Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Governing the Commons

During today's meeting we also discussed the importance of communities working together to build their future, rather than waiting for government direction. Solutions to problems when they come from within are far more successful than those which have been imposed from the outside.

One key set of mechanisms for improving social management of shared projects comes from Elinor Ostrom's pivotal work "Governing the Commons". The central theoretic guidance for her work is available here on the projects page. (Please forgive my notes in the margins!)

Additionally a host of successful case studies is available on the web page of the International Association for the Study of the Commons! Please take a look!

The National Adaptation Strategy

One important request that came out of the meeting today is access to the National Adaptation Strategy. It is here on the project documents page. Please note, that circumstances and priorities have changed since this was drafted and therefore not all information here is up to date. 

Non State Actor Stakeholder Meeting

Today down at Couva Sevilla Estate we held a very informative meeting with Non-State Actors Stakeholders to discuss the environmental impacts of the NAS and the divestment of Caroni (1975) Ltd. lands.

The meeting was well attended and discussions of what the environmental challenges are as a result of the shift from sugar, the social, economic and environmental impacts, and potential solutions were productive. 

There is an agreed need for ideas and solutions and next steps.

Minutes for the meeting will be coming soon!

In the meantime, the presentations of the European Commission and on the SEA are here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Idea of the Day! Dig a Swale

The rainy dry season is inspirational around here. 

Water rushing down channels isn't getting into the aquifers and instead everything every where is paved... or at least it seems that way.

When putting in new developments, for agriculture, housing, industry, or other building sites, why not put in swales. Swales capture surface run off and send it into the aquifers, both nourishing soils and reducing erosion. The berms make great fertile planting beds too!

They cost almost nothing and can have a big impact on the potable water availability throughout the country.

For more information on how to do this see wikihow's How to dig a swale

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Idea of the Day! 12 Simple Things

Today's Idea of the Day comes from UNDP

Climate change issues are significant and as we have a huge downpour here in Maraval it seems that the dry season is not so dry this year. Yes, it keeps bush fires down this year, but whether it is epic flooding or disastrous droughts, freak snow storms or blistering heat waves we are seeing a change in our climate. 

As a friend in Canada once said to me "It used to be that people talked about the weather. Now people talk about how the weather used to be."

There is a great article in the New York Times this week by Daniel Friedman about "Nature's Dow" about how we are in a global environmental crisis as well as a global economic crisis. Read the article here.

And because we need to look at solutions, see the UNDP's 12 Simple Things. Small changes can have big results IF enough people will join in. 

Are you willing to part of the solution?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Idea of the Day! COCOA!

We spent a great day at the Coffee an Cocoa Research Center as part of the Roundtable for Sustainable Cocoa Economy meeting. At the field trip we learned about how cocoa is grown, different varieties, how it is processed, graded and some of the challenges that impact cocoa. (Witches broom = bad)

Our field trip was informative and gave each of the team a chance to get a feel for what is needed for cocoa cultivation. Trinidad produces very high grade "fine" cocoa which was described in symphonic terms by one of the experts from the Roundtable.  And it draws much higher prices on the market than bulk cocoas. 

From our informal interviews with the experts from the Roundtable, cocoa as a cash crop for Trinidad has a promising future. Demand remains steady throughout economic ups and downs, and is due to increase as chocolate becomes more broadly consumed in China and India.

Environmentally, cocoa requires a good deal of water, but because it can be intercropped with other sustenance crops, and produces a lot of good mulching materials it can be a good crop and potentially quite lucrative. 

Thanks to the Roundtable for a Sustainable Cocoa Economy, and the organizers for a great day!!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Idea of the Day! Bee Keeping

The increase in food crops, including vegetables, fruits and nuts will need pollinators!!

Bee keeping may be an option for some who want to provide support to the increased in food security.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources has a registration site and a potential for agro-tourism!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Idea of the Day! RAIN BARRELS!

Today's great idea came from a Friend of the SEA who suggested that rain barrels should be distributed to households with guttering to capture rainwater. 

Used throughout the Caribbean to capture rainwater in areas with less rainfall or brackish groundwater, rain barrels can play and important role in providing water during the dry season to water household gardens, wash cars, wash clothes, and used for toilet water. It's also great for washing your hair with!

You can watch a video on how to make a rain barrel system here.

And of course wikipedia has a lot to say here.

Simple, easy to install, and if enough people would use them, flooding could be reduced and valuable water resources could be conserved!!

Do you have an idea of the day? Please send to dr.mary.matthews@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Idea of the Day!

For the Idea of the Day, some stakeholders have suggested that there is a need to improve the image of eating locally produced foods!

A social marketing campaign may be an ideal way to do this, as more variety of fresh, sustainably grown crops come on the market. 

Social marketing can be used to change behavior for the public good, as well as for individual benefits. It is used in public health campaigns to stop smoking, to reduce the spread of some diseases, to improve environmental conditions, and to raise over all awareness. The focus is on helping people to make a small change for an overall larger benefit. (Think recycling, or anti-littering campaigns). 

Stay tuned for tomorrow's idea of the day!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Idea of the Day!

In order to stimulate our collective thinking, we are launching the "Idea of the Day" segment!
Your contributions are welcome!!

For today, we start with Vermicomposting - using worms to break down organic matter and create GREAT SOIL.

Some articles worth exploring are: 
and  a comprehensive article from Wikipedia

Please send us your ideas and we'll add them too!

Tour of Mr. Roop's Farm

Thursday Glenroy and I went to visit Mr. Roop's farm in Freeport
Thursday we went to visit Mr. Roop's farm in Freeport
He has 3 acres on land that was formerly used for sugar cane cultivation that he has developed into a very productive farm growing a wide range of crops. 

He has used soil remediation techniques including widespread drip irrigation, use of chicken manure for fertilizer, intercropping, and row cropping with berms that create lovely, healthy crops.
The intercropping and use of select crops for his specific soil types reduces pests, increases beneficial insects and takes advantage of the irrigation techniques he has developed including a built on site pond, (complete with alligators!!) and strategic drainage system.

It was interesting to note that right next to his property is another plot that is not actively being tended. The species here include bamboo and kudzu vines. These vines grow up to 1 foot (30 cm) per day in hot humid weather and are very aggressive and opportunistic. Suffice to say, this is a cause for concern for Mr. Roop, as well as a potential problem as this species becomes more wide spread. There is no commercial use for kudzu and it does not make for good animal fodder as the vines are too sinuous.

Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Roop for a lovely afternoon and for your hospitality!
More information about the work Mr. Roop is doing, and additional photos are available upon request.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

International agreements of Trinidad and Tobago

Thanks to Monica for the official link to the list of international agreements that Trinidad and Tobago are members to!

This includes the environmental agreements!

Welcome to the SEA Blog

Welcome Everyone who is interested in the progress of the SEA for the Trinidad and Tobago National Adaptation Strategy!

We are in a very busy phase of the project - getting together information for the policy, institutional and framework context for the SEA and gathering baseline data. 
If you have any documents to send, please forward them to me at dr.mary.matthews@gmail.com and thank you again to those who have already been in contact with us!

We have been holding meetings with some stakeholders and continue to follow up with others! It has been busy busy busy and Glenroy and myself are having a great time and learning so much! There is so much to understand and it is all quite exciting! 

Please take a look around and visit often - we plan to have almost daily updates of our progress and your input is welcome and needed! Please use the comments section - you do not have to be a member of blogger to use it, but please let us know who you are when you make your comments. 

We look forward to hearing from you!

Very best,