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Rambharat using trees in flood plan

Published: 
Sunday, August 20, 2017
India High Commissioner Biswadip Dey, from left, EU Ambassador Arend Biesebroek, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence Rambharat and Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez plant a Bao-Bab tree in celebration of the 200-year anniversary of the purchase of the Queen’s Park Savannah, yesterday. Photo by:Kerwin Pierre

 

Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat says trees should be seen as an asset to assist us in the hurricane and rainy seasons, as they can help reduce damage, soil erosion and flooding.

He made the comment after he took part in the Citizens for Conservation’s tree planting exercise at the Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS), Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

The event was part of the bicentennial celebration of the QPS in commemoration of the 200-year anniversary of the purchase of the space for the people of T&T.

Fifty trees that were sponsored by various trust and conservation groups and representatives from the diplomatic corps were planted in the savannah and 40 trees were distributed to the public.

Rambharat said: “We are now entering the height of the hurricane season. We don’t know what to expect later on in the season but so far we know we’ve had a very active season.

“The strongest weather system we’ve had to deal with was Bret. Before during and after Bret in Port-of-Spain you would have seen the effects of the wind and rainfall on trees.

“We lost a few trees in the Savannah, one of the things that concern me is the health of the trees, some are over 100 years old and over a period of time they are rotting at the base and underground.”

Rambharat said there were more landslides, fallen trees and branches on the Lady Young Road during this wet season. But he said this was because after fires which occurred in previous dry seasons, no one surveyed the damage on top the hills and as the rains came down the ground became unstable and landslides occurred.

He said the ministry was now working in tandem with the Port-of-Spain City Corporation, San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation, Forestry and Horticulture Division and the Ministry of Works to manage some of the terrain, and recently just joined with the Works Ministry on clearing the North Coast rock slides.

Rambharat said some trees’ roots destabilised the rock structure and combined with their weight promoted landslides.

He said there was an ongoing exercise on the North Coast through Maracas to Blanchisseuse on removing some of the trees, but they were also replanting trees.

Asked about planting more trees in the city, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez said they were looking at a programme for tree restoration earmarked for strategic areas and he was trying to include private citizens and the business community.

Also asked about the homeless in the city, he said this was foremost on their agenda, adding they had held a number of meetings with the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services and the Ministry of Health to address the plight of the dispossessed.

He said a piece of land to establish a homeless centre was in the works and he wanted the business community and NGOs to get involved to find a solution.

Regarding the stray dog population in the city, he said just last week a hotel had asked him to remove several dogs from the area and an exercise was conducted to do so.

He said from time to time the corporation would encounter such requests.

European Union Ambassador Arend Biesebroek said the EU could make finance available to countries that wanted to take measures to mitigate climate change.

He said the EU was discussing with Government whether it had intentions of using the EU’s technical experience or funding.

Biesebroek said one of the ideas currently floating was the rehabilitation or reintroduction of mangrove areas near Port-of-Spain specifically to deal with rising sea levels.

He said that was an area where European expertise could be used to provide technical assistance.