|DECR conducts World Wetlands Day activities|
|Thursday, 24 February 2011 10:55|
Across the Turks and Caicos Islands, World Wetlands Day was celebrated with cleanups of salinas and parks, planting of trees and monitoring of birds, supervised by the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources.
“It has been a common practice worldwide to view wetlands as dumping grounds or wastelands, and so the DECR will continue its endeavour to protect and preserve the wetlands of the Turks and Caicos Islands to the benefit of one and all,” said DECR Deputy Director Jewel Batchasingh.
“Please remember that the wetlands including the salinas represent a source of national pride, and so the department would like to appeal to establishments on their outskirts to remove any remaining debris and garbage, and to make an effort to maintain the surrounding area.”
The theme of this year’s World Wetlands Day, celebrated annually on Feb. 2, was “Wetlands and Forests.”
On Grand Turk, the focus was cleaning up Town Pond Salinas and Red Salina, which were recently designated as Areas of Historic Interest. The salinas are ecologically important wetlands providing a home to many birds, crustaceans and fish.
Some of the items pulled from salinas included old stoves, toys, tires, light posts and zinc, to name a few. Some items could not be removed because they could not be reached or had become lodged deep in the sediment of the ponds.
DECR reminds the public that dumping anything in or along the ponds or erecting any structure is a crime.
On South Caicos, DECR officers and a few local community members cleaned up the coastal area of Cedar Park, which is often used by local fishers when landing catch. Debris included bottles, papers, rope, and plastic bags.
On Providenciales, members of the New Age Academy’s InterAct Club and DECR’s Environmental Club planted mahogany saplings along Lower Bight Road near the Children’s Park to replace the invasive cow bush, which the DECR has removed from the site.
After planting trees, the students and Environmental Club members then proceeded to the Wheeland Ponds to plant red mangroves. Along with school groups led by the National Trust, students helped clean up the edge of West Wheeland Pond. Litter removed included gas tanks, old metal wires and other debris.
DECR Providenciales staff members then conducted a bird monitoring training for the students, teaching them how to use binoculars, record weather and geographic data, and identify water birds most likely to be seen on the ponds. Some of the birds that were seen were a juvenile blue heron, great blue heron, black-necked stilts, American coots, ruddy turnstones, willets, zenaida doves, American kestrel and a bananaquit.
Data collected on wetland birds helps the DECR to know which sites are most important for migratory and residential birds, and may support the expansion of wetlands protection in TCI.
The DECR on Providenciales thanked the Grace Bay Club for sponsoring the refreshments for the day’s events.
The department pointed out that much of the debris found and still remaining in the wetlands across the TCI are a result of deliberate dumping on the part of members of the public.
“It is important for us to be aware that not only does this practice create an unsightly appearance and affect the ecology of the ponds, but it can also give rise to the proliferation of pests such as rats which were found amongst discarded wood and shingles along one salina during the cleanup,” Batchasingh said.
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