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DECR Launches Important Tropical Plant Areas & Species in TCI Project

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#TurksandCaicos, May 19, 2022 – The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) along with visiting scientists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) will launch the DarwinPlus 114 Project Tropical Important Plant Areas and Important Plant Species in TCI. The project was originally to begin in May 2020, but with Covid-19-related travel restrictions, along with restructuring at DECR and RBG Kew, two years of deferments were necessary. The project has begun and will be officially launched this week in a workshop on Thursday 12 May 2022 beginning at 9:00 AM in the National Environmental Centre.

In reference to the project, DECR Director Lormeka Williams stated, “With the recent completion of the National Physical Development Plan, the signing of the Climate Change Charter, and the review of the National Parks Ordinance, we are poised and ready to utilise new information on land use and impacts to our Protected Areas and green spaces. We are newly energised to commit to the discovery and description of our most sensitive and significant plant diversity hotspots. We’re inspired by our colleagues in the British Virgin Islands having completed the pilot of this project. We are also ready and excited to find out what these plants are that evade identification and may prove to be something unknown to science.”

The project is focused on identifying Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Turks and Caicos Islands. TIPAs are a network of the key sites for wild plants and threatened habitats identified using scientifically robust data. They are not legal designations, but a means to identify the most important sites for wild plant diversity and to inform the protection and management of sites. Identifying TIPAs will help prevent the global loss of plant diversity, whilst safeguarding the role of plants as primary producers and providers of ecosystem infrastructure, products, and services.

TIPAs also provides a framework for Governments to implement target 5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Global Strategy for Plant Conservation – to ensure the protection of at least 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity of each ecological region by 2020 with effective management in place for conserving plants and their genetic diversity. TIPAs also contribute to implementing the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Target 12 – by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained. Criteria for identification of Tropical Important Plant Areas were developed, and the first nationwide project was completed by RBG Kew and the Virgin Islands National Parks Trust in the British Virgin Islands in 2019. Assistant Director of Research and Development B Naqqi Manco participated in the April 2019 BVI TIPAs Workshop, and discussed the potential to replicate the project with long-established partners at RBG Kew in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Following the TCI TIPAs Launch Workshop, the DECR and RBG Kew team will trial the criteria over several sites of high plant diversity in Providenciales, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos. Over the next three years, the teams will cover other islands as well. Of particular importance will be the Turks and Caicos Islands eight known endemic plant species – those found nowhere else on earth. A secondary component of the project focuses on investigating some unique populations of rare plants in TCI, which may constitute new varieties or even species. RBG Kew will use DNA analysis to explore the relationship of these species to their closest relatives. Importantly, the rare and endemic species will be targeted for IUCN Red Data Listing as well, to assess their wild population status and trends.

 

Release: DECR

Photo: This beautiful Encyclia orchid is one of the unique groups of plants that will be studied by the project.

 

Caribbean News

US Milestone Celebrated

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#Jamaica, June 30, 2022 – This year marks the United States of America’s (USA) 246th anniversary of Independence, and the milestone was celebrated with a reception on June 28 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.  The event also featured the traditional United States Marine Corps Colour Guard ceremony.

Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, who represented the Government of Jamaica, extended congratulations to the Government and people of the United States (US) on this significant achievement.

“The Government of Jamaica is pleased to join in commemorating this milestone with our American friends and partners. Today we celebrate a nation that continues to give practical meaning to the declaration of Independence and the vision of the founding fathers for the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These tenets have been central to the growth and development of the Union since 1776 and its transformation as a global leader,” he said.

For his part, US Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Nick Perry, said the countries’ partnership has been rewarding, and expressed the United States’ continued commitment to strengthening the cooperation between the nations.

“On behalf of the United States Mission to Jamaica, thank you for joining us as we celebrate the 246th anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America. As we celebrate America’s independence, we also celebrate 60 years of partnership between our two countries. Together we have promoted democracy, human rights, and shared security concerns,” he said.

Jamaica established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1962, following its independence from the United Kingdom.

The partnership focuses on reducing corruption; increasing transparency and good governance; fostering Jamaican participation in regional security efforts; strengthening basic education; and increasing energy resiliency.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US has provided more than US$16.4 million as well as donations of vaccines to assist Jamaica’s containment measures.

Additionally, over the last 12 months, the United States has collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to issue a record number of H2 visas, bringing critical, temporary labour to the US, while providing jobs for thousands of Jamaicans that resulted in millions of dollars in remittances.

Significantly, the Peace Corps, which is also celebrating 60 years of partnership with Jamaica this year, will resume its operations on the island beginning September, following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

 

Contact: Rochelle Williams

Release: JIS

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Caribbean News

Positive Outlook for Caribbean Tourism

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Shanieka Smith

Features Writer

 

 June, 30, 2022 – The president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, says tourism in the Caribbean is recovering faster than expected.

While presenting at the CHTA ‘Caribbean Tourism Fireworks’, she said the Caribbean travel and tourism sector experienced the second-fastest recovery of all regions in 2021. Travel and Tourism have contributed to the gross domestic product (GDP) by 36.6 per cent. She added that they have recovered over 311,000 jobs.

“That is really a testament to how fast Caribbean tourism has been able to come back into play,” said Madden-Greig.

January and February were not as successful because of the uprising of the COVID-19 omicron variant. Travel heightened between March and June, and Madden-Greig reported that summer looks promising and that they “expect that winter 2022-2023 will also be strong”.

“For the June to August period, [the Caribbean is] ahead of our 2019 airline arrivals in terms of what is forecast and on the books by upwards of two per cent,” she said.

The CHTA’s Caribbean Tourism Fireworks is what the trade association uses to communicate regional tourism performance and outlook survey results. In addition to the performance reports, other topics were discussed including the recognition of Caribbean tourism’s resilience; that investments by the tourism industry in capital improvements, health safety and product value are underpinning the region’s tourism recovery; and that labour shortages present immediate and long-term opportunities.

CHTA urged employers, governments, education and training institutions to recruit new employees and prepare communities for careers, employment and ownership opportunities within the sector.

Also present at the CHTA Caribbean Tourism Firework were CHTA’s acting CEO and Director General, Vanessa Ledesma, Jamaican hotelier Clifton Reader, and the chair of CHTA’s Advocacy Committee.

While the speakers agreed that intra-Caribbean travel has great opportunities, they share that there are connectivity issues and issues with preserving, protecting and enhancing the region’s natural resources.

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Sandals Resorts International Appoints Rachel McLarty as Corporate Director of Communications & Public Relations

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Communications Executive Rejoins Brand After Tenure at Distinguished Jamaican Law Firm

 

MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA, June 15, 2022 – Sandals Resorts International recently  announced the appointment of Rachel McLarty to Corporate Director of Communications & Public Relations, overseeing the company’s corporate communication efforts and public relations initiatives for the Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts brands throughout the Caribbean. Reporting to Executive Chairman Adam Stewart and CEO Gebhard Rainer, McLarty returns to the organization after a ten-year hiatus where she previously held the position of Group Director of Corporate Relations.

“We are in a moment of tremendous momentum and require a skilled, expert hand to navigate through what will be an upcoming decade of unprecedented growth for the organization,” said Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of SRI. “Rachel McLarty is that voice in the Caribbean, and we are thrilled to welcome her back to the company as we celebrate our 40th anniversary and plan for the next forty.”

McLarty, who will be based in the Kingston headquarters of Sandals Resorts International, will lead a talented team of public relations and communication professionals in Jamaica and throughout the entire Caribbean region. During her first tenure with SRI, McLarty served as Group Director of Corporate Relations for the organization for a period of five years, beginning in 2006. Prior to rejoining the company, she served as an attorney-at-law at Myers, Fletcher & Gordon, one of the largest law firms in Jamaica. She is deeply committed to improving and developing Caribbean communities, currently sitting as Chairman of the Board for St. Andrew High School for Girls and the SOS Children’s Villages in Jamaica.

“Sandals Resorts International remains the brand standard for Caribbean organizations, and it is an honour to rejoin the company at such a prolific time,” said McLarty. “And while I have certainly followed the tremendous success of the brands in the last decade, I have remained even more impressed by the organization’s continued commitment to the Caribbean, the region we all call home. I look forward to the incredible work to be done.”

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