|Protected Areas save environment, generate revenue|
|Written by Marsha Pardee and Kathleen Wood|
|Thursday, 08 July 2010 10:10|
TCI Protected Areas
In 1992, a total of 33 Protected Areas were set aside for the conservation and preservation of the Turks and Caicos Islands' natural resources. The sites were chosen for outstanding natural and cultural attributes and designated as National Parks, Nature Reserves, Sanctuaries and Historic Sites.
Environmentally, Protected Areas preserve a mosaic of natural marine, wetland and terrestrial habitats, which in turn protect the plants and animals that exist within them. Economically, protecting habitats and the resources they provide ensures long-term financial sustainability.
For instance, protecting marine habitats that contain mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs helps to ensure that fisheries resources continue to thrive. These resources provide not only food, but also generate revenues from the fishing and tourism industries.
Tourists pay big bucks to snorkel and dive on our fish-laden reefs, kayak through our mangrove areas and fish in the crystal clear waters off the major reefs. And from those same tourists, the majority our business ventures, incomes and government revenues are derived.
As a small island nation, activities at land and sea are intimately connected. Pristine wetlands, forests, woodlands and shrublands act as biological filters preventing the runoff of sediment and contaminants into sensitive marine habitats. Terrestrial areas are also a reservoir of biodiversity, providing habitat for our native species, many of which are found only in this country.
Resources with economic value produced by nature on land include valuable medicinal plants, hardwoods and textiles. Maintaining the integrity of our coastal areas helps to protect us from hurricanes and other major storm events.
Worldwide, Protected Area Systems (PAS) are used as a tool to not only protect and conserve habitats and plant and animal species, but also to improve the human condition. Lest we forget: Our very existence depends on the natural bounty the earth provides.
Well-managed Protected Areas are self-sustaining, generating revenue streams, which can be used to employ people for maintenance and operations. Myriad other business opportunities are also created by a robust Protected Areas network.
In April 2005, the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources retained the services of an environmental consulting firm (EDSA) to report on “Belonger Business Opportunities in Protected Areas.” Many interested local stakeholders were involved in the community-based consultations that comprised the findings and recommendations of this report.
Additionally, in 2006 another report was commissioned by government for the “Review and Re-evaluation of the Protected Area System” (Nautilus Consultants, Sept. 2006). This report reviewed both the economical and ecological values of each individual Protected Area.
From an ecological standpoint, few changes were recommended. The Protected Areas as they exist are an outstanding representation of the country’s ecological resources. They can be improved by increasing buffer zones around boundaries and providing corridors between various sites. Economically, the above studies recommended an “opening up” of the Protected Areas to facilitate public access, use and economic opportunities.
With that in mind, our column will focus on the ecological values and economic benefits of each Protected Area. First, we’ll give you a rundown of what the Public Area designations are, what’s allowed to happen in them and some basic descriptions of habitat types. But there ends the techno talk.
Then we’ll expound on the virtues of the Protected Areas — “What’s cool about the place” and “What’s in it for me.” Our hope is that we’ll get people out to see our fabulous Protected Areas and inspire residents to develop creative ideas to utilize the resources they provide.
We also hope that we’ll all have a better understanding and appreciation for these areas that represent our best chance for long-term sustainability, both individually and as a country.
Terrestrial ecologist and Master Gardener Kathleen Wood, B.Sc., is a Permanent Resident of the TCI, dividing her time between the Turks and Caicos and North Carolina. She is the author of many publications including the book, “Flowers of the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.” She has worked for the public and private sectors on many environmental projects in the Bahamas, TCI and U.S. Anyone interested in discussion on a broad range of environmental issues can follow Kathleen on her blog at www.killingmother.blogspot.com.
|Last Updated on Monday, 27 September 2010 14:02|
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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