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TCI: Collaborative Shorebird Monitoring for Grand Turk and Salt Cay

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#TurksandCaicos, April 6, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos National Trust (TCNT) and the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) are collaborating, on the weekend of 26 March 2021, for the Spring National Audubon Society Shorebird Surveys as part of a larger partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Funding from the National Audubon Society will allow for an intensive weekend of shorebird surveys on the salinas and ponds of Grand Turk and Salt Cay. These vital habitats provide crucial resting and feeding points for wintering and traveling migratory shorebirds, many of which fly thousands of miles seasonally.

The DECR will be assisting on training TCNT staff on shorebird identification and techniques, following training given based on international partner BirdsCaribbean’s excellent bird identification training modules and trainings. The TCNT team will be logging data and getting up-close familiarity with the important natural, cultural, and historical wetlands and salinas of the Turks Islands. Shorebirds, including sandpipers and plovers, can be quite difficult to identify, especially in their winter plumage – so team members will be armed with binoculars, spotting scopes, and field guides as well as lots of field experience to log the numbers and species of shorebirds seen.

Shorebirds are considered important indicator species, especially for the long-term effects of climate change as both sea level rise and increased frequency and intensity of severe weather events affect their winter and summer habitats. Surveys will focus on historical salinas such as Town Pond, Red Salina, and Great Salina and natural ponds such as North and South Wells of Grand Turk, and the Balfour Town salinas of Salt Cay. Their shallow, muddy bottoms and both graded and steep entries provide diverse habitats that allow a wide variety of shorebirds to use them – from the tiny least sandpiper to the much larger willet.

The wintering shorebirds also vary from the very common, numerous sanderling, which can appear in flocks of hundreds, to the red knot, a much rarer bird. The bird counts will be logged using the free mobile app eBird, which uses citizen science technology to gather data on birds around the world. The data will be able to be used by scientists around the world, but in TCI will also contribute to the collaborative Darwin Plus funded project Restoring and Safeguarding Wetlands of the Caribbean UKOTs, also involving partners in Montserrat and Anguilla.

The project seeks to protect and restore wetlands in the Territories, while providing public education about the valuable ecosystem services they provide, such as flood control, carbon storage, and high-value ecotourism and birdwatching opportunities.

“The development of restoration and conservation actions that have identified environmentally significant wetland sites has provided the opportunity to engage our communities and promote the cultivation of eco-tourism. Furthermore, we are educating the public about the importance of safeguarding our natural treasures and appreciation of the diverse bird life in the TCI”, said Winema Sanders-Penn, Executive Director, TCNT.

DECR Director Lormeka Williams stated, “We are blessed in Turks and Caicos Islands to have this incredible free resource for birdwatching opportunities in the historic salinas and ponds of the Turks Islands. Once an economic powerhouse of salt production, they now offer a focal point for the lucrative birding guide industry. Through surveying migratory shorebirds, DECR and the National Trust gather data to demonstrate the natural importance of these sites as well as their income potential. “

The DECR and TCNT welcome interest in birdwatching and encourage anyone passionate about nature to use the eBird app to report observations.

Photo Credit:  MyTurksandCaicosBlog

Caribbean News

Educational Aids Strengthen Learning Experience for Provo Students

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PROVIDENCIALES, Turks & Caicos Islands: Scores of students in Providenciales will benefit from back-to-school supplies donated by Sandals Foundation Ambassadors at Beaches Turks and Caicos resort, strengthening the instructional process in four schools at the start of the new school term.

More than 2,000 students from Ianthe Pratt, Enid Capron, Oseta Jolly and the Thelma Lightbourne Primary Schools were presented with a generous supply of educational materials including notebooks, pens, pencils, rulers, sharpeners, knapsacks, reading material, sports gear and musical instruments from members of the philanthropic arm of the family all-inclusive resort. While sharing the gratitude for the gifts received, the leaders at the various institutions lauded the efforts of the more than 20 volunteers on hand.

