The Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC) was pleased to welcome the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, UN Resident Coordinator Joanna Kazana and UNDP Resident Representative Ugo Blanco and their delegations, and the Minister of Planning and Development, the Honourable Pennelope Beckles to the Spring Hill Estate on 02 July 2023. His Excellency was in country to celebrate the Caribbean Community’s 50th Anniversary.
At the Centre, they enjoyed spectacular views of the lush Arima Valley and the wonderful birds and vegetation around the Main House. They were also treated to a short tour along the Discovery Trail, expertly guided by Mukesh Ramdass and a delicious tasting menu of local cuisine prepared by HADCO Experiences.
The UN Secretary General and his delegation learnt about the work of the AWNC which includes the preservation of forests as a wildlife sanctuary in the Arima, Aripo and Guanapo valleys of the Northern Range in Trinidad and Tobago. The protected lands comprise mainly secondary forest and sequesters roughly 130,000 tonnes CO2. From decades of scientific research and conservation, more than 170 species of birds, 11 species of small mammals, 24 species of bats and 18 species of reptiles and amphibians were recorded at the AWNC. These include the endemic Trinidad stream frog and Trinidad motmot, three nationally designated Environmental Sensitive Species – the ocelot, Trinidad howler monkey and Trinidad Piping-guan, and the only accessible colony of oilbirds.
The AWNC also spoke about its commitment to scientific research through the operation of the Simla Field Research Station, named after famed naturalist William Beebe and after its donation by the New York Zoological Society (now Wildlife Conservation Society) to the AWNC in 1975, the Trust has continued the rich legacy of facilitating and encouraging local and international researchers, resulting in over 500 published papers.
We also highlighted our leadership role in environmental education, tackling environmental issues plaguing the Arima Valley especially illegal quarry, promoting compatible economic opportunities for the local communities and our pioneering involvement in ecotourism.
All photo credits: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe