ABOUT 25 guests from Beaches Turks and Caicos joined the TCI National Trust and Sandals Foundation in planting 100 mangroves at Little Water Cay.

The initiative was part of several environmental awareness activities held in association with the resort’s recent event ‘Social Media on the Sand’.

Heidi Clarke, executive director of Sandals Foundation, said she was delighted to have the visitors take part in the environmental conservation activity Saturday, October 19.

“We are super excited to have our moms and influencers join us as we work to increase the mangrove coverage along the coastline in the TCI,” she said in an October 30 statement.

“Over the years, a major focus of our environmental work has been in marine and coastal protection and conservation.

“We welcome all guests to share in these projects as we strive to positively impact the precious environment upon which we rely.”

Mangroves are a great network of filters to purify water sources, they are a strong defence mechanism against storm surges, flood and wind and are home to juvenile fish, crab, shrimp and mollusc species.

Speaking at the planting exercise, Winema Sanders Penn, Director of the TCI National Trust encouraged more people to join the conservation efforts by planting mangroves.

“Mangroves are amazing for protecting our coastline, ensuring our environment is safe for future generations,” she said.

“We encourage everyone to go out and plant some mangroves, and if you do not know how to, come down to the National Trust and we will teach you.”

The recent mangrove restoration activity forms part of a wider marine conservation programme executed by the Sandals Foundation across the Caribbean.

Last year, the foundation partnered with the Grenada Fund for Conservation to plant close to 1,000 mangroves at various locations across the country.

The foundation manages two fully operational marine sanctuaries and supports five others in Jamaica.

It supports coral nursery restoration activities in St Lucia, Jamaica and the TCI as well as spearheads awareness and educational programmes in all seven countries in which it operates.

A beautiful partnership: Beaches Turks & Caicos (Sandals Foundation) + Turks & Caicos National Trust

A tree-planting trip to Little Water Cay a.k.a Iguana Island on October 19, 2019:

Sandals Foundation partners with the Turks & Caicos National Trust on efforts to stabilize the beach — and thus protect the iguanas — by planting mangrove trees, which are native to the area.

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 info@tcnationaltrust.org or the DECR at (649) 338-4170/ email aavenant@gov.tc.