Nariva Swamp

The Nariva Swamp is the largest freshwater wetland in Trinidad and Tobago and has been designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The swamp is located on the east coast of Trinidad, immediately inland from the Manzanilla Bay and covers over 60 square kilometres (23 mi²). The area provides important habitat for waterfowl and is key habitat for the West Indian Manatee [1][2], Caimans, Anacondas, Boa constrictors, Red Howler monkeys, numerous species of parrots, including both the Blue-and-yellow and Scarlet Macaws.

One portion of the swamp, the Bush Bush Wildlife Sanctuary is historically important as a field site for the Trinidad Regional Virus Laboratory - now part of the Caribbean Epidemiology Center (Carec), which played a key role in the study of tropical mosquito-borne diseases.
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Virus Laboratory Field Assistant, Nariva Swamp, Trinidad. 1959

Four major wetland vegetation types[3] occur in the Nariva Swamp - mangrove swamp forest, palm forest, swamp wood and freshwater marsh.

The Nariva Swamp is threatened by rice cultivation in the northwest and watermelon cultivation in the southwest. It has also been affected by channelisation in the swamp and deforestation of its watershed.

Keeler and Pemberton (1996) claim that one of the positive features of the conflict over the use of the Nariva Swamp is that both local and international environmental groups are firmly behind the idea of sustainable use by Nariva by people, including its use for agriculture. There is very little sentiment or rhetoric for simply making Nariva into a park or denying all uses except ecotourism. This attitude makes sustainable consensus solutions more feasible. Keeler and Pemberton were co-creators of an interdisciplinary research team of University of the West Indies and University of Georgia scientists established to conduct research on the sustainable development of the Nariva Swamp. Their objectives were to promote wise use of the Ramsar site, to improve the welfare of the Kernahan community and the wider society from the use of Nariva’s resources and to contribute to UWI teaching and research. The sub components were (1) Social Assessment and Conservation Management of Nariva Swamp (2) The Contribution of Nutrition to Sustainable Development of the Nariva Swamp (3) Hydrology and Water Management (4) Soil Properties and Implications for Sustainable Management (5) The Development of a Nariva Swamp National Park as an Eco-Tourism Site (6) Sustainable use and commercialisation of wetland resource organisms. Basically the project called for economic development that would have required a lot of professional management expertise for its continuance – professional job creation.

Left out of this project, the Centre for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) at the University of the West Indies obtained funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and other sources and conducted gender sensitive research project in the swamp. The research was conducted in collaboration with the Island, Sustainability, Livelihood and Equity Programme (ISLE). ISLE was in turn a collaborative project of the University of the Philippines, Hasanuddin University in Indonesia, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, UWI and the Technical University of Nova Scotia. The Nariva human community was studied by young participant researchers. They used interviews, participant observation, ethnography and participatory approaches that included workshops on time lines, resource use charts and community and benefit flow charts. The governance aspect was to look at governance and social control at various levels (micro, macro), history of policy, how and why policies changed over time, impact of international policy community on local decision making and policy formation and a gender analysis of the policy assumptions (Lans, 2007).


1. ^ Regional Management Plan for the West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. CEP Technical Report No. 35 1995
2. ^ Khan, Jalaludin A. 2002. 2002 Status of the W. I. Manatee in Trinidad & Tobago
3. ^ As defined by Beard (1946).
  • Beard, J. S. (1946) The natural vegetation of Trinidad. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • PDF Brown, N.A. 2000. "Environmental advocacy in the Caribbean: The case of the Nariva Swamp, Trinidad." CANARI Technical Report No. 268.
  • Keeler, A.G.and Pemberton, C. 1996. "Nariva swamp: an exercise in environmental economics." Notes from a seminar presented at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Nov. 20, 1996.
  • Lans, C. 2007. Politically incorrect and bourgeois: Nariva Swamp is sufficient onto itself.
  • Sletto, B. 2002. "Producing space(s), representing landscapes: maps and resource conflicts in Trinidad." Cultural Geographies 9: 389-420
  • Theiler, Max and Downs, W. G. The Anthropod-Borne Viruses of Vertebrates: An Account of the Rockefeller Foundation Virus Program, 1951-1970. Yale University Press, 1973.

External links

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In physical geography, a wetland is an environment "at the interface between truly terrestrial ecosystems and aquatic systems making them inherently
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The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e. to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic,
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Trinidad (Spanish: "Trinity") is the largest and most populous of the 23 islands which make up the country of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just 11 km (7 miles) off the northeastern coast of Venezuela.
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Waterfowl are certain wildfowl of the order Anseriformes, especially members of the family Anatidae, which includes ducks, geese, and swans.

They are strong swimmers with medium to large bodies.
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T. manatus

Binomial name
Trichechus manatus
Linnaeus, 1758

The West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus
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Gray, 1844

Living Genera

Alligators and caimans are archosaurs, small species of crocodilians and forming the family Alligatoridae
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Wagler, 1830


E. beniensis
E. deschauenseei
E. murinus
E. notaeus

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B. constrictor

Binomial name
Boa constrictor
Linnaeus, 1758

The boa constrictor (Boa constrictor ssp.
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A. seniculus

Binomial name
Alouatta seniculus
(Humboldt, 1812)

The Venezuelan Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta seniculus
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Macaws are large colourful New World parrots, classified into six of the many Psittacidae genera: Ara
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Trinidad Regional Virus Laboratory (T.R.V.L.) was established in Port of Spain, in 1953 by the Rockefeller Foundation in co-operation with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. It was originally housed in an old wooden army barracks near the docks in Port of Spain.
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C. lanatus

Binomial name
Citrullus lanatus
(Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.
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A drainage basin is a region of land where water from rain or snow melt drains downhill into a body of water, such as a river, lake, dam, estuary, wetland, sea or ocean. The drainage basin includes both the streams and rivers that convey the water as well as the land surfaces from
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John Stanley Beard (1916-) is a British-born forester and ecologist who now resides in Australia. While working with the Forestry Division in Trinidad and Tobago during the 1940s, Beard developed a system of forest classification for Tropical America and described the forests of
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John Stanley Beard (1916-) is a British-born forester and ecologist who now resides in Australia. While working with the Forestry Division in Trinidad and Tobago during the 1940s, Beard developed a system of forest classification for Tropical America and described the forests of
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