2014 report on our environment

As the year started, it seemed there was no ease to the population's need to import gadgets or their ongoing drive to construct modern large and energy-profligate amenities. Nor were signs there that the Tobago House of Assembly - whose responsibility it was to manage all waste emanating from our activities, wanted to improve on their dismal record. Consequently during the course of 2014 we found anthropogenically sourced waste highest on the list of negative influences affecting the island's ecosystems.

As it stand our wetlands remain in dire straits and it is unclear whether Tobago will be able to report in the foreseeable future that it has afforded any meaningful measure to protect the waterfronts or the reefs, dependent as both are on these vital resources:

Kilgwyn, home to a major wetland (15 ha) has been experiencing heavy dumping. Once again this important site has re-converted to the unhealthy morass it was before Environment Tobago volunteers cleaned it (2008). The final extension of the airport runway – enabling the Crown Point Airport to accommodate the large transcontinental flights and the paving of the access road to the beach through the mangrove has changed the hydrology of the wetland. To date, and as a direct result of the contruction of the levee upon which the new road was built, tidal circulation of water to and from the small lake inside the main mangrove thicket has not allowed to happen, resulting in a mosquito-filled, odious and nutrient-rich pool, albeit a very large one. Further, huts constructed on the beach to facilitate picnicking have subjected the area to hunters - who use them as camps, and to various other members of the general public, all of whom display scant regard for where they dispose of garbage. Finally, the Kilgywn road, by virtue of the privacy it affords, has found favour with many fly-tippers - The evidence of their industry lies visible, (sometimes not, as objects are frequently flung in the lake) in the vast amount of old fridges, decrepit stoves, rotting animal carcasses and the truckloads of plastics, paper and used-oil containers.

Bon Accord Lagoon and Buccoo Reef: The Bon Accord Lagoon continues to be subject to pollution via discharge from the barely functioning system at the Bon Accord/Milford Court treatment plant and run-off from the many drains in the area as well. The mangroves along the southwest peninsula are under stress, a lot of it now dead and more are dying everyday.

Needless to say this situation exacerbates the precarious outlook for the Buccoo Reef off the coast, as it undermines the mangrove's production of tannin – which is essentially coral sunblock. The pressure on the Bon Accord Marsh (mangrove system) has also worsened due to increased run-off from the watersheds. These drain into the area bringing with them unquantified nutrient loads - adding to algal growths, smothering the lagoon's grass beds and the nearby corals. 2014 also brought with some unplanned development just at the entrance to the lagoon. The THA effected a hasty re-construction of the old Gibson Slipway into a structure, which by virtue of its new form must now be renamed Gibson’s Jetty.