Course:FRST370/2022/The Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project in Trinidad

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Summary of Case Study

This case study was done in order to examine the intersectional approaches and benefits of participatory forest management used in Trinidad's Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP). We analyze how, despite having an informal relationship with the government, the project has seen both social and economic success highlighting that legal recognition is no longer considered necessary by stakeholders like it once was. We outline the importance of economic, environmental, and management conditions that impacted how and why the reforestation project used participatory forest management as an effective compromise approach. Recommendations in qualitatively assessing the benefits of the project are provided based on an initial study conducted by CANARI in 2001.


Watershed restoration; Agroforestry; Caribbean; Participatory forest management; Intersectionality


General Description

The Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP) is an internationally recognized non-profit NGO located in the Fondes Amandes forest region in St Ann’s, Trinidad and Tobago - near the country’s capital Port of Spain.

The community-run forest conservation project consists of 125 acres of forest land, including a village where 120-140 people live. Around 90% of the people who work there are from Fondes Amandes and the St Ann’s area, and all of the supervising staff live in Fondes Amandes (CANARI, 2019).

The organization’s current mission is for the FACRP to act as an example, promoting sustainable community forestry by sharing knowledge and through partnerships. Their vision is for “a healthy agroforestry environment, providing sustainable livelihoods with expressions of multicultural traditions based on the FACRP participatory model of community forestry” (FACRP, n.d.).

The FACRP has a significant focus on education, spreading knowledge of their forestry and cultural practices to the local community and people from all over the world. The organization has formed many partnerships throughout the Caribbean, North and South America, Europe, and the South Pacific through conferences, workshops, and working with universities. Through these relationships, they have inspired and helped develop many other community-based initiatives (FACRP n,d.; Fox & Smith, 2016).


FACRP was founded in 1982 by Akilah and Tacuma (now deceased) Jaramogi (FACRP, n.d.). The couple both subscribed to the Rastafarian belief system, and were motivated by the Rasta values of nature and caring for the land to attempt to restore the forest of Fondes Amandes. At that time, people from the city often dumped and burned their refuse there (Fox & Smith, 2016). As a  result, the land had become degraded, leading to an unhealthy ecosystem that was ravaged by fires yearly. The region had become a “fire-climax zone”(FACRP, n.d.), which was a danger to the environment and surrounding communities. Thus, the FACRP was initially created with the goal of eliminating man-made forest fire risks. Another immediate goal of the Jaramogis was to plant trees to reforest the region and restore the land. Akilah and Tacuma began by traveling to the area during the night to put out fires as people dumped their waste and started the burns. Eventually, they moved on to the land and began “squatting”, that is, occupying the land although they did not own it, to be better able to prevent its further degradation. Along with some other young Rastafarians who shared their values and motivation, they began planting many kinds of trees and herbs. As the vegetation grew and the landscape was slowly restored, people eventually stopped dumping their waste there, as they could see and experience the benefits of reforestation. The FACRP became an officially registered NGO in 1999 under the Ministry of Community Development (Fox & Smith, 2016). It has also been registered as a non-profit company with the Ministry of Legal Affairs (FACRP, n.d.). In 2006, the FACRP created a formal board of directors, including members from within and outside the community, and created an organizational constitution. Since its founding, the project has successfully restored Fondes Amandes to a functional, healthy forest ecosystem and watershed, and the area has had no major fires since 1997 (Fox & Smith, 2016; FACRP, n.d.). Another incredibly important aspect of this project has been the restoration of the watershed and water supply. They have various systems in place to capture rainwater and to ensure the river is clean and healthy. Another member of the original community in Fondes Amandes emphasizes in Fox & Smith’s paper (2016) that the return of water to the area marked an incredibly important milestone, as water is crucial for all life - physical, environmental, and spiritual.

Current Activities

Currently, a great diversity of activities are conducted at FACRP. All of these activities are carefully run to eliminate any further land degradation, and to benefit the health of the watershed and community. These activities include:

  • Tree planting, organic gardening, and seedling propagation,
  • Forest fire prevention and suppression
  • Irrigation techniques and surface water management systems
  • Recycling & compost programs
  • Agroforestry and animal husbandry
  • Ecotourism,
  • Social activism
  • Cultural celebrations
  • Education and environmental awareness programs
  • Climate change research and facilitating regional and international student exchange programs.

