Ministry Looks To Add New Nature Reserves

May 26, 2012

The Public Works Ministry is proposing that several Parks be reclassified as Nature Reserves, Minister of Public Works Michael Weeks said yesterday [May 25] in the House of Assembly.

“A comprehensive mapping review of the park system has just been completed,” said Minister Weeks.

“As part of this review it is proposed that several Parks be reclassified as Nature Reserves to better reflect their importance as wildlife refuges.”

The proposal would create 6 new protected areas including Stokes Harbour Nature Reserve, One Rock Nature Reserve, Dunscombe Wood Nature Reserve, Ducking Stool Park, Government House Water Front Park and Aquarium Park.

If approved this would result in a total of 114 acres protected under the National Park System increasing the total to 1070 acres.

In 1998 the National Parks System totaled 811 acres, and in 2001 the Government began to expand the Park System adding Virginia Park, the Railway Trail, Barnes Corner Park, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Park and Abbots Cliff Nature Reserve to the National Parks System, for a total of 27 acres.  In 2008, a 102 new acres of parks and 54 new acres of Nature Reserves were added.

Minister Weeks full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to provide Members of this Honourable House an update on the progress made to protect and manage the island’s protected open spaces.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to reassure the public that significant effort is being made to preserve the Government owned open spaces as one of the primary objectives of the Ministry of Public Works.

Our work is primarily led by the Departments of Parks and Conservation Services, but also includes the Bermuda Land Development Company, the West End Development Company, the Government golf courses and the island’s highways. All working towards a common purpose.

Mr Speaker, the Government has made it a priority to expand, protect and improve the National Parks System as a national treasure. As places where locals and tourists alike can relax, play sports and enjoy nature but also as wildlife sanctuaries protecting Bermuda’s biodiversity and threatened species.

Mr Speaker, in 1998 the National Parks System totaled eight hundred and eleven (811) acres. In 2001 the Government began to actively expand the Park System adding Virginia Park, the Railway Trail, Barnes Corner Park, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Park and Abbots Cliff Nature Reserve to the National Parks System, for a total of twenty seven (27) acres.

Mr Speaker, in 2008 Coopers Island Nature Reserve was created from the former NASA baselands. This work culminated in the passing of the National Parks Amendment Act 2009 designating new parks and reserves.

It also created new categories of Recreational parks, including Ports and Darrell’s Islands, as well as ten (10) new marine parks. In total 102 new acres of parks and 54 new acres of Nature Reserves were added to the System.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that a comprehensive mapping review of the park system has just been completed. As part of this review it is proposed that several Parks be reclassified as Nature Reserves to better reflect their importance as wildlife refuges, the creation of new park and nature reserves from Government owned areas and the amendment of boundaries of existing areas for accuracy.

Mr Speaker, the proposals would create six (6) new protected areas including Stokes Harbour Nature Reserve, One Rock Nature Reserve, Dunscombe Wood Nature Reserve, Ducking Stool Park, Government House Water Front Park and Aquarium Park.

The addition of three (3) existing protected areas omitted through clerical error including Fort St Catherine Park, Duck’s Puddle Annexe Park and Walsingham Reserve.

The reclassification of seven (7) existing parks or portions of parks as Nature Reserves to recognize their importance for wildlife – including Barnes Corner, Gilbert, Nelly Island, Smith’s Island, Spanish Point Islands, Warwick Ridge and Wilkinson Memorial Nature Reserves.

Mr Speaker, if approved this would result in a total of one hundred and fourteen (114) areas protected under the National Park System increasing the total to one thousand and seventy (1070) acres.

This is an increase of thirty two (32) acres more than originally passed under the Bermuda National Parks Amendment Act 2009 and two hundred, fifty nine (259) acres more than in 1998.

Mr Speaker, these additions will greatly improve the ability of Government to manage and protect these areas for future generations.

Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Public Works does not restrict its efforts to just managing government owned land. We also provide assistance to many non- government stakeholders.

Of particular note is the work of the terrestrial Conservation crew of the Department of Conservation Services, which provides expert assistance to the Bermuda Audobon Society, with its thirteen (13) reserves, as well as the Walsingham Trust.

Mr Speaker, I look forward to bringing the proposed new parks and reserves to the House for debate in due course.

Thank you Mr. Speaker!

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  1. Family Man says:

    Can someone explain the difference between a park and a nature reserve?

    This is classic: Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Public Works does not restrict its efforts to just managing government owned land. We also provide assistance to many non- government stakeholders.

    Like re-building walls by Shelly Bay after hurricanes. I wonder if Public Works can rebuild my wall for me.