My friends in our 50 years the Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust has initiated many FIRSTS in our twin-island Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.
In 1977/78 we initiated the FIRST Environmental Education audio-visual programme in T & T and this was taken to schools in town and country, throughout both islands.
In 1981, the PaPWFT introduced Nature & Wildlife Photography to the public of T&T at Artcreators, Coblentz Avenue so that we could raise funds for our work at the Trust. It was totally new to the public and I am pleased to say it was a complete success!
In 1982, the Trust presented the First Environmental Education Curriculum for schools to the Minister of Education of the Government of the day.
In 1983, the Trust initiated a Hands-On Environmental Education programme for primary & secondary schools which include outdoor field work; pond-dips; leaf & feather labs. By doing this, we brought the written word to LIFE and for the first time in our country we also initiated a special hands-on programme for pre-schoolers. Not even the little ones were forgotten!
Again in 1983, another FIRST! The PAPWFT designed the first Sea Turtle Recovery Plan for Trinidad & Tobago; not only patrolling the beaches on foot & tagging, yearly from 1979, but also with the help of both the National Security Helicopter and a commercial helicopter service, we were able to carryout the first aerial surveys of nesting turtles on the East & Northwestern coast for this Recovery Plan. In 1985 the Trust initiated Turtle Patrols @ Matura beach as part of our outreach environmental education programme for Secondary school students.
In 1989, the PAPWFT introduced education on Climate Change in the Trust’s school & community programmes.
In 1993, the PAPWFT successfully lobbied the Government of T&T to accede to the Ramsar Convention: The Trust presented a paper “Wetland Reserves & Public Awareness @ the 5th Ramsar conference of Contracting Parties, Kushiro, Japan, 1993; the first time a West Indian national, a ngo representative and a woman, was invited to do so.
In 2001, assisted by SOHOM (Spouses of the Heads of Missions) the Trust again, in another FIRST for our Country, provided a boardwalk around the Trust’s main breeding lake for the physically challenged and the elderly, our too often forgotten ones. We designed and we implement a special Environmental Therapy Programme for these people with special needs; including the mentally challenged, recovering addicts, battered women as well as the hearing and sight impaired. We open up a world of peace, beauty and education to people who normally would not be able to participate. Indeed my friends, the Blind do see @ the PaPWFT.
The list goes on and on. We have many other “FIRSTS” under our belts; like the creation in 1984 of T&T’s and the region’s FIRST truly interpretive trail for awareness & education of the value of our forests and their links to wetlands and the linkages with all LIFE. The trail was cut, big trees planted with the help of our Regiment, Coastguard and Forestry; signage and pictures were then added. Today, the trail is also up kept with the help of some of our Directors, here with us today, thank you.
And another interesting first was in 1987 and our journey to Toco with TTT (T&T Television) out on such a distant location for their first time, to film the work that we had been doing for months with the Scouts & Guides & the Community to clean-up the beaches and the public areas, restore the Toco Lighthouse and the environs. We had also been going to the schools in the area weekly on an Environmental Awareness & Education Programme.
Wonderful, factual stories, too long and too many to tell today; but suffice it to say, good satisfying memories.
Daily, as a part of our aviculture, research, breeding and release programmes, we bring back to T&T’s natural environment our endangered wetland species; which are our heritage.
We continue and will continue doing as we have done through the years; to promote the wise use of our Natural Resources as this is linked to the social & economic well-being of people; to raise awareness that all life is linked and interdependent; to research, breed and release, thousands of our birds back into their natural habitats here in Trinidad & Tobago, while at the same time educating our children and some adults that we must have pride in our Country and ourselves and to adopt the Trust’s Motto “TO KNOW IS TO LOVE TO LOVE IS TO PRESERVE”
For the PAPWFT, it has been a long road and not always an easy one, but, we have, so far, succeeded and we could not have done it without so many of you; some here with us today, some not with us, but always cherished and remembered. As we look toward the future, today, the celebration of the beginning of our 50th Anniversary, a Golden Year, is another dream come true.
Molly R. Gaskin, President, Pointe-a-Pierre Wildfowl Trust.