Local conservation management agencies, the Turks and Caicos National Trust (TCNT) and the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR), will be spearheading activities under the theme ‘Wetlands and Climate Change’. A very significant highlight for wetlands conservation this year is the launch of a very prestigious project that will focus on wetlands in Providenciales.
The UK Government’s Darwin Plus initiative funding agency has just announced funding for 17 conservation projects worth more than £3.5 million in the UK Overseas Territories to deliver commitments in a 25 Year Environment Plan.
Of these 17 projects, the Turks and Caicos Islands along with two other Caribbean UK Overseas Territories, Anguilla and Montserrat will benefit from one cross territory project to protect four wetland sites. The Turks and Caicos component of the project will focus on the Wheeland Ponds in Providenciales. Local conservation partners have identified the Wheeland Ponds as a critical ecological site and have organized annual World Wetlands Day activities around the ponds for the past five years.
The project is timely in that the Office of the Premier recently launched the country’s Climate Change Initiative with the completion of the territory’s first climate change policy. The wetlands project also fits squarely within the remit of the Trust and the organization’s heritage protection and sustainable development goals for 2019.
Caribbean wetlands are very important ecological sites. They provide habitat for birds, nursery for juvenile fish, and other services such as protection from flooding and storm surges. Yet our wetlands face threats. Threats from illegal dumping, excavation and backfilling. These unhealthy activities contribute to the destruction and degradation of wetlands.
The National Trust is indeed elated to participate in such an esteemed project which is intended to raise the level of awareness towards the ecological services provided by our wetlands, develop management plans, implement action plans to restore wetlands and enhance terrestrial boundaries by installing informative signage. Other outputs from the project are; to sensitize and mobilize communities neighboring wetlands to become involved in wise management of such ecosystems and reap the benefits of sustainable management of wetlands in the Turks and Caicos Islands with off shoots of entrepreneurial initiatives.
The wetlands project is indeed an opportunity for citizens and residents of the Turks and Caicos to learn more about this particular ecosystem and appreciate the wonderful natural world of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Twin Islands North and Middle Caicos are teeming with wetlands and wildlife; a fitting place to celebrate World Wetlands Day, activities of which were observed on February 1st & 2nd, 2019.
The two-day observance included school talk and field study which involved Primary and High School students, along with community volunteers, staff of the Turks & Caicos National Trust and DECR. Aside from highlighting the importance of wetlands to TCI’s ecology, participants were educated about the plight of our Rock Iguanas, under the theme: “Wetlands and Climate Change: Its impact on our endemic Rock Iguanas”.
On Friday, February 1st, the day was spent in the classrooms on North and Middle Caicos, educating our students about wetlands and the affects that climate change may have on the environment and our wildlife. Students were engaged with a fun activity with information about the wetlands and its impact on the rock iguanas’ habitats. They were then quizzed with questions designed from the information provided.
On the next day, February 2nd, the team spent the day in the field as students participated in a survey exercise. There were discussion and activities that were designed to teach Iguana etiquette, their habitat and the impact that climate change has on their ever changing habitats.
This collaboration between the National Trust and DECR is sponsored by the UK-funded Darwin Plus Project with its flagship initiative ‘Saving the Iguana Islands of the Turks and Caicos Islands’ Project.
The Turks and Caicos Islands on February 2nd, 2019, will join the rest of the world in commemorating World Wetlands Day. Local conservation management agencies, the Turks and Caicos National Trust (TCNT) and the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR), will be spearheading activities under the theme ‘Wetlands and Climate Change’ (we invite the public to follow our Facebook page www.facebook.com/ticnationaltrust, and website www.tcnationaltrust.org to learn more about the activities). A very significant highlight for wetlands conservation this year is the launch of a very prestigious project that will focus on wetlands in Providenciales.
The Turks & Caicos National Trust exist to safeguard the cultural, historical and natural heritage of the Turks and Caicos Islands. This mission is accomplished through the design and implementation of projects and programmes, involvement of the public and support of partners.
