The Effects of Climate Change on the Godineau River, Trinidad


The agriculture and food security of the Caribbean islands are being threatened by climate change and sea level rise. Trinidad, the most southern island of this region, is experiencing these effects, particularly in the Godineau River. The Godineau River plays a critical role as a source of fresh water for agriculture in the Godineau Watershed and supports the Godineau Swamp, which is a vital buffer from natural disasters. The river and swamp are an important habitat for numerous flora and fauna species, notably the national bird, the Scarlet Ibis. Additionally, the river creates employment, by supporting fisher folk who catch fish and crab and tour operators. A recent study found that salt water intrusion is affecting the mangroves in the swamp and possibly the surrounding soils (Atwell, Wuddivira and Gobin, 2016). Furthermore, anthropogenic activities such as the ongoing construction of a highway at the mouth of the Godineau River, are exacerbating the effects of climate change and sea level rise. To facilitate the construction of the highway, some mangrove was destroyed at the river’s mouth and as a result, severe flooding now occurs in times of heavy rainfall. In light of all of this, this study explores the impacts of climate change and sea level rise in the Godineau River from a qualitative standpoint, in an attempt to improve the country’s food security. Possible methods of mitigating against these impacts are suggested.


Kavita Ramnarine-Ramsawak, M.Sc.
Winston H.E. Suite, Ph.D.