Chief Secretary hails Buccoo Reef climate change project

Nature needs help. That’s why initiatives like the climate change adaptation programme for the Buccoo Reef is important, according to THA Chief Secretary Orville London.

The US $692,000 pilot project for “an innovative approach to climate change in Tobago” was launched on Tuesday (23rd February) at the Buccoo Integrated Facility.

The project is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in collaboration with the Cropper Foundation, masman Peter Minshall and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA). Minshall will create two Carnival-like underwater sculptures of the Buccoo Reef over the next two years.

In delivering the keynote address, the Chief Secretary said the project is the work of meaningful collaboration of the IDB, the Cropper Foundation, Minshall, the Assembly and the people of Tobago, who he said “are preparing to get involved in a process which should have a significant impact on Tobago’s development”.

London said pressure is being put on the Reef, and added that the Assembly must support the process of protecting one of the island’s many natural treasures.

“In the Tobago context nature is under threat and the Buccoo Reef is under threat and anything that can be done to relieve that threat, to relieve the pressures that have been imposed on this Reef over the years, we have a responsibility to do it, whether it is erosion, pollution, storm damage, over exposure or insensitivity of people.”

London said this is one of the main reasons why the Assembly embraced the project.

London commended the IDB and the Cropper Foundation, saying the THA can take very little credit for the initiative.

“If they did not initiate it it would not have happened,” he said.

London said the Reef has both financial and environmental value for Tobago. He explained that in 2011, it was determined that Buccoo Reef brought the island between US $9 to 10 million per year. The Reef protects and prevents erosion where the damage would have cost over US$6 million a year in 2011, he added.

“When you have a situation where over 49 per cent of the tourists that come to Tobago go to the Reef, you will understand the potential of the Reef branding Tobago in a particular kind of way,” London stated.

IDB Senior Specialist on Climate Change Gerard Alleng said the bank is very concerned about climate change and will double its contribution of US$555,000 to the project by 2020.

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