the swamp.
• Impacts of environmental stressors
on mangrove morphology and
'Swamp important nursery for variety of fish species'
Silky Anteaters are one of several
species in the Caroni Swamp recently
studied by UWI researchers.
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