(Fox & Smith, 2016; McDermott, n.d.; FACRP, n.d.)

Cultural activities have a large significance at FACRP, especially the annual Gayap, which is held at the beginning of the dry season in March, in memory of the late co-founder Tacuma Jaramogi. This is a three-day long event where many people come from the surrounding schools and community to pitch in and clear fire traces in the forest. It has also become an important time of environmental education and community outreach. There is much cooking and traditional music as the community comes together to work towards a shared goal (Fox & Smith, 2016).


The FACRP has indeed been recognized as a successful model of grassroots activism and participatory forest management in the Caribbean and beyond. They have won many awards on this account, including the following:

  • Presidents Humming Bird Gold Medal Award, 2017 (Trinidad and Tobago’s second-highest national award)
  • MEA Green Leaf Award for sustainability received, 2012
  • Women as Agents of Change Awards by the NGO network for the Empowerment of Women
  • Friends of the Commonwealth Awards 21st March 2010, 2007,
  • 15th Caribbean Gift and Craft Show, Best of Show Awards and 2004 Best Handcrafted Product, Runner up
  • 2000 Rotary Club Tidy T&T competition award (Nature Conservation and Best Overall Categories).

(FACRP n,d.; Fox & Smith, 2016)

Regional Contextual Background

Regional History

Historically, the Caribbean islands were first inhabited by Amerindian and Carib tribes from South America before European settlers imported slaves from Africa in the 15th century to work in agricultural plantations. The economic foundation of the Caribbean islands has dramatically shifted over time. Where agricultural product exports such as sugar and bananas previously were a foundational element to most islands’ economies, their importance has dramatically declined with 70 to 90% of food now being imported in favor of tourism. In order to accommodate the densely populated islands’ 200 to 300 people per square kilometer, most land suitable for agricultural production was cleared of its original forest cover. As the export of agricultural products has declined over time, these previously deforested areas are experiencing secondary forest growth as the island’s total forest cover continues to grow despite ongoing land use change from human development. Previously the Taungya system was used in Trinidad to provide degraded forest land to landless agricultural farmers who would grow and manage seedlings until the land was no longer viable for agricultural production. Most forests throughout Trinidad were typically owned by the government and managed by the state forest administration (Leotaud, N., 2014). In recent decades, forest administrators have come to the realization that managing and protecting forests through the use of user licenses and enforcement alone is not feasible leading to the exploration and implementation of alternative practices such as participatory forest management (Krishnarayan, V., 2002).

Water Accessibility

Trinidadian forests supply a multitude of non-timber forest products, the most important of which is water (Leotaud, N., 2014). Though the fear of water accessibility and supply issues is a constant concern, there is currently little evidence correlating it with watershed management, leaving room for future studies (Krishnarayan, V., 2002). Water policy has greatly been affected by differences in the perception of water supply between residents of suburban Port of Spain and other island residents. As the population of Trinidad grows, the demand for water and supportive infrastructure is expected to as well. This increase in development alongside population has created concern for continued deforestation in order to meet growing demand. Concerns have also been raised about the lack of overarching policies or governing mechanisms to organize and coordinate management approaches (Krishnarayan, V., 2002).

Participatory Forest Management

Participatory forest management is an approach to managing forest resources that involves the active participation and collaboration of local communities, indigenous groups, and other stakeholders in the decision-making process. This approach recognizes that forests are a valuable resource for local communities, and that the people who live and work in and around the forest have a deep understanding of the ecosystem and how to sustainably manage it. Participatory forest management engages all stakeholders in a range of activities. This includes the development of forest management plans, the establishment of user groups, and community-based organizations, the implementation of sustainable harvesting practices, and local communities enforcing forest management policies. It’s important to recognize that forest user groups don't manage land solely out of altruism. Stakeholders are far more likely to support group efforts if their individual needs are being met (McDermott, M. H.). The longevity and success of PFM is largely reliant on group communication and trust among various actors arguably equally important as strong legal foundations. The goal of participatory forest management is to ensure that the forest is managed in a way that meets the needs of both local communities and the broader society, while also conserving the forest ecosystem for future generations (Leotaud, N., 2014).

