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Managing and preserving T&T’s biodiversity resources: Ministry of Planning, FAO and UWI launch T&T Biodiversity Information System

Wednesday August 5, 2020

 

“A library with a few books, to be continuously populated” is how Dr. Beshem Ramlal, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geomatics, Engineering and Land Management at UWI St. Augustine described Trinidad and Tobago’s first Biodiversity Information System (TTBIS), at a webinar to launch the System. This webinar took place on Wednesday August 5, 2020, and was facilitated by the Environmental Policy and Planning Division of the Ministry of Planning and Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine.

“This new Information System, is intended to be a central repository for gathering and managing T&T’s biodiversity data and information in order to share it efficiently with all stakeholders, so as to ensure better decision making”, stated Permanent Secretary Mrs. Joanne Deoraj. She went on to add that this system will provide the platform for linkages with all of the institutions, government and non-government, that use or collect biodiversity information.

Mr. Reuben Robertson, FAO Representative to Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname added that over 70 organisations worked together over the five years of the project’s implementation, and six pilot protected areas were identified and developed across Trinidad and Tobago. All efforts were geared towards the improved management of habitats, wildlife and other natural resources, which also support human life and livelihood in T&T.

In essence, it is envisioned that the TTBIS will store all the existing biodiversity information in one locality as a permanent electronic record and thereby eliminate the loss of valuable records due to reliance on paper based records with are challenged with deterioration, misplacement or misfiling. One of the most impressive features of this System is that it will allow data from expert sources outside of the Government sector to be uploaded, and it will also allow external sources to access Trinidad and Tobago’s data for academic, research and conservation purposes.

The TTBIS will contain both georeferenced data as well as non-georeferenced data. As far as practical the georeferenced data should be utilized by the GIS System within the database. It is also hoped that data providers that have been trained on the TTBIS system will utilize standard methodologies in collection of biodiversity information in order to develop a more accurate and effective Trinidad and Tobago Biodiversity Information System.

Upon its launch, the TTBIS, is currently populated with information from the 6 protected areas which include:

  • The Caroni Swamp
  • Matura Forest and Coastal Zone
  • North East Tobago Marine Protected Area
  • Main Ridge Forest Reserve
  • Nariva Swamp and Coastal Zone
  • Trinity Hills and Eastern Extension

Over time, the Environmental Policy and Planning Division will oversee the extension of this current information to most of the physical and organic resources of Trinidad and Tobago. The TTBIS can be accessed via https://ttbis.planning.gov.tt/ttbis/.