Building capacity of Asa Wright Nature Centre to facilitate conservation, ecotourism and community development
The proposed project involves the enhancement of the capacity and capabilities of Asa Wright Nature Centre , to strengthen and execute its ongoing conservation education and community development programmes and its ecotourism operations. This project can also be considered a case study in Trinidad and Tobago as an exemplar of the use of ecotourism by an NGO to fund conservation action as well as a pilot in co-financing arrangements between a (multilateral) UNDP administered Small Grants Programme (SGP) and the national Green Fund.

Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC) is the owner and guardian for approximately 1,500 acres of forested land in the Arima/Blanchisseuse and Aripo Valleys in the Northern Range of Trinidad. The main facilities are located on a former cocoa-coffee-citrus plantation, Springhill Estate, once owned by Icelandic native, Mrs. Asa Wright. Former agricultural areas of the estate have since been reclaimed by secondary forest and significant parts of Springhill continue under primary rainforest as do adjacent areas of state lands. The Great House was originally built between 1906-1908, with subsequent buildings erected since 1967 to accommodate the growing demand for overnight guests and researchers. It evolved from an occasional guest house for spillover guests of the nearby Simla Research Station to a naturalists? haven renowned worldwide for bird watching (including the elusive Oilbird), eco-tourism and research.

A simultaneous and complementary project, the establishment of the Jonnie Fisk Conservation and Administration Centre (JFCAC), has been developed. This involves the expansion of a building which will facilitate the ongoing programmes of the Asa Wright Nature Centre. The JFCAC will build and strengthen the capacity and capabilities of AWNC to engage in on-site conservation education with schools, communities and the general public. It will facilitate integrated engagement with communities in the Arima/Blanchisseuse Valley for capacity development and skill training. The space will provide a retail outlet for products resulting from entrepreneurial and marketing arrangements with staff and communities within Arima/Blanchisseuse and adjacent Valleys. It can therefore be argued that the Jonnie Fisk Conservation and Administration Centre can act as a catalyst and mechanism for rural development.
It is intended to be co-funded by the Green Fund and the Asa Wright Nature Centre, with non-cash counterpart resources from its network. The development of the Jonnie Fisk Conservation and Administration Centre will be undertaken in phases and the implementation of the work plan will minimize restrictions and disturbance of ongoing operations.

The proposed project can contribute to national efforts towards biodiversity and watershed conservation, environmental education, economic diversification, poverty reduction and rural development. It is aligned with the national policy and planning framework as it relates to commitments to Multilateral Environmental Agreements e.g. UNCBD, NBSAP, UNFCCC, UNCCD National Action Programme. There is also a strong positive correlation between project outputs and outcomes and the GEF/SGP Country Programme Strategy, specifically: increased advocacy and education on environmental issues; capacity building and institutional strengthening; increased linkages between project activities and national initiatives and the inclusion of micro-enterprise components (the space will facilitate entrepreneurial and marketing arrangements and thus promote micro-enterprise development).

The key environmental areas that will be addressed through the enhanced capacity of Asa Wright Nature Centre to engage audiences are biodiversity conservation, integrated land management and watershed protection.
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
The Asa Wright Nature Centre
Country:
Trinidad and tobago
Area Of Work:
Biodiversity
Operational Phase:
Phase 5
Grant Amount:
US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 11,047.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 10,432.85
Project Number:
TRI/SGP/OP5/Y1/CORE/BD/12/09
Start Date:
7/2012
End Date:
6/2014
Status:
Currently under execution
Project Characteristics and Results
Notable Community Participation
25 community members participated from 6 communities
Promoting Public Awareness of Global Environment
Awareness was promoted through the Center's various education programmes.
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