Two critical 3-year projects, in which the National Trust partners with government agencies, private sector and international conservation agencies are the ‘Securing Pockets of Paradise in the Caribbean; embedding capacity for Invasive Alien Species Management in UKOT based organisations,’ funded by the EU-Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories (BEST) project, and ‘Saving the Iguana Islands of Turks and Caicos project,’- funded by the UK Government Darwin Plus Initiative.
The aims are similar in both projects, that is; working towards eradication and control of invasive alien species through public awareness, capacity strengthening in local organization partners and conservation management.
The most recent project activities took place during mid-October through to November 2018, focusing on biosecurity trials. Monitoring activities were conducted on Big Ambergris Cay and Little Water Cay, with oversight by team specialists. The team recognizes and appreciates the support of Waterloo Investments Holdings Ltd., the company that owns Big Ambergris Cay, which holds the biggest populations of both the endemic rock iguana Cyclura carinata (Critically Endangered) and the endemic rainbow boa Chilabothrus chrysogatser (not yet assessed).
Little Water Cay staff participated in the biosecurity trials which involved constructing wooden bait stations for rodents. These stations have been placed on location to determine whether rodents prefer wooden bait stations over plastic stations, and ground-based stations over raised stations. Species activities will be monitored very closely and information fed into the biosecurity plan.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is the lead agency in both projects and a long standing partner to the National Trust. The National Trust was also very pleased to assist in coordinating high-level meetings for the RSPB with key partners and with the Minister for Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Maritime and Gaming during this reporting period.
It was indeed gratifying working alongside RSPB representatives on yet another exhilarating phase of the project, and in particular to welcome Mr. Charlie Butt, Caribbean Territories Programme Manager to Turks and Caicos on his first visit. It was more of a reconnaissance mission for Mr. Butt, as he had recently taken up the position at RSPB.
“The Turks and Caicos Islands are home to an extraordinary array of unique and iconic species and natural habitats. It is encouraging to see so many important sites - from wetlands to tropical dry forest - and the homes for wildlife they provide intact, thanks to the partnership work and efforts of so many individuals and organisations” Charlie said, adding that “the RSPB looks forward to deepening its engagement with partners in the Turks and Caicos to ensure these special places are conserved for the wildlife they support and for generations to come.”
The Trust looks forward to continued support from the Ministry for Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Maritime and Gaming throughout the duration of the projects and beyond in safeguarding national treasures, and will strive to forge lasting relationships with international, regional and local agencies to showcase the significance of the Trust’s work in global conservation.
For the period April to September 2018, the Turks & Caicos National Trust has had an intense period of activity that drove and managed improvements across all areas of the organization. Managing heritage sites and public engagement efforts have shown significant results which benefit the organization and the country at large.
A strengthened awareness of TCI’s biodiversity was achieved through the Education and Outreach programme, which mainly comprised of activities through current conservation projects, namely ‘Saving the Iguana islands of TCI Project’ and the ‘Securing Pockets of Paradise in the Caribbean’ - both three (3) -year projects.
There were eight activities organized and executed throughout three islands during the reporting period. The National Trust Education and Outreach staff managed to conduct six school visits to schools on three islands during the reporting period. The staff also coordinated and facilitated a field trip to Half Moon Bay for students through the DARWIN PLUS – ‘Saving the Iguana Islands of Turks and Caicos Project’. Through our public awareness programme, schools are encouraged to visit heritage sites to enable students and teachers an authentic experience of learning about TCI’s heritage. During this reporting period, more than 800 students and teachers visited four heritage sites, namely; Cheshire Hall Plantation Historic Site, Wade’s Green Plantation Ruins, Conch Bar Caves and Little Water Cay Nature Reserve. In respect to the Youth Empowerment Programme, there will be much more to report on in the upcoming quarters, however, the Trust has accepted a proposal from one student of the Holy Family Christian School to implement a community conservation project in partnership with the Trust. Activities include field trips, design and production of posters, design and production of retail merchandise with conservation slogans and schools visitation to establish conservation clubs.
