The panel agreed that quarrying, hunting and forest fires were three of the greatest threats to T&T’s wildlife, and that although some laws are already in place and others are soon to be passed, inadequate law enforcement is currently one of the main barriers to conservation. The importance of biodiversity to humans through ecosystem services was also discussed, as was as the cultural value of many plant species that are used in local crafts, cooking and remedies.
Thursday 22nd May was the International Day for Biodiversity. As part of Trinidad’s celebrations, I was invited to take part in a panel discussion on biodiversity at an event at the local Green Market.
I was there in my capacity as a member of the Field Naturalists’ Club, as well as a biologist, and along with representatives from the National Herbarium, a local reforestation project and Birds Caribbean, we discussed the various issues surrounding T&T’s biodiversity and the reasons for conserving it. We also answered questions from the audience of market-goers, who paused to listen between browsing the wide range of local produce and crafts on offer.
After the discussion, we spent the rest of the morning talking with members of the public at our display booths. My display, which represented the Field Naturalists Club – a society of professional biologists and amateur naturalists that was founded in 1891 - was stocked with preserved animal specimens from the University Zoology Museum, a wide range of weird and wonderful seed pods, and posters and articles on local biodiversity. Certain species, such as the snake-like ‘zangee’ fish, or the so-called two-headed worm (which is in fact a legless lizard) always attract a lot of attention, as people know of these mysterious species but rarely have seen them and are keen to find out the truth about their natural history.
Just like the Field Naturalists’ Club, I firmly believe that one of the best ways to promote conservation of biodiversity is to encourage people to engage with, and learn more about, their local wildlife. Hopefully we made a small step in this direction at this event!
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