Background and rationale
The Ministry of Planning, Housing and the Environment (formerly Ministry of Public Utilities and the Environment) of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago contracted CANARI n April 2007 to facilitate a process for the participatory development of new national forest and protected areas policies.

Trinidad and Tobago has been involved in forest and protected area management since 1765 when the Main Ridge in Tobago was declared a forest reserve, the oldest protected forest reserve in the Western Hemisphere. An official forest policy was developed in 1942, and draft policies in 1979, 1981 and 1998. However, these later drafts were never formally approved and hence the country’s forest resources have continued to be managed by the outdated 1942 document. Over the years, many protected areas have been designated under various pieces of national legislation but the existing policy environment is highly complex and fragmented, creating the need to harmonise and rationalise the different categories of protected areas designation through a single unified policy.

The Cabinet also appointed a multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary Technical Advisory Committee, drawn from academia, the private sector, civil society and government agencies to provide overall guidance and technical support to the participatory formulation process. This Committee played a key role in reviewing and advising on revisions to draft policies throughout the process. Technical assistance was also provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Process
CANARI facilitated a participatory process to develop these two policies which included:

  1. Desk review of existing policy statements on forests and protected areas.
  2. Sectoral consultations in Trinidad (with the Forestry Division, other public sector agencies, civil society and academia) and a multi-sectoral consultation in Tobago;
  3. Meetings of the Technical Advisory Committee to review inputs from the consultations and advise on key aspects of the policies..
  4. Review and approval of the policies by Cabinet.
  5. Public consultations and input from stakeholders on the Cabinet-approved drafts of the two policies (ongoing).
  6. Final approval by Cabinet (future)

Outcomes
The two new national policies produced through this participatory process are intended to provide guidance for forest and protected area management in Trinidad and Tobago and the basis for more detailed plans. The intention is that the policies should be reviewed in ten years. Additionally, the process is expected to result in:

  • negotiated agreements on key issues;
  • an agenda for further policy research on outstanding and emerging issues;
  • a greater awareness of protected area policy issues and objectives among a wide sector in society;
  • improved communication and collaboration among forest and protected area stakeholders and other key stakeholders; and
  • recommendations on institutional arrangements for the management of forest and protected