On the scientific side, the team working with the Darwin Initiative, has successfully established effective controls and biosecurity on Little Water Cay and Big Ambergris Cay to provide safe havens for the rock iguanas as well as surveying to better understand them. In this regard, field staff has received conservation management trainings facilitated by scientists from San Diego Zoo. Also, a privately-funded project will begin in April 2019. This aims to remove all rodents and feral cats from Iguana Island, and the adjoining Water Cay and Pine Cay, creating more suitable predator-free habitat for the iguanas.
Marketing-wise, during the first six months of the institutional year, the National Trust has engaged in many promotional activities which range from social media presence to setting up booths on strategic marketing places throughout the islands. TCNT Facebook followers increased by 8.32% from September of 2017 and numbers are steadily increasing.
TCNT has print and on-air media presence as our staple Radio show ‘Heritage Corner’ continues to be aired weekly and articles featured regularly in the Where When How Magazine. The April-June edition featured the article ‘A Beautiful Karst- Conch Bar Caves’. Subsequently, the organization has published six (6) press releases covering key events organized and implement by TCNT from April to August 2018. Among the most notable activities are the tree-planting on Earth Day, beach cleanup in Five Cays on Biodiversity Day and the celebration of our Ancestors on Emancipation Day held at Cheshire Hall Plantation.
The public can expect to see more about the National Trust as TCNT’s marketing arm has produced a new brochure designed for promoting heritage sites, visitor questionnaire designed to monitor service performance and a promotional video highlighting the best scenes of TCNT’s heritage sites and service products.
Remaining among the top priorities within the Trust is monitoring heritage sites as these are also important ecological habitats. There were about nine monitoring visits to heritage sites conducted for this reporting period. Reviewing of management plans for heritage sites will form part of the training sessions. The National Trust management saw fit to initiate new project management policies and procedures to improve accountability and communication between the Trust and international partners. Currently 100% of the projects implemented by TCNT are biodiversity/conservation management based. Other areas of training underway are internal administrative procedures and policies.
In keeping with its mandate to safeguard the heritage of the Turks & Caicos Islands, TCNT is pleased to report that the organization has updated its assets list to reflect recent properties acquired by the Trust for the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The document ‘TCNT Holdings’ will be used as a training tool for Trust employees and to disseminate information to the public of properties held in perpetuity for present and future generations of Turks and Caicos Islanders.
Improvement in the management and monitoring of the TCNT small business development programme is ongoing. Areas warrant strengthening have been identified and work is in progress. Designs for new line items have been selected and workshops are slated to commence in the month of November 2018. Information is being collected to create a profile for each artisan who will be benefitting from any assistance being provided through the National Trust’s small business development and management programme.
Financially, the Trust is confident of meeting expectations for the financial year. Overall, income has increased by 15k in comparison to last period, in part due to the additional $10k from TCIG and increased site tickets sales.
The Trust looks forward to another productive 6 months ending March 31, 2019.
A long-standing local tradition, the Emancipation Day celebration took place on August 1st, 2018 under the theme, “Honouring the Ancestors: Celebrating the unbreakable spirit and tenacity of the People of the Turks & Caicos Islands.”
The local commemoration of what is known throughout the Caribbean as “August Monday” was observed through authentic African Drumming, cultural dance, poetry, spoken words, and local music.
Cheshire Hall Plantation on Providenciales, provided the perfect venue for the event – a 200-year old historical site which was both home and the place of work for thousands of plantation slaves back in the 18th century. Dr. Dellareese Higgs, Education Manager at TCNT told guests, “This plantation should remind us of our ancestors who toiled on this soil, and created a history filled with pride and ingenuity in their quest for survival. We are the roots, the lineage of these great people.”
The observance celebrated freedom and achievements, and encouraged participants as well as spectators from all over the island about continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.