Economic and Land Use Statistics

Trinidad and Tobago Forest resource management statistics sourced in 2003 (Lyndon, J., 2005):

  • GDP per capita in 1997: 4119$USD
  • Total land area: 513 (‘000 ha)
  • Total forest area: 259 (‘000 ha)
  • Forest as % of land area: 50.5
  • Forest plantations: 15(‘000 ha)
  • Annual forest cover change 1990-2000: -2 (‘000 ha)
  • Annual rate of change percentage: -0.8

Trinidad and Tobago poverty indicator statistics sourced in 1999 (Lyndon, J., 2005):

  • % below the poverty line: 25.9
  • % below indigence line: 3.2
  • Poverty gap: 5.7

Legal and administrative framework

The framework system surrounding the FACRP consists of informal agreements and recognitions granted by the Trinidadian government that allows the FACRP workers access to the land, as well as guaranteeing to them that there is no risk of eviction. The Fondes Amandes Reforestation Project was recognized by the government even before it was granted formal permission, and from there it was allowed to develop and begin working to restore the watershed and forest ecosystems (Leotaud & Eckelmann). The government does own/have the rights to most of the land in the Fondes Amandes, but has allowed the FACRP to conduct activities on said land due to the overall positive impacts for both the environment and the community that has been observed. There are a few governmental divisions and authorities involved with the management of the land and water in the Fondes Amandes. The Forestry Division (Forestry) manages all forested state lands and has enforcement responsibilities that also extend to private forests. The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) maintains and oversees the reservoirs in lower watersheds, manages state-owned and operated public water supply systems, and is the primary abstractor of water in the watershed. The Ministry of Public Utilities and the Environment manages both the Forestry Division and WASA (Lock & Geoghehan, 2006). The community receives benefits and support from the government and Non governmental organizations, while still driving the co-management relationship and making most management decisions. Most groups that were previously vying for formalized relationships with the government in Trinidad have since changed positions as their informal relationship does not hinder or act as insecurity to the work being done. However, due to this informal co-management relationship that is not formally outlined in legal documentation, it is unclear which of the bundle of rights the FACRP has access to, if any.

Affected Stakeholders

The Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project in Trinidad has a wide variety of affected stakeholders. The affected stakeholders are those that are directly impacted by the activities in the FACRP and are also often the ones who are impacted the most, be it in a positive or negative way. The affected stakeholders of the FACRP include the community members of Fondes Amandes and  St. Ann’s, the FACRP board, staff, and workers, visitors to the project, schools, and those who use the adjacent river for recreation. These are the groups that are the most closely connected to the Fondes Amandes watershed, and rely on it not only to sustain their livelihoods but rely on it as a critical pool of natural resources and ecosystem services.

Fondes Amandes and St Ann's Community Members

The community members of the Fondes Amandes and St. Ann’s are without a doubt the main group of individuals who would be most affected by the FACRP’s activities in the region. The impacts that this project has on the surrounding ecosystem and watersheds have a directly linked impact on the communities through ecosystem services, water quality, and resource access. They rely on the resources provided by the forest to support their livelihoods, and further degradation of these resources would have a significant impact on their standard of living. Because of the FACRP, natural assets are improved by enhancing the health and diversity of the Fondes Amandes watershed, which in turn provides increased ecosystem services, and enhances the security of local natural resources by preventing their degradation over time. Additionally, the community benefits from the improvement of physical assets through the development of project infrastructure and equipment that is needed to manage the FACRP.

FACRP Board, Staff and workers

The next group of affected stakeholders is the FACRP board, staff, and all workers associated with the project. Due to their active involvement with the management, upkeep, and ongoing restoration work in both the watershed and surrounding forests, it makes sense that the people who compose the organization overseeing the Fondes Amandes Community Restoration Project also have a lot on the line. They all depend on the long-standing success of the project in order to not only bring benefits to the community but also to support their livelihoods.

