A new nature trail will be launched in Middle Caicos on December 4th. The trail, developed by the Department of Environment & Maritime Affairs (DEMA) and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is a 0.45 mile long ramble, with 16 stopping points, that walks you through the indigenous Caicos Pine Yard, guided by interpretive information signs.
“While historically the pine yards were often visited for agriculture and resource extraction, few people visit them nowadays and the habitat is as much at risk of becoming out-of-sight, out-of-mind as it is from its other threats. The Caicos Pine Yard Trail is a result of seven years of fieldwork with our project partners to increase public awareness about our National Tree and the unique habitat in which it exists. The National Tree Ramble presents a new opportunity to experience the ecosystem and its wildlife, most notably the iconic Caicos pine firsthand.”, said Bryan Naqqi Manco, Caicos Pine Recovery Project Manager.
Each stopping point is related to the corresponding text in the trail guide brochure, providing an explanation about the plants, animals, habitat, threats and conservation measures. The trail can be self-guided (brochure available on site) or guided tours by local ecotourism companies and local guides can be arranged contacting DEMA’s office in Providenciales.
The Caicos Pine Recovery Project was launched in 2008 after it was found that the TCI’s National Tree was under threat of extinction due to a severe infestation by the non-native pine tortoise scale insect. This scale insect has killed over 90% of pines in TCI, devastating the local pine yards in the past 10 years, and few live healthy trees can be seen nowadays. The Caicos pine is now listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened species as Vulnerable.