Coordinated by cultural enthusiast and artist Mr. David Bowen, and executed through the collaboration between the Turks & Caicos National Trust, Turks & Caicos Museum and the Department of Culture, activities were centred upon the theme – with the spiritual walk and prayers at the ‘Great House’ as one of the highlights.
Among the performers were: Sea Breeze Rip Saw Band, TUCA Cultural Group & Drummers, Sara Goldsmith & Negro Spiritual Choir; Spoken Word Artists: Cora Malcolm, Derek Rolle, Beth Atkins, Levinia Bishop & Steven Wilson.
The event, a celebration of 180 years of freedom, was attended by the Premier, Hon. Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Hon. Karen Malcolm, Minister responsible for Education, Youth, Culture and Library Services, and Hon. Ralph Higgs Minister responsible for Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Maritime and Gaming.
Pastor Goldston Williams ended the event with a prayer uplifting the people of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands and paying homage to the ancestors who paved the way and left behind a legacy to be proud of.
On June 5th every year, the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations and thousands of global communities and organizations celebrate World Environment Day.
This year, the theme of the Day is “Beat plastic pollution” – a call for action for the world to work together to address one of the great environmental challenges of our time and raise global awareness of the need to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on people’s health and the threat it poses to the environment and wildlife.
Through on-going projects, BEST and Darwin, the Turks & Caicos National Trust (TCNT) sponsored a trip to Half Moon Bay and Little Water Cay to celebrate World Environment Day.
A group of students from Long Bay High School, along with some teachers, participated. These students had initially been surveyed by TCNT’s Public Awareness Officer in February to gauge their knowledge of the dangers facing our Rock Iguanas. These students will be surveyed again at the end of the project in 2020, to complete the education component of the project.
The excursion gave students the opportunity to learn about iguanas’ habitat first-hand and taught them the importance of keeping it clean.
Students were urged to be more responsible in managing garbage since waste, particularly plastic, can be devastating to marine biodiversity.
More importantly, the tour exposed students to the detriment to the health and well-being of the iguanas caused by plastic products and trash being left behind by humans who visit their homes. In fact, the group was able to collect a few plastic products within the vicinity.
During this trip, students also learned how to do bead tagging – a strategy used by scientists, to keep track of the population, study their life span and monitor their health. The on-going rat eradication project on the Cay was also discussed.
Half Moon Bay is a vulnerable domicile for the Rock Iguanas as it is a popular location for locals to have beach cook-out and tour companies to take guests to relax, have beach parties and see iguanas.
The Turks & Caicos National Trust continues to seek more support towards conservation plans though funding and donations, and appeals to tour operators and stakeholders to be partners in the stewardship of this area.
To help save our iguanas, their habitat and combat plastic pollution, support the Turks & Caicos National Trust. Call (649) 941-5710 or email email@example.com, for more information.
The Turks and Caicos National Trust has received a donation of $5,000.00 towards bird conservation in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The donation was made by Mrs. Patricia Bradley, widow of former TCI Governor Michael Bradley who served as head of state from 1986 – 1993.
The funds are earmarked to underwrite costs for production of informative materials that would promote bird conservation through the work of the National Trust.
Mrs. Bradley is an avid ornithologist and has authored articles and books on birding, one being the Official Bird Checklist of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Being part of the global conservation movement, the National Trust engages in various exercises along with international and national scientists to promote bird conservation education, such as species count and habitat monitoring.
The Trust is very grateful for this gift from Mrs. Bradley and has identified the Bird Rock Point Heritage Fields as the point of focus for the upcoming project. Bird Rock Point is habitat for nesting White-Tailed Tropic Birds and feeding grounds for many other species such as black-necked stilts, reddish egrets, white-cheeked pintails, green herons, lesser yellowlegs and much more.