Schools, visitors and recreational users

Schools, visitors, and those who use the area for recreation are also affected stakeholders because the health of the forest and watersheds directly impacts the access that they have to this region. There is not much to discuss with these groups, as they are not as directly impacted as others, and these groups are much more loosely defined, but they should still be considered stakeholders with something to gain or lose since they derive entertainment and educational value from the Fondes Amandes watershed and forests.

The main relative objectives of these groups are to ensure the sustained, continuous health of the forest and watershed ecosystems, and to ensure that the benefits derived from commodity goods and ecosystem services are distributed throughout the community to all its members. In this case, it is the community members who have a larger role to play in the management and governance of this project, as it is largely community-based. This gives them a good deal of decision-making power since they have an informally recognized agreement with the Trinidadian government that guarantees they won’t be evicted from the land. While the community continues to be partnered with the government and NGOs, they are largely responsible for the management and operational decisions being made, while still benefiting from governmental support.

Interested Stakeholders

The interested stakeholder groups of the FACRP include the National Reforestation and Watershed Rehabilitation Programme (NRWRP), the Green Fund, the Forestry Division, the Community Forestry Unit, the Water and Sewage Authority, the Fire Service, the Environmental Management Authority, the Tropical Re-Leaf Foundation, other NGO’s and CBO’s, donors, and other governmental organizations.

The Green Fund and the Tropical Re-Leaf Foundation

The Green Fund and the Tropical Re-Leaf Foundation are examples of interested stakeholders with interest in supporting the FACRP in the long term. They are non governmental organizations, and play a key role in supporting the FACRP and similar projects. The Green Fund is responsible for managing a fund collected from business levies to provide grants to civil society organizations and some statutory agencies engaged in activities related to remediation, reforestation, and preservation of the environment (McDermott, M. H.). The Tropical Re-Leaf Foundation is responsible for promoting reforestation through ‘community action’, and played an intermediary and capacity building role for early FACRP initiatives (McDermott, n.d.).

The NRWRP, Forestry Division, Water and Sewage Authority (WASA), Environmental Management Authority, and the Community Forestry Unit

The NRWRP, Forestry Division, Water and Sewage Authority (WASA), Environmental Management Authority, and the Community Forestry Unit are examples of interested stakeholders that are government based, and have a more direct role in managing the FACRP. The NRWRP is responsible for replanting 33,030 acres of forest land over a 10 year period, including 11,000  acres in watersheds (McDermott, M. H.). Objectives include biodiversity preservation, flood reduction, watershed enhancement, community involvement in sustainable development, and increasing food production through agroforestry. The WASA is responsible for operating the state owned and managed water supply and sewerage system, and is also responsible for protecting watersheds and reservoirs (McDermott, M. H.). The Community Forestry Unit is responsible for the implementation of forest policy and the management of state forest lands, and also supports and regulates forest management on private lands (McDermott, n.d.).

Social Intersectionality

Intersectionality describes the complex way that various forms of discrimination, such as racial, gender, sexuality, religion, class, or disability, overlap (Merriam-Webster, 2022). This is especially relevant for marginalized groups which experience discrimination on multiple fronts. Intersectionality is intrinsic to the FACRP as it was founded by Afro-Caribbean Rastafarians, whose religious and political views heavily influenced the organization, and it is currently run in large part by women. Although not all members of the FACRP share the same beliefs, they all unite on their views on land stewardship. The intersectionality of the project is one reason it is so successful, as it is positioned well to cause social change. Because of this, the organization has been linked to and involved with various social movements in Trinidad and Tobago, the main four being the Rastafari movement, the Black Power movement, the Women’s movement, and of course the environmental movement (Fox & Smith, 2016).

