The Turks & Caicos National Trust and the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) on Saturday, October 12th, called for greater commitment to protecting wetlands, which serve as a critical source not only of biodiversity but also sustainability for local communities.
A wetlands clean-up was conducted at Wheeland Pond in Blue Hills in an effort to promote the wise use and conservation of this habitat which is a major concern among residents because these areas are not only home to many plants and animals but also to a lot of human communities. This vital activity was supported by members of the Tourism & Environmental Clubs of Clement Howell High School, Science Club members of Raymond Gardiner High School, DECR and National Trust staff, and other concerned citizens.
The clean-up also ties in with the current Heritage Month celebration as wetlands are an essential component of our natural heritage.
Additional activity for the day was a bird watching tour at Wheeland Pond to highlight another celebration, International Migratory Bird Day, which is a conservation initiative that brings awareness on conserving migratory birds and their habitats throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Prior to the above-mentioned activities, on October 5th, the Turks & Caicos National Trust staff conducted house-to-house educational outreach to communities near Wheeland Pond. Wetlands restoration flyers were given to residents.
More community-based actions geared towards protecting and restoring wetlands will follow, including educational tours and lectures, courtesy of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the UK Government’s Darwin Plus initiative which is funding 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 Pond in Providenciales. Local conservation partners have identified this wetlands area as a critical ecological site.
Wetlands provide ecological benefits such as providing fresh water and food supply, habitats for biodiversity, protection against floods, and carbon sequestration, which are all essential in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Yet, many people are still unaware of these benefits and have the misconception of wetlands being wastelands.
How you can help:
Volunteer: Participate at our mangroves planting activities, clean-ups, community meetings and other public engagements to sensitize and mobilize communities of neighbouring wetlands to become involved in wise management of such ecosystems.
Give: Your generous donation can help us implement action plans to restore our wetlands.
For more information, contact the Turks & Caicos National Trust at (649) 941-5710/ email firstname.lastname@example.org or the DECR at (649) 338-4170/ email email@example.com.