|Expert report warned about encroachment on protected areas|
|Thursday, 01 July 2010 12:23|
In the same year when the government began allocating land and approving subdivisions in national parks and nature reserves, a study was conducted warning that no improper development should take place in those protected areas.
“For Chalk Sound National Park we are of the view that the negative impacts of further residential development around the periphery of the national park (waste management, effluent, landscaping, runoff, jetties, boat traffic) is likely to significantly alter the ecology of this site, particularly given the limited nature of water exchange between it and the open sea,” Nautilus Consultants Ltd. said in a September 2006 report to the Turks and Caicos Islands government.
In fact, the consultants recommended expanding the buffer on the north side of Chalk Sound to protect against the impacts of residential development.
Between 2006 and 2009, more than 30 people got property from the former government in the northeastern corner of the Chalk Sound National Park along South Dock Road. They say they didn’t know the property was in the park, and now they are upset that the interim government won’t let them build there.
Chalk Sound is one of 11 national parks designated by law in 1988. Those 11 parks, along with 11 nature reserves, six sanctuaries and five sites of historic interest, are governed by the National Parks Ordinance of 1992. That law prohibits residential construction in those areas which were set aside for public access and protection of the environment.
Property owners who have not built on their Chalk Sound park land can keep the land but cannot build on it, the interim government says. For a few who have begun construction or nearly completed homes, the interim government is working out a compensation package to offset their cost of development.
Carlos Simons, a lawyer and former chairman of the Consultative Forum who is running for leadership of the Progressive National Party, says the government should adjust the park boundary to allow people to build on their property “as one off exception. That is the only just and equitable solution in the circumstances and the one I would urge the interim government to adopt.” (Click HERE to read Simons’ full statement.)
The Attorney General has said there is no established procedure for changing park boundaries, and that the law would have to be amended to create such a process.
The former government hired Nautilus in 2006 to review the country’s Protected Area System (PAS) and give the pros and cons of allowing development in protected areas. Nautilus said that money the government and developers would make on resort and residential development in protected areas would be a limited one-time benefit, but that a fully established PAS would provide sustainable income and enjoyment for locals and tourists while protecting the environment that makes the country “beautiful by nature.”
Instead of spending money on developing the PAS, the former government was pursuing resort and residential development in those areas with little opposition from the public, the report said.
“There is limited outcry to instances of encroachment of the PAS when most of the indigenous population are more interested in knowing when and how they will benefit materially from the economic success story that is the TCI,” the report said.
In addition to the land allocations in the 3,607-acre Chalk Sound National Park, the former government also allocated land and allowed subdivision of property in the adjacent Pigeon Pond and Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve on the southwestern tip of Provo.
The interim government says the same restrictions apply to anyone who got property in that reserve — no construction that is prohibited by law.
That 5,910-acre reserve was ranked by Nautilus to be the most important protected area on Providenciales as home to 163 endangered or threatened species of plants, birds, reptiles and insects — the most in the country. It is second in national importance only to the North, Middle and East Caicos Nature Reserve, which is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
The former government was considering a number of proposed developments in the Pigeon Pond and Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve, including residential development, condominiums, a golf course, a hotel and a beach complex, the report said.
“We are of the view that the entertainment of such developments by the government, by TCInvest and by the Planning Department transmits a very poor signal to everyone concerning the commitment of the government to the PAS, but also reflects poor comprehension of the significant economic value locked up within the PAS, value that can only be released through committed investment in opening up the Parks, Reserves and Sites of Historic Interest to the public,” Nautilus said in its report.
The problems facing these important public areas are caused by limited local knowledge of where the sites are and why they are protected, the belief that the PAS is off-limits to the public, a lack of facilities to encourage public access and use, and pressure from developers, the report said.
Nautilus recommended increased funding for the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources so that it can concentrate on managing parks, reserves and sanctuaries.
“Failure to protect the quality of the environment, and to properly conserve those features of the environment that have special value, will result in a devaluation of the value of these assets which will appear first in a slow down in economic growth, and secondly as a reduction in the well-being of residents and visitors, and a reduction in the quality of life of the resident population,” the report said.
Click HERE to read the complete Nautilus report.
|Last Updated on Monday, 19 July 2010 16:27|
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TCI Protected Areas Series
The fp is publishing a series of articles on the Turks and Caicos Islands Protected Area System to increase public awareness and respect for the beauty and value of this "beautiful by nature" country.
The authors, marine ecologist Marsha Pardee and terrestrial ecologist Kathleen Wood, are long-time TCI residents and respected scientists in their fields.
Below are links to their articles, plus related news articles, documents and laws.
- 29/7/10: Chalk Sound National Park: Beauty and ecology
- 22/7/10: Protected Areas designations and differences
- 15/7/10: Long-term prosperity vs. short-term gain
- 8/7/10: Protected Areas save environment, generate revenue
- 5/8/10: Frenchman’s Creek: Prime real estate of TCI wetlands
Related news articles
- 1/7/10: Expert report warned about encroachment on protected areas
- 8/7/10: More than 250 lots carved in Provo parks
Links to environmental documents and laws