Community based management of the grande riviere watershed
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Community-based management of the Grande Riviere Watershed. CANARI Forests and Livelihoods Conference 4 May 2010 Sarah McIntosh based on a case study prepared by Grant Trewenack for CANARI. European Commission: Programme on Tropical Forests and other Forests in Developing Countries.

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Community-based management of the Grande Riviere Watershed

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Community-based management of the Grande Riviere Watershed

CANARI Forests and Livelihoods Conference

4 May 2010

Sarah McIntosh

based on a case study prepared

by Grant Trewenack for CANARI

European Commission: Programme on Tropical Forests and other Forests in Developing Countries

Where is Grande Riviere?

The Grande Riviere economy

  • Traditionally farming and fishing

  • Increasingly eco-tourism (leatherback turtles, forest tours, beach, river)

  • Government employment

  • Hotels and guesthouses, several locally-owned, provide employment for about 50 people

  • Local perception that growth in tourism and relatively high employment has reduced extractive use of forest resources.

Source: Van den Eyden 2007

Key stakeholders in forest management : roles & responsibilities

  • Forestry Division

    • legal mandate to manage forests on state land and implement national forest policy

    • prevention of illegal forest activities including hunting and timber extraction from state land and forest reserve

    • research and technical advice on forest products

    • issuing of permits for transport of timber

  • National Parks Section

    - management of Matura National Park

  • Wildlife Division

    • provision of Game Licenses for hunting of approved species during hunting season,

    • appointment of community Honorary Game Wardens

Grande Riviere’s NRWRP team heading out for the day

Key stakeholders in forest management - roles & responsibilities:

  • Environmental Management Authority

    • designated Matura National Park as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA)

    • established Matura National Park Stakeholder Management Committee

  • National Reforestation and Watershed Rehabilitation project (NRWRP)

    • Ten-year programme (2005-2015) to replant 33,000 acres of forests, throughout Trinidad and Tobago, including 11,000 acres in watersheds, which have been denuded or destroyed.

    • Programme objectives include:

      • preservation of biodiversity;

      • enhanced watersheds;

      • increase in food production through agro forestry;

      • flood avoidance;

      • sustainable employment; and

      • enhanced human capacity.

Key stakeholders in forest management - roles & responsibilities:

  • Grande Riviere Tourism Development Project

    • manages Grande Riviere National Reforestation and Watershed Rehabilitation Programme (NRWRP)

    • conducts forest tours

    • manages Visitor Centre

  • NRWRP project in Grande Riviere incorporates:

    • replanting and maintenance of 25 acres of degraded forest per year;

    • development and maintenance of 52 miles of forest trails in 2005, 4 separate trails;

    • support for community development and training initiatives;

    • nursery for seedlings

Grande Riviere Nursery

Grande Riviere Visitor Centre

  • :

Enabling and constraining factors


  • ESA legislation and MNP declaration;

  • increasing trend towards participation in forest policy;

  • limited Forestry Division human resources necessitate increased dependence on community;

  • NRWRP;

  • 15 years of community conservation capacity building

  • development of mutual trust


  • limited power of MNP Stakeholder Committee

  • participation not an entrenched value in Forestry Division so dependent on individuals’ world view

  • NRWRP not sustainable in its current form and not integrated into Forestry Division

  • GRTDO sustainability at risk from over-dependence on a few key individuals

How does Grande Riviere community benefit from the forest and forest management?

Financial assets - enhances direct and indirect job opportunities

  • GRTDO employs part-time 24 tour guides

  • The NRWRP project employs 38 staff, 17 from Grande Riviere, others from neighbouring communities

  • Sale of craft/NTFPSs

Photos from a guided forest tour

Arts & craft sales

Arts & Crafts

Human assets

  • National Parks training for tour guides, safety, first aid, dendrology, mapping

  • Forest planting, propagation and maintenance training through NRWRP

  • Scientific and forest research training

  • Conservation awareness and education for turtles & Pawi

  • Strong management skills developed by local NGOs, particularly GRTO

Interview with GRTDO leader

Trail cutting

Natural assets

  • reduced tree extraction and removal of river rocks - also contributes to enhanced beach quality;

  • improved ecosystem services, wildlife conservation and wind protection as a result of replanting degraded and clear-felled forest and agricultural gardens;

  • opportunities for agro-forestry, (subject to permission being granted for access to agricultural land; and

  • improved recreational opportunities as a result of the development of forest trails.

Physical assets

  • Nursery


Visitor Centre

Social and political assets

  • Strong social cohesion and political assets have both contributed to and result from successful community development through tourism, forest management and conservation, and the community’s extensive exposure to and high reputation with tourists, scientific researchers and government specialists.

  • This enabled GRTDO to insist on tailoring NRWRP to the livelihood needs of the community

Michael James, former Councillor and GRTDO founder member

Lessons learned

  • Community-based tourism can contribute to natural resource protection (and vice versa);

  • Identifying and marketing the community’s tourism niche is critical to success

    • High performing CBOs, with relevant capacity, can drive and facilitate community participation in both government and private sector conservation initiatives

  • Mt Plaisir Estate Hotel

    Lessons learned

    • Built trust can provide a substitute for formal long-term contracts

    • Changing community behaviour takes time, education and continuing pressure from conservation leaders within and outside the community

    • Private sector support for community development can act as a powerful catalyst

    • A close-knit, cohesive community may contribute to conservation by protecting their natural resources for local use rather than exploitation by outsiders.

    Next steps and recommendations

    • GRTDO strategic planning to maintain capacity, address sustainability issues and identify new community enterprise opportunities (e.g. agro-forestry and a Pawi bird-watching trail).

    • Continue to build community participation, networking and support

    • Enhance participation in wider decision making processes for forest management (e.g. by strengthening MNPSMC)

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