Matura National Park Biological Survey


Research was planned, developed and is carried out in participation with stakeholders: local communities, national NGOs (COPE, CFCA) and Forestry Division.

Various meetings were held with environmental community-based organizations, village councils and the M2M network in the Matura to Matelot area to discuss and develop participation.

Two regional consultation meetings were organised for the general public where the research project was presented to the public, input was requested into the design of research activities and methodologies, and desired outputs and formats were discussed. These took place in Grande Rivière Visitor Centre on Thursday 14 July 2005 and in Salybia Primary School on Wednesday 20 July 2005. At these meetings the research project for the Matura National Park was presented to the public; input into design of planned research activities and methodology was invited; desired outputs for local communities were discussed and participation was discussed.

This project is carried out in participation with:
Salybia Environmental Group
Balandra Environmental and Nature Group
Toco Foundation
SAD – Toco
Grande Rivière Tourism Development Organisation
PAWI group - Matelot
And Caribbean Forest Conservation Association

Eighteen community participants (nominated by the above-mentioned CBOs are participating in the research).

Forestry Division
Forestry Division actively supports this research. Jefferson Quashie and Richie Singh, foresters with National Parks, FD participate in the vegetation survey.

The University of The West Indies: Department of Life Sciences
This project is co-ordinated by:
Dr. Veerle Van den Eynden

The vegetation survey is co-ordinated by:
Alësha Naranjit.

Research activities are overseen by:
Dr. Mike Oatham
Dr. Dawn Philip
Dr. Adrian Hailey
Dr. Christopher Starr
Dr. Grace Sirju-Charran
Of the Department of Life Sciences and Professor Serwan Baban of the Centre for Caribbean Land and Environmental Appraisal Research (CLEAR).

Plant specimens are pressed, dried and identified thanks to collaboration with The National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago.

Twenty-six people from local communities, NGOs and Forestry Division were trained as participants for the participatory baseline survey in the Agro-Tourism Centre in Cumana, Toco from 16 to 18 August 2005.
At this workshop all participants were trained in field survey techniques by researchers and lecturers of the Department of Life Sciences; planned research activities were discussed and scrutinised in detail; survey methods were finalised by the entire team and survey practicalities were discussed.

Training of the assistants in bird identification was difficult considering our methodology. Note taking and short talks showed promise, but the transect (sector) walk method was not effective in realizing this objective. Nevertheless the method did actually facilitate an interactive, educational environment amongst team members, but this resulted in disturbances which reduced observer concentration and effort, and most likely alarmed shy birds.

Since training assistants was a deliverable of this study, the “transect-walk” method was deemed appropriate for interactive survey sessions. Good relationships and team dynamism were essential in inspiring interest in this project. With a week more or so dedicated alongside an expert at a more convenient birding hotspot, all the assistants may be adept enough to start running birding tours. They all are quite suitable for subsequent scientific research assistantship.

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