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National Trust and Partners invest on measures to eradicate invasive Casuarina trees



#TurksandCaicos, November 13, 2021 – The next time you see a pine-looking tree in and around your neighbourhood, better look closely as it may be ‘Casuarina’. This tree is often mistaken as a member of the Pinus family due to its resemblance to our National Tree – the Caicos Pine.

Casuarina equisetifolia or Australian pine trees (often called cedar trees or whispering pine locally) are a familiar tree in the TCI but they are not native to our country.

In some places such as Half Moon Bay, Casuarina trees are growing in a thick, dense stands making access very difficult for visitors.  All trees drop their leaves either gradually or all at once, so that they can grow new ones.  Casuarina leaves (called needles) drop to the ground and form a thick impenetrable blanket which stops our native plants growing.  Our endemic Rock Iguanas feed on the fruit, flowers and leaves of native plants like Sea-grape and Inkberry.  They do not eat Casuarina leaves.  So the dense stands of Casuarina will eventually shade out the native plants and because there is no food, there will be fewer rock iguanas to see at Half Moon Bay.

Under license from the DECR, the National Trust has begun clearing patches of Casuarina trees from parts of Half Moon Bay.  The trees are felled and the branches are stacked in piles.  This will give more space for the native plants to grow big and strong.  Eventually vigorous, healthy native plants should cover these areas, stabilise the sand and stop the Casuarina from coming back as there will be limited space for the Casuarina seedlings to grow.  The increase in native plants will greatly improve the quality of habitat for iguanas.  The removal of the Casuarinas will create more space for visitors and improve the stability of the sand bar that forms Half Moon Bay meaning it is less likely to be washed away during a severe storm.

The larger trees will be left to provide shade and a focus for visitors. Staff and volunteers from the National Trust will return in future years to pull up Casuarina seedlings and prevent Half Moon Bay being recolonised by this pernicious invader. The number of iguanas in the area will be monitored by scientists from San Diego Zoo and we expect to see an increase in the number of iguanas in the area.

This is part of the large investment being made by the National Trust and its partners to increase the number of Rock Iguanas on Pine, Water and Little Water Cays.  In the past ten years $2.7 million has been invested in TCI in securing the population of Rock Iguanas on these islands.

Please support this work and contact the Turks & Caicos National Trust to know how you can help. Send us an email at or call us at (649) 941-5710.


Casuarina Facts

Casuarina trees come from southern Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands and were introduced to TCI in the 1920s.

It’s one of the few trees that can grow quickly and easily in a poor salty soil and was planted initially to create shade and later as a landscape plant in tourist resort areas.  From these areas Casuarinas have spread and can now be found on many islands and cays.  Its seeds float and can survive immersion in seawater so once a clump or stand is established, it will spread to nearby areas.  This seems to have happened from Causarina trees on Star Island (the man-made island constructed from stones and dredgings from the Leeward Channel) which have appeared on the southern shore of Little Water Cay.

Casuarina loves disturbed ground.  It can often be seen growing along road edges or on abandoned buildings plots. It rarely grows in undisturbed bush areas.  When cut, its wood makes excellent firewood and charcoal.

In its native range many insects and birds have evolved to use Casuarina in various ways (eg for food and nesting).  However very few species in TCI can use them though some birds will roost in the bigger trees.

Casuarina trees have shallow roots.  There is some evidence from Florida and other places that areas with Casuarina are more vulnerable to storm damage than areas covered in native vegetation. Native plants have roots that form webs under the ground knitting the sand together.



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Caribbean News

Grants for farmers



#TurksandCaicos, January 31, 2023 – Good Morning to my colleagues in government, I recognize……..and most importantly good morning to the farmers. It is my pleasure today to have you here at this award ceremony.  For the very first time in Turks and Caicos, farmers are getting relief for hurricane damage.

This shows that the government is committed to ensuring that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands have access to a constant and nutritious supply of food, reduce the food import bill and retain money in the local economy. Food Security is the foundation of all human needs. Given the threat to the global supply chain and growing inaccessibility to enough nutritious food, the Government is committed to supporting the farmers to produce local food, to supplement the food requirement of the country. My government’s priority is to provide an enabling environment, to facilitate local investment within the Agriculture Sector as outlined in the People’s Plan for Empowerment

In February last year (2022) my government launched the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro-Grant Incentive). This Finance Support Program for farmers is the first program of this kind in the Turks and Caicos Islands and shows Government’s mandate is to invest heavily in local food production through providing financial support. My government has allocated US$250,000.00 in this first year to promote agriculture development. This Finance Program has 3 areas of support

  • Improvement Programmes – to upgrade farms, Existing registered farmers who wish to perform farm upgrades can receive a maximum of $20,000
  • New Farm Start Up/Young Entrepreneurs– For new or younger farmers between the ages of 18-25 years can receive a maximum of $15,000
  • Disaster Relief – this is specifically in response to National Natural Disasters “Acts of Nature” inclusive of earthquake, hurricane and storms and other approved natural disasters. The value of this grant will be 10% of the assessed damages (up to a maximum of $20,000 USD

To date 12 farmers have received grants in the first 2 categories. Today we are here to give disaster relief to those registered farmers who would have suffered from losses due to the passage of hurricane Fiona in September last year.