Rastafari Movement

Akilah (co-founder and CEO) and many of the community members subscribe to the Rastafari system of religious beliefs, and part of the motivation to create the FACRP was to provide a place where they and other Rastafarians could live in harmony with the land, and be free from the oppression and discrimination they faced in the colonially and Western-influenced cities (Fox & Smith, 2016). Rastafari is a religious and political movement with roots in Christianity, mysticism, and a pan-African consciousness. It grew out of Jamaica in the 1930s in response to the displacement of enslaved African people and the continued “downpression” ( term used instead of oppression) they face. Among their principles is the concept of “livity”, which describes the lifestyle of wearing hair in natural, long locks, dressing in red, green, gold and black, and eating a natural vegetarian diet (referred to as I-tal) (McAlister, 2022). Water is also very spiritually significant to Rastafarians, and the rains returning and filling up the river and watershed again was very significant to Akilah and the other Rastafarian community members (Fox & Smith, 2016). These principles influence the way of life in the village at FACRP, as well as the management decisions of the organization.

Balck Power Movement

Akilah is Merikin (Merikins are “descendants of former African American slaves from the southern states, mainly Virginia and Georgia, who fought on the British side during the British- American war in exchange for their freedom” who were given land in the Caribbean colonies) and grew up on this given land that had been passed down. Her upbringing and culture influence her positionality and social motivations, as well as her traditional knowledge and technique of land management and agroforestry, and by extension, the way the FACRP approaches food, medicine, and land stewardship (Mulroy, 2021). The organization holds various cultural celebrations and events and educates school children to keep Afro-Caribbean cultural practices alive.

Women's Movement

Even within Rastafari and the Black Power movement, men’s voices and opinions are typically given more weight than women’s and there is still oppression present for the women that belong to these groups, from within and outside of the group itself (Mulroy, 2016). The FACRP being run by a Rastafarian Black Woman challenges these patriarchal ways of thinking, and Akilah’s management of the project is a great example of how powerful Black women and Rastafarian women can be. Additionally, Akilah and the other women involved with FACRP continually have to fight for their voices to be heard and respected within the male-dominated field of forestry, in which in other places in the country, women are not often found, let alone in positions of leadership. Akilah describes the unique space women occupy in Fox & Smith’s 2016 paper:

“Women have been and continue to play a major role in environmental preservation in Trinidad and Tobago. Traditionally, women have been in touch with nature as they depended strongly on its resources as a means of sustainable living and healing. As a child, my mother taught me how to use herbs as bush medicine. That has been passed down many generations. This knowledge is now used by women who are presently strongly engaged in decision-making as they are key stakeholders in the mobilization of ngos, cbos, and civil society groups who play a major role in the preservation of the environment and lobbying for constitutional change surrounding environmental policies and issues.” (pg 156)

Environmental Movement

A forest conservation project is clearly an environmental project, and the FACRP is certainly a significant organization in the environmental movement in Trinidad. From its foundation by co-founders squatting on the land to stop the degradation - an overt act of social and environmental protest - the organization has been vocal about educating people on the importance of having a healthy watershed ecosystem. Since even before the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created, the FACRP has been working towards many of them, such as Good health and well-being; Quality education; Gender equality; Clean water and sanitation; Climate action; and more (Mulroy, 2021). More recently, they have partnered with post-secondary institutions to conduct climate change adaptation and resilience research, as well as presenting their approach to forest management at many conferences around the world. (FACRP, n.d.)

As Mulroy (2021) put it, “it is precisely because of [Akilah’s] Merikin roots, her spiritual values, and her experience as a woman and mother that she is able to implement intersectional strategies through FACRP to address environmental degradation and climate change locally, within the Caribbean region, and globally as well”.



In the nearly four decades the FACRP has been in operation, it has greatly benefited the community in Fondes Amandes and beyond, and has created many social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits.It has been found specifically that community-based organization built into watershed management strategies correlates strongly to greater benefits experienced by the community. Some of the benefits experienced by the community as a result of th eFACRP and a healthy watershed include:

  • Ecosystem services
  • Improved water access
  • Access and security of natural resources
  • Increased awareness and care for environmental issues
  • Skill development, training and employment
  • Empowerment of women and youth
  • Academic partnerships
  • Cultural and community connection through arts
  • Increased community pride and personal self-esteem
  • Increased financial assets
  • Infrastructure and equipment, as well as continued advocacy for infrastructure improvement
  • FACRP influences perspectives of other agencies and policy makers, creating more community-focused policy

(McDermott, n.d.; Mulroy, 2021; Canari, 2019).


