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Coconut Trees – Manzanilla Stretch

Manzanilla Stretch Note the headless trees | 9 August 2009

Written by Geoffrey MacLean

I had not visited Mayaro for some months and braved the traffic in Valencia and Sangre Grande to see a friend last Sunday. The day was extremely enjoyable, but I was very concerned that many of the coconut trees on the Manzanilla Stretch appeared to be weak, dying or dead. The Manzanilla Stretch, that runs for several miles along Manzanilla Beach with coconut trees lining either side and skirting the Nariva Swamp, is a popular beauty spot of Trinidad and Tobago. The Nariva Swamp is home to blue and gold macaws and manatees. My greatest fears were confirmed in learning that throughout Trinidad the coconut trees are being attacked by a beetle that eats the heart of the tree – known as Red Ring disease – quickly killing it. I also learned that as new trees are not being planted, the older trees, with less resistance, are more susceptible to the disease, and therefore not being replaced.

As disturbing is the comment that in one individual’s view there is the possibility that within fifteen or so years, if the disease continues or is allowed to continue at its present rate, there will be no more coconuts to provide vendors with coconut water on the Queens Park Savannah – one of Port of Spain’s best-loved traditions.

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