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Introducing BIOREACH

BIOREACH Tobago validation workshop. At head table (L-R) is Dr. David Persaud (Environmental Manager, EPPD), Dr. Claus-Martin Eckelmann
(Lead Technical Officer- FAO/UN), Ms. Annalisa Arlen-Benjamin (Representative of the Operational Focal Point
GEF/Chair of the PSC) and Mr. Darren Henry (Natural Resources and Forestry, Tobago).

Trinidad and Tobago has received approval from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to develop a project entitled “BIOREACH: Biodiversity Conservation and Agroecological Land Restoration in Productive Landscapes of Trinidad and Tobago” in the amount of USD 3.75 million. This project seeks to promote biodiversity conservation, restore degraded lands and improve the livelihoods of rural communities in targeted productive landscapes (agriculture, forestry and other land uses) throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO/UN) is the GEF Implementation Agency selected to assist Trinidad and Tobago with the drafting of a detailed project document for submission to the GEF by March 2020 - a deadline which at time this newsletter was published, has been met.

The GEF is facilitating the development of the project document through a Project Preparation Grant (PPG). The preparation is being guided by a multi-stakeholder steering committee consisting of representatives from various state agencies, the agricultural sector and NGO’s - including Environment Tobago. This process will use a participatory approach and will include opportunities for capacity building of stakeholders.

Why is BIOREACH relevant?: The problem BIOREACH seeks to address is the threat to T&T’s biodiversity and its productive landscapes by human encroachment, forest fires and unsustainable practices.

The biodiversity of Trinidad and Tobago is key in the provision of ecosystem services. These include nature’s services such as nutrient cycling, pollination and soil formation - which ensure food, medicine and raw materials, climate regulation, air and water purification and many cultural and recreational opportunities. Land degradation and its child biodiversity loss therefore reduces (our) access, use and enjoyment of valuable services, which will lead to impacts on livelihoods, health and agricultural production.

BIOREACH therefore seeks to limit and reverse some of these negative impacts through the restoration of landscapes, effective land use planning and the proliferation of sustainably cultivated green value chains that can contribute towards more diverse livelihood opportunities.

How is Environment Tobago involved in BIOREACH?: The project despite its initial approval has yet to be fully signed off on by the GEF. However assuming minimal extenuations Tobago should see BIOREACH early in 2021. To that end ET is in the process of legalising tenure of private plots for tree-planting as well as eco-agriculture. We are also mobilising partnerships for wildlife conservation as well as riverine environment restoration.

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