Improving the Caroni Ramsar Nature Reserve – Reducing the impact of the Beetham Landfill and surroundings in Trinidad

The project entitled “Improving the Caroni Ramsar nature Reserve – Reducing the Impact of Beetham Landfill and Surroundings in Trinidad” was executed by a consortium led by the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean (BCRC-Caribbean) and comprised of TAUW bv and the Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL). This project was funded by the TAUW Foundation. The project sought to introduce and transfer knowledge on the available practices for determining the migration of litter, and to review the possibilities for pollution capture at the Beetham Landfill. This project comprised of four (4) phases:

  • Phase 1 – Site assessment and inventory of sources and pathways

A site assessment was carried out to identify pollution sources and pathways, develop affordable methods for leachate sampling and microplastic analysis, and generate comprehensive data on landfills near marine wetlands. The assessment included reviewing available information, conducting a topographic survey, and drafting a conceptual site model. The study focused on leachate dispersion from the landfill and pollution in the Caroni Swamp. The findings were compiled in a site assessment report, which includes a conceptual site model and geohydrological scheme.

  • Phase 2 – Conceptualize solutions for limiting impact on the Swamp

This Phase involved a review of the possibilities of existing technologies for capturing microplastics and sediments to reduce the impact of the Beetham Landfill. These solutions were nature-based, sustainable, in line with the landfill management’s main strategic plan and easy to maintain. After carrying out an assessment to select the best available technical solution, the selected technique was developed to a conceptual design for the leachate barrier system.

  • Phase 3 – Prepare funding package and outreach to funding organizations

To ensure follow-up on the proposed activities at the Beetham Landfill and the Caroni Swamp a funding package was prepared, which highlighted the need for action, possible solutions, and required resources. The package was shared with experts from international organizations and participants in international agreements. Meetings will be planned with appropriate funding organizations to increase the chances of securing funding opportunities in addition to marketing the project’s outcomes to international donors to seek funding for implementation of the follow-up.

  • Phase 4 – Presentation of the results and outreach to the region via an online workshop.

The project outcomes were shared virtually within the Caribbean region, via a  webinar hosted by the BCRC-Caribbean in collaboration with TAUW bv and SWMCOL, on June 29 2023.Ms. Rachel Ramsey of BCRC-Caribbean presented on the project details and the importance of executing a project of this nature in Small Island Developing States while Mr. van de Coterlet of TAUW bv provided details on the site investigations and the results of the project. He also explained the 6-phase remediation plan that was developed to holistically improve the situation in the project area. Ms. Shalina Rooplal of BCRC-Caribbean shared briefly on the next steps of the project and the advancing opportunities to secure funding through approaching relevant entities. Additionally, Ms. Maria Allong of SWMCOL also had the opportunity to present on the work being done to implement the solutions from the project.

The Findings

The findings of the project showed that some sections of the mangrove were in a seemingly healthy state while other sections were almost completely dead. Oil and tar discharge from the landfill had formed tar/oil deposits in several areas, around which all vegetation is dead. Black vulture colonies were observed in areas where vegetation was mostly dead. Vulture excreta can cause degradation of mangrove health due to high acidity. In the direct vicinity of the landfill, the sediments are severely contaminated with lead, zinc, arsenic, and copper, such that the concentrations can cause frequent adverse effects to the ecosystem. The area contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons is the most heavily polluted around the landfill.

The Solutions

The project concluded that rehabilitation of the Caroni Swamp should focus on different areas of the Swamp, and it should be conducted in consecutive phases:

  • Phase 1 – Development and implementation of improved management protocols at the Beetham Landfill
  • Phase 2 – Detailed site investigation
  • Phase 3 – Excavation and clean-up of the petroleum contaminated area
  • Phase 4 – Construction of drainage canals and nature-based solutions
  • Phase 5 – Commencement of Nature-based solutions
  • Phase 6 – Restoration of hydrological situation

The Next Steps

The BCRC-Caribbean, along with TAUW bv and SWMCOL intend to advance the work at the Beetham Landfill to facilitate the remediation activities. Following the submission of the final report to the TAUW Foundation, outreach activities will be conducted with key stakeholders as well as potential funding entities in an effort to secure the funding to advance the proposed works. Further details can be made available upon request to