National Bird Under Siege (see downloadable PDF for images and video links)

Date: June 8th , 2017

Dear Editor/Newsroom,

We must protect our wetlands.

Although hunters kill the Scarlet Ibis, with its habitat the birds will continue to repopulate.

When their natural habitat, the mangrove forests, are destroyed the Scarlet Ibis will disappear!

Why is the Government turning a blind eye on those who are doing this illegal degradation?

Attached, is the official complaint form that Fishermen and Friends of the Sea have submitted to the Environmental Management Authority appealing for their intervention in the destruction of the Aripero Mangroves.

Attached is a video of a flock of Scarlet Ibis circling the Aripero Mangroves at Point Sable Beach La Brea.

This video emphasizes the need to protect the Aripero Mangrove – a nesting area for our national bird, the Scarlet Ibis.

National Bird Under Siege

The Scarlet Ibis is protected under the Wild Life Conservation Act of 1958. Without a habitat our national bird, the Scarlet Ibis will perish. Every mangrove branch is protected in the National Environmental Policy (NEP) of the Environmental Management (EM) Act 2000, a special majority Act.

Despite this powerful Law, CITES an international convention and local policies mandating the protection of our national bird and wetlands, why are our environmental institutions silent and sitting idly by whilst our wetlands and mangrove forests continue to be illegally destroyed even though the Law is 17 years old? Before the EM Act was passed in 2000, for 14 long years this nation financed a “toothless bulldog” without legislative support. What is the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) excuse now?

Today habitat removal is affecting the interconnected mangrove/sea-grass/lagoon wetland ecosystems and the EMA are once again sleeping on themselves. This is clearly observed in the El Socorro South Extension Wetlands, on the Uriah Butler Highway (with the suspected 15,000 acres missing Caroni lands) and in lesser known but critically important Scarlet Ibis nesting areas such as the Aripero Wetlands in Rousillac.

Presently at the end of Pond Road, Aripero Village, Rousillac, bulldozers are removing mangrove forests from the Aripero Swamp for the past 9 months. As we write the mangroves trees continue to be cleared daily by several D6 tractors and are being back filled by unknown parties to whom there is no record of any approval whatsoever.

Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) are again doing our EMA/Government’s work and asking publicly why have there not been any investigations or arrest?

Bulldozers are destroying the Aripero Wetlands and have already removed the natural passages for the overflow of the Aripero Pond, a nationally recognized a freshwater marsh and nesting site and habitat for the Scarlet Ibis and other freshwater fowls. The freshwater pond, located opposite to the ongoing bulldozed site, is being drained and redirected to the site. The Aripero Pond is covered with algal bloom which is believed to have been as a result of the ongoing works and stifling of the pond.

Image 1: Bulldozing taking place at the Rousillac Swamp.

Image 2: Mangroves are being destroyed.

Image 3: Freshwater marshes (The Aripero Pond) located directly opposite the site are being destroyed.

Image 4: The Aripero Pond completely covered with algae.

Image 5: The Aripero Pond is being drained and the water redirected to the development.

Rousillac is one of few mangroves swamps in the country where all the various types of mangroves – red, black, white and button-wood mangrove species are located within close proximity of each other. Aripero and Otaheite were designated as wetland sites, following the signing of the Ramsar Agreement in 1971.

Our mangrove ecosystems must be protected as they provide a myriad of ecosystem services.
FFOS have sent a formal complaint to the EMA appealing for their intervention in this matter.

NO get rich plans should be permitted to engage in such activities within mangrove swamps. It is within the EMA jurisdiction to ensure schemes are conducted within the confines of the Law.

FFOS appeal to the EMA to act independently, without political interference, fear or favor regardless of how politically connected these still unknown entities are.

Sincerely,
Gary Aboud
Corporate Secretary

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