Neekimo King, Principal of the Ianthe Pratt Primary School shared, “Beaches Turks and Caicos and the Sandals Foundation over the years have adopted our institution as their own. These reading books will go a far way in increasing our library stock and improving literacy among the students while the physical education and the guidance counseling units have received lots of materials to bolster the learning experience for our students.”

Sophia Garland, Principal of the Enid Capron Primary School was equally elated as she expressed how beneficial resources will be for the teaching and learning process.

“These supplies, including the books, will definitely aid in increasing literacy amongst the students and the many teaching aids that we have been received will create an environment that is conducive for teaching and learning.”

In sharing with the schools, James McAnally, General Manager at Beaches resort noted, “Sandals Foundation and the resort remain committed to the development of the education of our children, the environment and the communities in which we operate. These four government operated primary schools were identified for these supplies to help in fostering their academic and extra-curricular growth.”

McAnally continued, “A big thank you to the Sandals Foundation Ambassadors who came out and helped with making these distributions possible.”

Vice principal of the Oseta Jolly Primary School, Diana Dean, also expressed gratitude noting, “With these tools, I am sure the students will be excited about learning and the teachers will be better equipped to deliver the lessons.”

The Sandals Foundation and Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort have long been supporters of education and community development in Turks and Caicos, donating to a number of schools and youth sports programmes. Since 2011, the organisations have been assisting students at Ianthe Pratt, Enid Capron Primary Schools and other schools across the islands in their holistic development by providing educational supplies and the opportunity for Sandals and Beaches resorts guests to meaningfully engage with the students through a weekly literacy enhancement programme, hosted in partnership with Island Routes Tours – Reading Road Trip.

 

Captions: 

Header: Staff and students from the Enid Capron Primary School share a moment for the cameras with members of the Sandals Foundation team as the school received educational items from the Beaches Turks and Caicos and the Sandals Foundation.

Insert: James McAnally, General Manager, Beaches Turks and Caicos (front left) makes a presentation to members of the Ianthe Pratt Primary School recently with sporting gear and educational items looking on are members of the Sandals Foundation team, Sesame Street Character

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Crime

PRESS STATEMENT: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

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#TurksandCaicos, January 27, 2023 – The Ministry responsible for Education confirms that a recent report of alleged sexual abuse was brought to the attention of authorities at a particular school. For the protection of the child, we will not divulge details of this matter. We do acknowledge that there were issues experienced which resulted in less than appropriate response to the incident.

 The Ministry is continuing its investigation of the incident, in its totality and has since requested a comprehensive report on the response from all involved. Several meetings, visits and discussions were held. The key is to ensure that the minor involved is afforded additional counselling and care and that other students within the institution are also afforded the relevant support needed. The Student Support Services has been active in coordinating this response which is currently in operation.

 As an immediate further action, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) entities will convene and existing protocols will be reviewed and investigations conducted to determine the consistency of the response, exactly where the established protocols were not followed and the subsequent actions to be taken.

 The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Social Services considers its responsibility for the Safeguarding of children of utmost importance. In so doing, the Ministry of Education has instituted a number of measures over the years to ensure that allegations of abuse to children in schools are treated with urgency. The creation of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) was created to ensure that teachers, leaders, Social Workers, and Police can respond to allegations with the child’s safety and protection as the core consideration. Child safeguarding remains the Ministry’s primary concern.

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Bahamas News

UB Statement: Portia M. Smith Building Under Assessment

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#The Bahamas, January 27, 2023 – In response to concerns expressed, University of The Bahamas released a notification on Thursday 26th January 2023 that effective immediately the Portia M. Smith Building at the Oakes Field Campus is closed until further notice as a precautionary measure.

Immediate steps have been taken to engage the Ministry of Environmental Health to conduct a thorough assessment of the building. In the interim, personnel assigned to Portia M. Smith have been instructed to work remotely to maintain the continuity of operations. A further communication will be issued once the assessment has been completed as we continue to provide timely updates.

Please be assured that the health, safety, and welfare of members of the University community and the general public are paramount and we are working with urgency to address this matter.

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