Although the project has been largely successful, and greatly benefitted the surrounding area, there are still some challenges the FACRP faces.For one, even though villager employees receive a salary from the Trinidad and Tobago Forestry division, they get paid significantly less that government workers receive for the same work in other regions of Trinidad and Tobago, sometimes even going months without being paid. Another challenge the FACRP faces is that the land is technically government-owned. Although this doesn’t generally impede the ability of the project to carry out its work, some members wish for Fondes Amandes to receive official protection, to ensure the security and longevity of the project and community (Fox & Smith, 2016). Some other possible issues that could threaten the project include housing development encroaching into forest lands, dry season fires, mining, and poor soil and water practices on nearby agricultural lands (Lock & Geoghehan, 2006).


Though initial research was conducted by CANARI to assess the quality of life improvements attributed to PFM for local communities, author Leotaud (2009) concluded that further quantitative assessments were required to definitively state if PFM is the cause of observed qualitative improvements. We agree that the development of a standardized quantitative assessment of PFM’s implementation is a valuable step in improving the successes by highlighting the shortcomings of the FACRP. On top of improving retrospective analysis, we also recommend further investment into modeling and planning tools to assess future climate variability that could influence management approaches. We understand the passing of management knowledge and skills to be integral for the future success of the project, that is why we recommend continued investment into workshops that build forest and business management skills to strengthen both the local economy and environment. The importance of community enterprises frequently fail to materialize despite having many ambitious business ideas due to lack of skills to assess and create feasible structured business plans (Leotaud, N., 2014). We believe the FACRP should shift focus to more global engagement campaigns through the use of social media to increase awareness about the project's efforts. Though they have an official youtube page with 24 videos, the last two videos were uploaded 2 and 6 years ago respectively. Increasing focus on social media engagement and diversifying the types of platforms used can help cement awareness in younger generations outside of the current local school outreach programs. Though the members of the community have customary rights we recommend the continued pursuit of legal recognition by Trinidadain government to eliminate concerns over the precarious nature of the squatting community.

The Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR) located in Guatemala is a similar community forest case study that we believe offers a strong framework for developing value chains for NTFPs. While the local community is able to sell NTFPs from the FACRP site, we believe that the lessons learned from selling xate palms in the MBR would increase income directed to the local community while ensuring that resource extraction does not exceed a critical threshold that wouldn't compromise the sites environmental integrity (Bulkan, 2022).

Gaps in Knowledge

We struggled to find ample coverage of current challenges the FACRP are facing within existing policy frameworks and government relations. Either continued research or media coverage would be beneficial to addressing possible concerns.


Although the benefits resulting from PFM will take longer to quantify, for now it appears that PFM has proven to be a successful and sustainable method for engaging local communities in conservation and restoration efforts. Through the intersectional involvement of local stakeholders in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of the site, the project has not only resulted in the continued successful regeneration of the forest but is responsible for increased socioeconomic benefits received by the local community (McDermott, M. H.). This holistic investment into the land has contributed to the long-term sustainability of the project, ensuring that the restored forest will continue to provide benefits to both the local community and the broader environment. Overall, the success of the Fondes Amandes project highlights the potential for participatory forest management to serve as a model for other community-led efforts to sustainably conserve and restore forests around the world.


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Hosein, G. J. (2014). Earth, water, woman: Community & sustainability in Trinidad. American Anthropologist, 116(4), 858–859.

Krishnarayan, V., & Pantin, D. (2002). Incentives for watershed management in Trinidad: Results of a brief diagnostic. CANARI Technical Report, No. 316.

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Mulroy, R. (2021). From glass ceiling to green canopy: An intersectional model of feminist sustainability in Fondes Amandes, Trinidad. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 22(5), 347–375.

The Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP). (n.d.). [NGO Website].

Theme: Community Forestry
Country: Trinidad and Tobago
City: Fondes Amandes, St Ann's

This conservation resource was created by Rebecca Gittens, Callum McCaffrey and Nathan Bears.
It is shared under a CC-BY 4.0.