For more information about our conservation efforts at Bird Rock Point, please contact the Turks & Caicos National Trust at (649) 941-5710 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Turks & Caicos National Trust led students and volunteers in clearing Five Cays beach area of trash and debris to celebrate the International Day of Biodiversity on May 22nd.
Being part of the global community, the Turks and Caicos Islands perpetually joins with countries of the world in celebrating the variety of life on earth, called ‘biodiversity.’
Students from Enid Capron Primary School, community volunteers and staff of the Turks & Caicos National Trust collected two dozen of large trash bags during the morning clean-up at the beach. Everybody was attuned to cleaning the coastal areas from marine debris that harm our marine life and ecosystems.
As expressed by the National Trust Education and Outreach Manager, Dellareese Higgs, “We thought it fitting to choose an event that would immerse students in an action packed lesson where they learn how they too, can become stewards of a global community, by keeping the environment and their communities clean for the most vulnerable species that share the planet.”
Teachers at the Enid Capron Primary praised the effort and were happy to oblige the Trust as they saw the opportunity to engage students while still very young, to develop in them a call for action, so that they know that they have a responsibility to the environment.
As stated by 5th grade teacher, Ancie Bernadine, “This event today, cleaning the beach, such a small task, but so important for students to learn about and protect the coastal communities where they live. I am so happy that my class was chosen, as the majority of them use this beach. Hopefully as they remove some of the plastic bags, bottles and other trash from the beach, they will remember to keep the beach clean, and will continue to protect our plants, animals and marine life for future generations.”
The day’s event marks the 25th year since this global celebration began in 1993.
For this silver anniversary, the United Nations Secretariat chose the theme of this year’s observance – “Celebrating 25 Years of Action for Biodiversity.”
In full support, the National Trust will sponsor similar upcoming events to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues amongst communities in the Turks & Caicos Islands.
The Turks and Caicos National Trust (TCNT), under its mandate, will continue to champion the goals of protecting, conserving, and preserving our wildlife and historical sites, through education and narrative designed to harness the best efforts, and teaching opportunities, and with much persistence and dedication for the benefit of all.
Members of the community from various sectors converged at Cheshire Hall Plantation on Friday, April 20th, 2018, to plant trees and support environmental goals that address our planet’s environmental challenges.
The tree-planting event was sponsored by Beaches Turks & Caicos and was hosted by the Turks & Caicos National Trust, in collaboration with students and teachers of Clement Howell High School’s Environmental Club, and DECR’s Pine Recovery Project Manager Bryan Manco.
The above-mentioned activity was a follow-up to an Earth Day 100 Trees Initiative which started in 2016, initiated by Beaches Turks & Caicos, through Public Relations Manager Elanor Finfin Krzakowski and TCNT’s Executive Director, Ethlyn Gibbs-Williams.
The National Trust was grateful to receive the gift of trees as the site has lost 30% of its trees as a result of the devastating effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. Approximately two dozen native trees were added to the Cheshire Hall Plantation landscape, including four (4) Caribbean Caicos Pine saplings.
Caicos Pine is an endemic tree, regarded as the National Tree of the Turks & Caicos Islands, and is an important part of the country’s ecosystem. A recovery project is currently underway.
The Turks & Caicos National Trust is an ardent supporter of environmental protection and advocates for safeguarding the country’s natural heritage. This Earth Day tree planting exercise will certainly encourage the efforts of the National Trust in propagating native plants in the nursery at the historical site.
Earth Day, or the International Day for Mother Earth, is the largest civic day in the world that promotes the importance of trees and keeping the earth clean and green.
Trees have a very important role in absorbing carbon, cleaning and cooling the air; stabilizing soils; recycling nutrients for agriculture and supporting habitats for wildlife - just a few of their gifts to humanity.
Let’s keep planting trees!
Copyright: Turks and Caicos National Trust (1992-2016)P.O.Box 540, #50 Salt Mills Plaza, Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands. Tel: (649) 941 5710 Fax: (649) 941 4258 E-Mail: email@example.com