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Trinidad & Tobago

Location of the Project
Location of the Project

Title of IWEco National sub-Project

Reduce and reverse land degradation at selected Quarry site(s) in the North East of Trinidad using an integrated water, land and ecosystems management approach.


The Aripo Savannas, located in North Eastern Trinidad, is designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) and Strict Nature Reserve under Trinidad & Tobago’s Environmental Management Act (2000). It includes unique habitats, rare and endemic biodiversity and is of great scientific importance. The Savannas provide important ecosystem services - water resources for both aquifer recharge and direct extraction, high quality sand and gravel deposits for construction, and livelihoods for many associated in the quarrying industry.

Trinidad Tobago

Quarrying in this part of Trinidad started in the 1940s to meet national demand for aggregate materials by the building and road construction industries. Poor regulation over the years has led to indiscriminate quarrying, resulting in severe land degradation as existing vegetation and top soil is cleared leading to loss of habitat, wildlife and plants. Watercourses are polluted by large quantities of sediment from erosion and from wash plants, and this eventually is transported to the sea, affecting coastal water quality badly.

Given the sensitivity of the ecosystems within the North East area, focussing attention on the restoration and rehabilitation of the degraded quarry areas was deemed to be of high priority by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago and is the focus of their IWEco National sub-Project.

The overall objective of this sub-project is a reduction in risk posed by land degradation at selected quarry sites in the northeast of Trinidad through the employment of an integrated water, land and ecosystems management approach.

The major two outcomes of this project will be: 1) To reduce the scarring of the landscape through the implementation of appropriate rehabilitation techniques and 2) To reduce the impact on the natural and socio-economic environment through the application and adherence to international best practice for quarry operators and improved adherence to local legislation.

Status of Project

The Project was launched in May 2018 with a 48-month timeline. National Quarries Company Limited (NQCL), the state owned and operated quarry, located in Guaico, was chosen as the pilot training and rehabilitation site. It consists of three areas:

  • Site 1 - 0.68 hectare area focused on planting of tree species for food production, creation of wildlife habitat and regeneration of original forest species;
  • Site 2 - 4.65 hectare area of a back-filled exhausted quarry pit devoid of soil nutrients with severe gullying and erosion occurring. For this site the pilot interventions underway are: soil nutrification through the creation of mulch using waste beer hops; tree and grass cuttings and sargassum which would otherwise go to a landfill; planting of vetiver grass to address soil erosion; creation of living check dams to stem gullying and water run off, and; creation of a plant nursery which would serve as a source of plants for other areas to be rehabilitated under the project.
  • Site 3 -1.72 hectares of compacted, backfilled, exhausted quarry pit where forest species enrichment is being tested to determine the best species for rehabilitation of quarries.

The National Project Steering Committee (NPSC) held its first meeting in August 2018. It is made up of representatives of various ministries and agencies responsible for overseeing and managing sustainable quarrying in Trinidad and Tobago. These include: the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries; the Ministry of Planning and Development- Town and Country Division and Environmental Division; the Ministry of Agriculture Land and Fisheries- Forestry Division and Commission of State Lands; the Water Resources Agency and the Project’s national executing agency, the EMA.

In September 2018, two non-governmental organizations, the Trust for Sustainable Livelihoods (SUSTRUST) and IAMovement (IAM), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme - Small Grants Programme, began developing a quarry rehabilitation training programme as part of the project’s livelihoods programme. Between September and December, twenty-seven persons from surrounding communities underwent a 4-month programme of classroom and field work at the pilot sites. These “Quarry Rehabilitation Champions” were trained in areas such as site preparation and planting, creation of check dams and fire tracing, nursery development, top-soil conservation and management, mulching and implementing vetiver as a rehabilitation intervention. This component aims to develop community capability thereby enabling replication at other, additional sites to be identified under the national sub-project.

In November 2019, Carib Glassworks, a privately managed sand quarry in the lower Matura area, partnered with IWEco.TT to rehabilitate a 2-hectare demonstration site using techniques such as live check dams, the planting of mixed forest species and vetiver grass for soil and slope stabilization.  They are committed to matching an additional 1 hectare on site in 2021, using the techniques so far applied.

Highlights of activities to end-2021:

  • A total of 16 hectares has been rehabilitated to date using various nature-based rehabilitation techniques.
  • Small agro-forestry initiatives have been undertaken by the Quarry rehabilitation Champions at the Taungya experimental site at National Quarries to determine most resilient, low maintenance, highest yielding crops to plant under the full Taungya system. This activity has generated some income for the Champions.  In addition, a 3-hectare Taungya site has been planted with approximately 500 dasheen, cassava and sorrel suckers.
  • Ongoing academic research studies have been undertaken on project demonstration sites: 1) The ability of vetiver grass to promote tree growth on degraded quarry lands; 2) The ability of waste material (organic mulch) to rehabilitate top soil at degraded quarry lands; 3) The ability of vetiver grass to regenerate topsoil and subsurface soil; 4) A quantitative assessment of the carbon sequestration capabilities of vetiver grass and organic mulch.
  • Under IWEco Component 3: Review and Strengthening of Policy, Legislative and Institutional Capacity to Support Sustainable Land, Water Resources and Ecosystems Management, a national stakeholder focus group was held to identify existing gaps at regional and national level, define recommendations and select three projects with detailed Terms of Reference for future funding, procurement and implementation.
  • Audio interviews were recorded with the Government Information Service for IWEcoTT’s commemoration of World Water Day and World Forest Day in 2021.
  • The “Regeneration” project video completed and aired on national television and various fora.
  • A 30-minute podcast was recorded with UNEP highlighting the mobilization of the Quarry Rehabilitation Champions, and the collaboration between the various local project partners. 
  • Two 2-day, in-person workshops on nature-based livelihoods for the Quarry Rehabilitation Champions were held in partnership with CANARI in November 2021 as part of the national project sustainable livelihoods initiative. In addition, four mentorship sessions have been arranged post-workshops on topics such as registering an NGO; developing a management structure and defining roles and responsibilities in an NGO; marketing strategies; and product pricing.
  • The Quarry Rehabilitation Guidelines have been finalized and are scheduled for publication and distribution by March 2022.
  • The Quarry Rehabilitation Training Manual and Curriculum is scheduled for publication and distribution by April 2022.
  • IWEcoTT provided $50,000 USD to the Environmental Research Institute of Charlotteville (ERIC) to support the development of components of a management plan that align with IWEco goals and objectives for the North-East Tobago UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The final management plan is expected by June 30th 2022.
  • IWEcoTT, through the EMA, supported national efforts led by the Commissioner of State Lands and the Multi-Agency Task Force of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to provide twenty-two “No Trespassing” signs as a deterrent to illegal quarrying. These signs have been erected throughout Northeast Trinidad in areas where illegal quarrying is prevalent. 

Project Objectives and Impact

Project Objectives and Impact

Trinidad & Tobago National sub-Project Background

Please click here to download the Trinidad & Tobago National sub-Project Background document.

Progress and updates on Trinidad &Tobago’s National sub-Project

National Focal Point

Hayden Romano
Managing Director
Environmental Management Authority

National Project Coordinator

Alicia Aquing
Environmental Management Authority

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Background Documents
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Supported By

  • The GEF
  • un environment
  • UNDP
  • UN Environment
  • carpha
  • OECS