Government knows that Farming is an expensive business, farmers livelihood depends on the investment they make on their farms. We live in a small island state that is vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricane. These disasters can have devastating effects on farms, destroying years of productive work and effort farmers would have put in.

Government in recognizing the important contribution farmers make to Food security and the vulnerabilities they face has moved into action to provide much needed support towards the rebuilding of the farms. Today 15 registered will be receiving funds for disaster relief to assist with their rebuilding efforts. This monies I know will be used for the purposes granted.

I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues and Premier for supporting the continued efforts to grow the Agriculture Sector.

My department of Agriculture recognizes farming is dynamic and as such has lobbied Cabinet for continued support. I am pleased to say that in August last year through a Cabinet Paper, government had approved amending the Agriculture Policy to provide full exemption of import duties for farm vehicles registered farmers can now apply through the department for this support. At that meeting we also agreed for the Department of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive Agro-Incentive Program to support farming in the TCI.

Once again I would like to commend the farmers who are benefiting today for their hard work and dedication and look forward to serving you as your minister

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Bahamas News

U.S. Supports the RBPF With Additional Crime Fighting Vehicles on The Bahamas’ “Road to 50”



#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – Since 1973, the United States and The Bahamas have enjoyed a long-lasting security partnership.  To mark this valued friendship, the United States Government, on January 31, 2023, renewed its support for the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) with 20 new Ford Police Inceptor Hybrid SUVs valuing nearly $1.4 million.  The United States’ Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts; Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Davis; Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe and RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander were on hand for the donation at RBPF East Hill Street Headquarters.

The 20 hybrid vehicles will be added to the 32 vehicles previously donated to the RBPF by the US government to help replace crucial infrastructure lost during Hurricane Dorian.  Recovering from a hurricane is an arduous process that requires support at many levels, from roads and housing to mental health services.  The U.S. government hopes these vehicles will contribute to one key step in the process: citizen security.  These vehicles will not only assist the RBPF’s efforts to combat crime but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the islands.

In her remarks Chargé Pitts noted, “these vehicles are just one example of the United States’ continued efforts to help for The Bahamas’ keep its citizens and visitors safe.”

Prime Minister Philip Davis showed his appreciation for this timely vehicle donation as it will assist with added capacity and increased saturation patrols on the streets.  The Prime Minister added that residents will notice an increased police presence and the police will have new capacity to respond quickly to any criminal activity.

RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander highlighted that “we have noticeably taken more illegal firearms and ammunition off our streets in 2022.  We have also seized more illegal drugs including marijuana and marijuana plants than in [previous] years.  Suffice to say, we have efficiently utilized all 32 vehicles previously donated by the U.S. government in our crime fighting efforts.”

In recent years, the U.S. Government, through U.S. Embassy Nassau, has delivered more than $25 million to assist The Bahamas with efforts to fight crime.  On behalf of the Bahamian people, Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe extended his gratitude for the U.S. government’s assistance noting “It seems that when we’re together there [is] always an occasion where they [U.S. government] have helped us and assisted us substantially.”

Captions: Credited to U.S. Embassy Nassau

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Bahamas News

Minister of Health & Wellness thanks Cuban nurses for their service during the COVID-19 Pandemic



#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – An appreciation ceremony was held at SuperClubs Breezes resort, January 30, 2023, to thank the remaining cohort of nurses from the Republic of Cuba who joined the cadre of healthcare workers at the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) to assist in the delivery of hospital services and patient care in face of the impact of COVID-19.
The cohort originally comprised 42 nurses who started their duties on Monday, January 24, 2022. The ceremony was attended by some 25 remaining nurses.
Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville thanked the Cuban Ambassador, His Excellency Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante, on behalf of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues, for Cuba’s response to the call for help from the Bahamas Government.
“You came to us in one of our most dangerous moments. You came to us in the heat of the Delta Variant when many of our brothers and sisters lost their lives as a result of COVID,” Minister Darville said.
“At the time that I went to Cuba, we had about 100 nurses in our healthcare system who were out as a result of COVID, while the developed world was recruiting our nurses left, right and centre.”
He also noted that at that time The Bahamas could not even get vaccines.
“We are a Small Island Developing State. The world was hoarding the vaccines to developed countries and our population was very vulnerable because we did not have access to what the developed world had.”
Minister Darville said, “But we had a friend 100 miles to the south of us who came to our rescue. You came to us at our most vulnerable moment. For that as a country, Your Excellency, we will forever be grateful to the Republic of Cuba.”
The Minister noted that the nurses’ services were so exemplary and needed, the contract, which was originally for three months, was extended to one-year. Despite this, he said it was time for the nurses to return home to their loved ones.
However, he explained that the relationship between the two countries has not ended as he is in negotiations with the Republic of Cuba for bringing in some additional biomedical engineers, physicians, respiratory therapists and HVAC specialists.
PHOTO CAPTION – Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville thanked the nurses from the Republic of Cuba for bolstering the country’s healthcare system during the COVID-19 Pandemic, during an appreciation ceremony at SuperClubs Breezes, Monday, January 30, 2023.
(BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna)

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