In 1998, the Wildlife Trust funded a School Environmental Awareness Programme coordinated by environmental activist Wendy Yawching founder of Wildways Limited. The pilot programme involved three schools – Lakshmi Girls Hindu College in Tunapuna, Presentation College in San Fernando and Trinity College in Port of Spain. Via a series of supervised hikes in the forest, kayak expeditions into the Nariva Swamp and presentations in the classroom a total of 72 students was exposed to the state of the environment not only in Trinidad but in the wider world. The success of this pilot led to its expansion and sponsorship by other concerned corporate citizens.
The next year the Trust continued its drive to create awareness by staging an exhibition, “Natural Designs”, a celebration of the biological diversity of Trinidad & Tobago. This featured Guardian Life’s philatelic and numismatic collection which has an environmental theme and photographs covering more than forty years of scientific research by Professor Julian Kenny.
There were two main activities in 2000. The first was a collaborative venture with Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) in which two companion calling cards were produced. Two of the photographs from the Exhibition were selected: the iguana and water grass flower. These photographs were freely donated by Professor Kenny and for every card purchased, TSTT donates part of the proceeds to the Fund, which is in turn matched by Guardian Life.
In September of that same year Guardian Life Wildlife Trust Fund, in association with the Asa Wright Nature Centre and the Environmental Management Authority, launched the first three in a series of posters, again using a compendium of images from Professor Julian Kenny’s vast collection. The aim once again is to reach - and teach – using a visually attractive medium. These three initial posters focus on wildflowers, orchids and “nature’s mini monsters”. The posters are given free to schools and libraries. Proceeds from their sale otherwise is again matched by Guardian Life.
Guardian Life Wildlife Trust Fund has over the years assisted other environmental organizations such as the Friends of the Botanic Gardens; Emperor Valley Zoo; Trinidad & Tobago Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; Ministry of Agriculture; Grand Riviere Environmental Awareness Trust (G.R.E.A.T), Fishing Pond Environmental Group, South East Eco-tours and Nature Seekers Incorporated at Matura; the Fondes Amandes Community Re-forestation Project (FACRP) in underwriting the construction of a tour guide shelter at Fondes Amandes Hills, St. Ann’s. This community based organisation was begun in 1982 by the late Tacuma Jaramogi and his wife Akilah. First by themselves and later with the help of residents, this fire-prone grassland area has been transformed into a viable, fruit-bearing agro-forestry project. The members of FACRP work for the development of the community and the upliftment of residents through environmentally enhancing activities. Testimony to their success is that flooding during the rainy season and drought and fires during the dry season have become relics of the past. Spreading this community approach across the Northern range can serve to alleviate many of the environmental problems that are so common today.
Our most recent involvement is been the current work with the Pawi Project, a comprehensive communication programme aimed at educating nationals on the Pawi, and also to encourage protection of the bird which is now an endangered species; (See more details in article on Pawi Project )
Our forests are being destroyed by logging, slash and burn and quarrying; our swamps, among the richest ecological systems in the world, are considered expendable by some; some of our animal, bird and marine life are critically endangered. The Guardian Life Wildlife Trust will continue to play its part in looking after life!