Green crime in Guanapo
Increased quarrying of major watershed
Since the suffocation and subsequent dying of millions of baby turtles in the natural incubator of the Grande Riviere beach when heavy tractors compacted the sand and thereby blocked their passage to the surface, environmentalists the world over are focusing their attention on the way this country deals with conservation of key eco-environment locations.
For years, the media including this column have highlighted the threat to an important aquifer in the Northern Range by quarrying and still the destruction continues in that area.
The eastern flank of our fifth highest mountain Chaguaramal is part of the major watershed of the Northern Range. Trips by hikers, environmentalists and the media have revealed and documented a natural storage and distribution area of thousands of gallons of water making way downhill to surface in the valley as an abundance of springs. These springs, popularly called the 'Springs of Guanapo' are the source of a voluminous supply of clear water even when the main river is brown.
In the 1980's and 90's, farmers utilized this generous supply of water to keep their crestle gardens well watered. At present, there has been a reintroduction of these vegetable plots and crestle is now thriving again under the watering harvested from these springs.
However, the farmers are unsure as to how long their success will last because of the ongoing quarrying of their water source in the mountains above.
The heights of Guanapo have always been regarded as one of the most pristine areas along the southern face of the eastern Northern Range. Verdant vegetation clothed these mountains, lively streams nurtured the valley and an abundance of wildlife thrived in these relative undisturbed conditions. This was a favourite valley of hikers and tertiary students exploring the attractions of our tropical forests. Herbalists found a treasure trove of crystals the points of which proved invaluable to their work. Crestle gardens in the valley provided an important food source to the market. The supply of clean water to the population was undisturbed.
Since the advent of the quarrying in the eastern hills of the valley, most of the natural treasures of this 'green' Valley have been lost. Quarrying of the sink holes that collect and filter water into the mountain have been ongoing atop the wall of what is known as the 'White Rock'.
Quarrying operations now dominate the Guanapo valley both on the actual mountain site and along the access road to the valley. While trucks transport the precious material away from the mountain to support the construction of highways in other parts of the island, more quarrying continues. The survival of this vital water source is threatened with major depletion.
An aerial view of the Guanapo Valley shows the extent to which the quarrying has advanced up the watershed in just a few years. Hunters have reported a scarcity of wild life in the area, hikers have noted the destruction of the important collection basins atop the aquifer and the absolute disappearance of birds from the area. The greenery that clothed the mountain and provided that necessary shade to attract the rains and support the watershed is gone. This is now referred to as 'Green Crime'.
At a time when our global supply of fresh water is decreasing with the change in world climates, international Governments are taking a closer look at water management laws in their respective countries.
At Rio+20 on 18th June 2012, a large number of regions called on governments to commit to making global water security a top priority. Trinidad and Tobago has been blessed with an abundance of water while other islands in the region are bone dry. This small country is fortunate to inherit an abundance of fresh water that continues to support the natural environment that in turn supplies us with our basic needs of clean water, pure air, shelter, food, medicines, recreation and education.
Water supports life. Without proper management and security of our water resources there will be no life. The continuing quarrying of this major water source at Guanapo is a threat to our water security and a crime against humanity. This quarrying must be halted immediately so that our lives will not be compromised in years to come.