Planning Minister vows to take action- Warning issued to forest squatters

Published: 
Friday, August 3, 2018
Flashback May 2017: Residents of Pine Drive, Valencia, return to their homes after a protest over the demolition of some squatter houses in the area by soldiers and police. PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ

T&T Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2018-08-03/warning-issued-forest-squatters

Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis has condemned illegal encroachment of forest spaces, stating that she would not condone the reckless action of a few to the detriment of many.

The issue was raised in a press release issued yesterday by Robinson-Regis who expressed deep concern over recent media reports concerning the threat to tree-cover and water-ways in East Trinidad as a result of squatting and illegal quarrying.

She noted that assessments conducted under the Improving Forest and Protected Areas Management Project currently being coordinated by her ministry and implemented by the Food and Agriculture

Organisation have highlighted a number of forests reserves that have suffered significant forest cover loss due to such illegal activities.

Such activity was not confined to the Melajo Forest Reserve and areas along the Toco Old Road, Robinson-Regis pointed out.

“As Minister with responsibility for the environment, I strongly condemned these illegal activities which do nothing more than negatively impact on the delicate eco-balance in these areas. These illegal activities also seriously undermined Government’s long-term development plans and objectives as articulated in Vision 2030 where the environment is placed at the centre of economic development.”

Robinson-Regis pointed out that these forests have become the home to several species of wild flora and fauna, which, if not protected could easily result in their extinction.

“These illegal activities also seriously undermined Government’s long-term development plans and objectives as articulated in Vision 2030 where the environment is placed at the centre of economic development.”

Robinson-Regis stated that her ministry has more than demonstrated its commitment to the preservation of our environment, citing the ban on all styrofoam products to come into effect next year and the designation of the Scarlet Ibis as an endangered species.

“Therefore, I wish to assure the national community that we will not condone the reckless actions of a few which are to the detriment of many. The illegal activities have therefore been brought to the attention of the relevant authorities and are receiving the appropriate consideration.”

She said that the new National Protected Areas System Plans which have identified additional forested areas deserving of Governmental protection had already been developed and would shortly be presented to the Cabinet for its consideration.

“Adjustments have also been proposed to the boundaries of existing protected forested areas to strengthen their protection and reduce further encroachment.”

Robinson-Regis pleaded with the population to be a watchdog for the environment.