The activities of the Trust can be divided into 7 main areas of focus:
Capacity Building :
The Trust expects that the organisation, and its community partners, will continue to grow and as such, resources are needed to facilitate organisational capacity. Sourcing these resources involves tasks such as developing accommodation, acquiring equipment and improving existing transportation.
Baseline Assessment/Monitoring and Evaluation:
In order for an ecotourism/conservation programme to be developed and conclude successfully, an assessment must first be done to determine what is already in place, what still needs to be done,and the best ways to achieve this. The Trust will oversee the design of the Tourism and Conservation Assessment Process (TCAP), which will involve a team comprising a cross-section of stakeholders.
Monitoring and evaluation is also key to the transparency and accountability of the Trust. Basically, our M&E systems developed track what is being done and whether the programme is making a difference. Our M&E systems allow management to calculate how to allocate resources to achieve the best overall result.
Public Awareness and Education:
Sadly, conservation and community development efforts are still hampered by a lack of awareness on issues such as the importance of preserving species and measures which can be taken; environment resource management, climate change, livelihood issues and sustainable ecotourism practices. The Trust has developed a public awareness strategy which aims to tackle not only these issues, but also broader socio-economic concerns. That target audiences range from children, straight through to the corporate sector. Activities include the development of awareness material such as flyers, brochures, etc., the implementation of a schools, community and public awareness programmes; utilizing activities such as the national Adopt-A-Turtle Program and the introduction of a consumer safety programme.
Sea Turtles are of primary economic value in local ecotourism efforts. Unfortunately, all the sea turtle species visiting our shores are regarded as endangered. Trinidad & Tobago is, as yet, one of the few Caribbean countries without a comprehensive conservation plan. The Trust aims to change this through increased monitoring and tagging, new research projects, assessment of the feasibility of hatchery facilities etc.
Research & Monitoring:
Conservation goes hand in hand with Research and Monitoring. This is especially important in Trinidad & Tobago where sea turtles are to be used as a catalyst for tourism. It must be determined whether such tourism is having any impact on the nesting sea turtles. In addition, the numbers of visiting sea turtles affords a unique opportunity to gain information on their biology and ecology. Activities in this area will include the establishment of a Marine Research Facility & Sea Aquarium, as well as offshore or in-water monitoring.
It is theorized that global climate change can have a potential effect on the sex ratio of sea turtles. Processes such as growth, digestion and reproduction, being closely related to temperature, can also be affected. In addition, changing water levels can impact on foraging and nesting sites. The question arises as to whether sea turtle populations are capable of adapting to face these challenges. Long term study is needed and the Trust intends to incorporate this as part of its Research Initiative.
Sustainable Community Development:
The presence of nesting sea turtles, such as Leatherbacks and Hawksbills, is a major attraction for eco-tourists and has the potential to allow for sustainable development of communities. Jobs can be created in areas such as tour guiding if appropriate marketing and promotion is undertaken, in conjunction with physical development of target communities to accommodate tourists.