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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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TCI Red Cross Hits New Heights with 3rd Annual Red Hot Challenge Success  



June 13, 2024: PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS: The TCI Red Cross recently hosted their successful 3rd Annual Red Hot Challenge, a testament to the organization’s commitment to community engagement and humanitarian efforts.

This year’s event, held at the National Stadium in Providenciales, brought together over 13 teams in a thrilling display of sportsmanship and skills. The Beaches Marlins emerged victorious, with the Amanyara Cruisers in second place and the Beaches Pirates in third.

Speaking on the event, TCI Red Cross Director Candianne Williams said, “Year after year, the Red Hot Challenge fundraiser has grown more successful, and we really could not have done it without the support we have received from our participating teams, sponsors, volunteers and supporters.”

She continued, “When we started the Red Hot Challenge series of fundraisers, our goal was not only to raise funds for the work we do here at the Red Cross but also to create an event that would bring together the community in a spirit of unity, support, and fun-filled camaraderie.”

This year’s event showcased an active lineup of exciting competitions, which included traditional favorites like arm wrestling and tug-of-war, alongside engaging challenges such as football tosses, planks, spoon relay races, egg tosses, water balloon tosses, sprint races, and soccer kicks.

Williams added, “The games were not only interactive for the participants but also fun, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the Beaches Marlins on winning first place in this year’s competition, as well as the Amanyara Cruisers on their second place and the Beaches Pirates on coming in third, respectively.”

Keneisha Thompson, the Turks and Caicos Athletics Association representative, emphasized, “We commend the teams for their participation, especially as this is the only event in the TCI for sporting participants. Their dedication this year, from organizing the rules to meeting the teams and executing the event, is truly remarkable.”

The annual Red Hot Challenge stands as a cornerstone of the organization’s acclaimed ‘Red Hot’ fundraising series, serving as a pivotal event in the TCI Red Cross’s fundraising initiatives. This series has witnessed the success of two corporate sports days and two fashion extravaganzas. These events not only raise crucial funds but also foster community engagement and support for the humanitarian work of the TCI Red Cross.

Karen Whitt of the Hartling Group, who serves as Chair of the TCIRC Fundraising Committee, commended the participants, stating, “Congratulations to all of the participants; you are all winners for supporting this year’s Red Hot Challenge. The event’s success is a testament to the unwavering commitment of our community to support the vital work of the Red Cross in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

This year’s team lineup featured the Beaches Marlins, Amanyara Cruisers, Beaches Pirates, NSS Destroyers, CHHS Eagles, Waterloo Worriers, The Palms, Royal TCI Police Enforcers, Louise Garland High School, NCS, The Sands, and The Source. Proud sponsors of the team included The Strand and The Marlin Limited, with Powerade joining as the official drink sponsor of the games.

The next Red Hot Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, May 3, 2025, at the National Stadium on Providenciales. For more information on the TCI Red Cross and its activities, please visit their website at and follow their social media accounts: Turks and Caicos Red Cross on Facebook and @TCIRedcross_ on Instagram.

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, 13th June 2024– Experience Turks and Caicos is set to roll out a new initiative designed to promote immersive tourism in the islands.
Titled ‘Exquisite Turks and Caicos’, this immersive tourism programme, conceptualised by the Strategic Development Unit, collaborates closely with industry partners to curate and deliver on niche product offerings and services to enhance our visitors’ overall experience.
Focused on adding significant value in education, culture, history, eco-friendliness, entertainment, engagement, and affordability, the programme has identified priority areas through which new or existing micro and small businesses can partner. The programme targets businesses that are land-based, water-based (excluding dive and charters), and involved in the promotion of the cultural arts, nature and wildlife, gastronomy, agriculture and heritage. The goal of Exquisite Turks and Caicos is to ensure that the traveller will walk away not only having an exquisite experience, but a learned one that will be treasured always.
“Immersive Tourism is about creating compelling and interactive visitor experiences through strategic partnerships with local vendors. It goes beyond traditional sightseeing and offers travellers a deeper connection to the destination’s culture, history, and environment,” says Mr. Courtney Robinson, Strategic Development Manager.
“‘Exquisite Turks and Caicos’ is our commitment to our pillar of Inclusive Growth which ensures that everyone in the Turks and Caicos Islands benefit from the tourism industry through the enhancement of our offerings. It extends beyond the warm smiles, white sandy beaches or picturesque landscapes; it is a promise to curate and deliver on experiences that create memories, that resonate with the soul of every traveller,” he added.
Mr. Robinson will visit Grand Turk, North Caicos, Middle Caicos and South Caicos to meet with business owners about the programme.

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Caribbean News

TCI Sport delegation visits the Cayman Islands and Barbados with key sport leaders



TCI Sports Commission delegation traveled to the Cayman Islands and Barbados to visit with key Sport leaders. The TCI delegation included the Sports Commission Director, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, Deputy Director, Mr. Alvin Parker, and Facility Manager for Providenciales, Mr. Darian Forbes. The aim of the travel was to visit major facilities, with priorities being pool facilities, and discuss sport development strategies.

The team had the pleasure of being hosted by the Deputy Chief Officer for Sport, Dr. Dalton Walter, and the Director of Sports, Mr. Kurt Hyde in the Cayman Islands; who facilitated the facility tours and shared valuable information on Sports Development. Meetings were held with Deputy Chief Officer Ms. Joan West and Technical Director for the Cayman Islands Aquatics Sport Association, Mr. Jacky Pellerin, on the Cayman Islands’ new 50-meter and 25 meter 10 lanes Mrytha pool facility, as well as with Ms. Shakeina Bush from the National Olympic Office on National Federation development and funding opportunities. The Sports Commission delegation was also grateful for the courtesy call with the Minister of Sport for the Cayman Islands, Hon. Isaac Rankine, and the Chief Officer Ms. Teresa Echenique.

During the Barbados leg of the exploratory travel, the Sports Commission team was hosted by the Director of the National Sports Council, Mr. Neil Murrell, and the Assistant Director of Sports, Mr. Ryan Toppin. The TCI team toured the National Sport Council facilities and visited the Barbados National Olympic Association. Significant to the TCI’s plan to develop an aquatic center, the TCI Sports Commission visited the Barbados Aquatic Sport Association and met with former National Olympic Academy Director, Mr. Dave Farmer, and the President and Second Vice President of the Barbados Swim Association, Mr. Robert Armstrong and Mr. Nicholas Mathis. Insights were shared regarding swimming pool design, development and maintenance as well as pool programming strategies to ensure the growth and sustainability of swimming in the islands.

The TCI delegation also visited other stadium facilities such as Track and Field, Football and Cricket, and other major facilities in Basketball and Boxing. The TCI Sport Commission officials had great discussions with both the Cayman Islands and Barbados sports officials surrounding the development of coaches, athlete development pathways, and strengthening relationships with National Sport Governing Bodies.

Director of Sports, Mr. Jarrett Forbes, said, “We were very grateful for the hospitality and support extended by our Caribbean colleagues. Their support affirmed the commitment and unity among the Caribbean community to develop sports in the region.”

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