Over the weekend of June 23 and 24, the Environmental Policy and Planning Division (EPPD) and the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) of the Ministry collaborated to conduct a mangrove replanting activity with over 100 volunteers at the Brickfield Fishing Facility to alleviate coastal erosion occurring on the two (2) artificial headlands that have been created from dredge spoils to protect the seaward entrance to that community’s fishing facility. The Ministry of Planning and Development recognizes the ecological significance of the mudflats along the West Coast of Trinidad.
This two part exercise involved first harvesting the seedlings on Saturday June 23rd from the Caroni Swamp, 1 154 seedlings were collected, and the second part of the exercise was the actual replanting on the following Sunday. Staff, NGOs, other Ministries and concerned citizens were deeply involved on both days.
What are Mudflats?
Mudflats occur in the near shore areas of a water body that is regularly flooded by tides and are formed from the deposition of mud by these tides. This coastal landform usually occurs in sheltered areas of the coast like the bays along the West Coast of Trinidad.
Significance of Mudflats
Mudflats are an important ecosystem attracting large numbers of shorebirds. These intertidal areas are also habitats for a number of species of crabs, fish, and mollusks which form the food base for the shorebirds. The mudflats along the West Coast of Trinidad are contiguous with the Caroni Swamp Wetland with the deposits creating the mudflats being a result of deposits from the Caroni drainage. The Caroni Swamp and the West Coast mudflats can be considered as forming one ecosystem complex.
These mudflats are utilized by significant numbers of shorebirds both migratory and resident as feeding grounds including the national bird, the scarlet ibis, sandpipers, brown pelicans, laughing gulls, herons, willets, whimbrels, black skimmers, neotropical cormorant, terns, etc. These mudflats along the West Coast of Trinidad are therefore considered to be bird-watching hotspots.
Additionally, mudflats also protect the inland landforms from erosion. They act as a barrier preventing waves from eroding land in the interior.