Matura National Park ESA Participatory Biological Baseline Survey

Published on (GMT) by Veerle Van den Eynden
Matura National Park ESA is a 9000 ha protected tropical forest area in north-east Trinidad. Declared an Environmentally Sensitive Area in 2004, it is composed largely of the Matura and St. David forest reserves, and about 10 % private lands, most of which were formerly cocoa, coffee and tree crop estates that have been abandoned for decades. Altitude varies from 0 to 575 m, with Trinidad’s Northern Range traversing the park in an east-west direction. Over 80 % of the area is undisturbed tropical forest: evergreen seasonal forest or mora forest at lower elevations and montane forest at higher elevations. About 5% of the national park area is currently inhabited and/or farmed. Very few people (less than 10 households) live within the boundaries of the Matura National Park. The park is surrounded by 14 coastal communities, with a total population of 5325, whose livelihoods depend partially on the resources of this protected area. In order to inform management decisions for this protected forest area and to ensure that conservation of natural areas and biodiversity can be combined with the needs of local communities, a participatory biological baseline survey was carried out in 2005-2007 to:  study how Matura National Park and its various natural resources is used;  study how local communities and other stakeholders depend on forests for their livelihoods;  find out what local people’s views are on forests and conservation;  survey the vegetation and plant communities within Matura National Park ESA;  identify potential plant species or areas of concern; and  evaluate the extent of degradation and restoration needs of the plant communities.
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