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.