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.