Photography provided by Brilliant Studios

East Caicos Project

The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF), was awarded a €50,000 grant to study the coral reefs off the coast of East Caicos. The grant, titled “Understanding East Caicos KBA’s Corals and Coasts: A Key to Safeguarding TCI’s Future,” was awarded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) BEST 2.0 Programme (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Oversees Countries and Territories).

The project aims to address the current limitations of management and monitoring policy and improve long-term conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services within East Caicos’ coral reef ecosystems through the development of conservation zones and management and monitoring protocols. The selection of conservation zone classifications will be based on multi-criteria evaluation, which incorporates 16 ecosystem service and biodiversity values and quantitative and qualitative assessment based on Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) Caribbean methods. Conservation zone classifications and management and monitoring protocols will be agreed via workshops with the TCI management authority (DECR) and local stakeholders.

After project completion, TCRF, in conjunction with DECR, will establish regular monitoring protocols at two-year intervals. The project methods and results will be shared via multi-media and open-access online media. East Caicos is one of the largest remaining, uninhabited islands left in the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic regions. It has some of the most pristine stands of critically endangered staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn (Acropora palmate) corals seen anywhere around the TCI, and we have only started to study the all the reefs around East Caicos.