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157 Caicos Pine Saplings Added to Diamond Jubilee Pineyard, Pine Cay

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#TurksandCaicos, August 24, 2017 – Pine Cay – Caicos pine, the National Tree of the Turks and Caicos Islands, received a well-needed population boost on Pine Cay last week through collaborative efforts of the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR), Department of Agriculture, Meridian Club at Pine Cay, and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew).

The fourth planting of Caicos pine (also called Caribbean pine) saplings, grown in the Caicos Pine Recovery Project (CPRP)nursery on North Caicos, saw 157 young trees between 2 and 5 feet tall transported to Pine Cay and planted in the Diamond Jubilee Pineyard.    Established in May 2012 during the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II and coinciding with the International Day of Biological Diversity, the restoration habitat now boasts over 400 healthy young saplings – which should soon begin bearing their own seeds.   Caicos pine trees have been carefully tended in DECR’s CPRP nursery since 2009, following wild collection of seeds and a carefully-executed custom-made seed sowing protocol by Junel Blaise, Nursery and Maintenance Officer.

Blaise, along with supervisor Bryan Naqqi Manco, DECR’s Terrestrial Ecologist/ Environmental Officer, together manage the nursery with over 500 pine trees and upwards of 50 species of native plants, and tend to the ten miles of firebreaks and trails on over 1000 acres of pineyard, a critical habitat in North and Middle Caicos and Pine Cay.

Caicos pine’s population was reduced by 95% across TCI by the introduction of the invasive pine tortoise scale insect, but Pine Cay’s population has survived better than those on North and Middle Caicos.   The Diamond Jubilee Pineyard gives DECR and RBG Kew scientists a better understanding of successful methods towards the restoration of this globally imperiled ecosystem and a historically unique part of TCI’s natural and cultural heritage.

Karen Preikschat, Assistant Resort Manager of the Meridian Club, stated,  “I spent a very informative 1 ½ hours touring the control site and planting site on Pine Cay with Bryan Naqqi Manco.    Bryan took his time explaining the procedure that would be completed this week here on Pine Cay.   One of the most interesting facts I learned that the 157 trees that were planted were germinated from seeds from the Pine Cay trees.   I also learned how important controlled burning is for the survival of the Caribbean Pine.   I believe we need to take a closer look at the trees, shrubs and flowers that we import from other countries which are carrying pests that are endangering our local flora.”

CPRP staff members met with the Wildlife Management International team working on the Saving the Iguana Islands project, and agreed that it will be very interesting to see how recovering Turks and Caicos rock iguanas interacts with the recovering Caicos pine ecosystem.   In no other place does the endemic rock iguana naturally inhabit pineyard habitat, but with successful recovery techniques, Pine Cay’s historically natural ecosystem should become more intact.

Originally supported by the TC I Government’s Conservation Fund, later grants from the Overseas Territories Environment Programme and Darwin Plus funds kept the Caicos Pine Recovery Project well-funded until 2016.   The project is now supported with staff and transportation from DECR, but currently has no regular recurrent funding.

Following this outplanting event, the CPRP nursery has plenty of room to plant more seeds, which will grow into saplings that can be planted out in about three years.   The 200+ trees remaining in the nursery are from North and Middle Caicos populations, which are genetically different from Pine Cay’s trees.   They will be planted in the seed orchard at the Kew Agricultural Station (Government Farm) and hopefully on some protected sites on Middle Caicos soon.

Photo: DECR Nursery and Field Officer Junel “Flash” Blaise plants a Caicos pine sapling in the Diamond Jubilee Pineyard on Pine Cay to facilitate habitat restoration.

Press Release: TCIG

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Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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