|Protected Areas designations and differences|
|Written by Marsha Pardee and Kathleen Wood|
|Thursday, 22 July 2010 09:23|
TCI protected areas
Meaningful environmental conservation involves much more than just putting up fences to keep nature in and people out.
In order to maintain sustainable ecological integrity, conservationists must take into consideration multiple variables such as sensitive habitats, breeding, nesting and migration behaviors, recreational use, human needs and ecological productivity to name a few.
With this in mind, the 33 Protected Areas designated under the 1992 National Parks Ordinance are designed to accommodate the needs of man and nature and incorporate a total of 11 National Parks, 11 Nature Reserves, four Sanctuaries and seven Historic Sites located throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands archipelago.
The various designations accommodate areas of outstanding aesthetic, natural and/or cultural significance both on land and in the sea. They tell us a bit about the conservation objective for each Protected Area.
Legally speaking, the highest level of environmental protection is afforded to the Sanctuaries in which even human entry is regulated in the interest of preserving the prime conservation concern.
The primary goal of a Sanctuary is to preserve critical habitats, individual species or even a life stage of a species, which are vulnerable to human disturbances. In the case of the TCI designated Sanctuaries, candidacy was based upon documented nesting sites for regionally and globally significant populations of birds and other threatened and endangered species.
Nature Reserves offer the next highest level of protection for the natural ecology of an area. Development permitted in these areas is limited to types considered more in balance with the natural ecology, such as farming (plants, trees, fish), sporting and recreational activities. Even these activities would undergo stringent review (especially where buildings are warranted) prior to issuance of approvals.
Nature Reserves have a dual focus where humans and their interaction with the natural environment are concerned. They are meant to help conserve representative rare or attractive habitats and the organisms that live in them, to help maintain vital physical and ecological processes and services, and to also reserve areas as recreational and educational resources for local residents and tourists alike.
For National Parks, the key words in terms of designation status are to “facilitate enjoyment of the public” while minimizing degradation of the varying protected habitats. This designation serves as a framework for the promotion, conservation and management of sites where keeping the environment in quality condition is key to promoting the tourism and recreational opportunities they provide.
More leniencies in terms of development opportunities are offered here, as long as the opportunities offered are not in any way restrictive to the general public. That means any structures that are allowed in these areas should facilitate access or provide for the safety and enjoyment of the general public.
Similarly, Areas of Historical Interest are meant to conserve an area of cultural/ historic significance but also allow access to that area by the general public. If found within another area designated as National Park, Nature Reserve or Sanctuary, Areas of Historical Interest are also be under the same restrictions reserved for those designations.
In principle, any development within a Protected Area should adhere to “conforming use” criteria, a term coined in the early stages of creating the Protected Areas legislation.
Unfortunately, the criteria have never been clearly defined, but confirming use is meant to provide for development activities that ensure public access and facilitate public use and enjoyment of the Parks, Nature Reserves and Areas of Historic Interest. In the case of Sanctuaries, conforming uses are for the explicit and necessary purpose of management and conservation of the area.
In present times, conforming use has been stretched to the nth degree, particularly in terms of approved development in the National Parks and Nature Reserves. Whether development is permitted or not within Protected Areas, conforming use insists without exception, that any and all development within a Protected Area takes place in the interest of facilitating the enjoyment by the general public while at the same time preserving natural integrity.
Conforming use will NEVER include private development for individual, financial gain that excludes the general public and simultaneously harms the environment. For this reason, the developments allowed in the Chalk Sound National Park and the Pigeon Pond and Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve were in violation of the National Parks Ordinance, and therefore, illegal.
Conservation of natural attributes is the key to developing a Protected Areas system; however, an effective system also takes into consideration long-term, sustainable economic gains for human populations. The identity of the TCI in the worldwide tourism market is “Beautiful By Nature.” The Protected Areas will keep bread and butter on our tables for years to come only if we keep them intact.
For more information on Protected Areas, visit the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources Web site
Marine ecologist Marsha Pardee, M.Sc., is a Permanent Resident of the TCI, living here for nearly 20 years. She is a member of the government’s Scientific Authority Committee and a consultant for environmental management and aquaculture projects, working for both public and private sectors. She has taught many of the country’s children in local schools and in the DECR’s Junior Park Warden Program on Providenciales.
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 14:03|
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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