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Vesey Nature Reserve formally opened

Bermuda celebrated Earth Day with the official opening of a new nature reserve in Southampton yesterday.

The eight-acre Vesey Nature Reserve has been saved from future development thanks to the generosity of Sharon Vesey, who donated the site to the Buy Back Bermuda group.

“The organisation — a joint initiative of the Bermuda National Trust and the Bermuda Audubon Society — has now renovated the area, which includes two quarries, a natural limestone sink hole and a variety of habitats, including mangroves, a lush woodland valley, an exposed hilltop and rocky shoreline.

At yesterday’s opening ceremony, olivewood trees were planted by Mrs Vesey, Governor George Fergusson, and Environment Minister Sylvan Richards.

“Vesey Nature Reserve is a tremendous new gift of open space for the Bermuda community and our visitors,” said Bermuda National Trust Executive Director Jennifer Gray.

“A great deal of work has gone into its restoration, making it a wonderful place for a family day out. Amenities include walking trails, interpretive signs, a quarry exhibit, plenty of places to picnic and for children to play, benches to relax on and an observation platform with a fabulous view of the Sound.

“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day and we urge everyone to come and enjoy this reserve, while respecting the wildlife and plants of this spectacularnatural space.”

The reserve is located off Middle Road, between Evan’s Bay Road and Rockaway. It includes part of the valley containing Evan’s Pond and a ridgeline extending all the way to the Little Sound. Much of the reserve restoration was carried out by teams of volunteers from HSBC, Butterfield Bank, Lancashire Re and Bermuda Audubon Society, under the direction of David Outerbridge of the National Trust and David Wingate of the Audubon Society.

The volunteers culled thousands of invasive plants, planted many native and endemics and helped to clear pathways.

The reserve features a number of interpretive signs and a quarry exhibit with an authentic five foot quarry saw.

Dr Edward Harris of the National Museum provided information on quarrying in Bermuda and Dr David Wingate provided expertise on the reserve’s flora, fauna and natural features.

The Vesey site is the second nature reserve opened to the public through the Buy Back Bermuda campaign. Six years ago, it opened the Somerset Long Bay East Nature Reserve.

And a third project is in the pipeline after the group bought up another piece of open space, Eva’s Pond, in Hamilton Parish.

“Buy Back Bermuda has raised $4.2 million and been able to conserve 14 acres of open space in total,” said former Premier David Saul, who chaired the fundraising campaigns.

“In addition to funding the restoration of the Vesey Nature Reserve, the $2.4 million raised in Campaign II allowed us to purchase a piece of open space in Hamilton Parish known as Eve’s Pond, which is next on the list for restoration.

“A portion of the funds has been set aside for ongoing maintenance of both reserves.”

Mrs Gray added: “Buy Back Bermuda maintains a list of open spaces under potential threat and will launch CampaignIII when appropriate.

“Thanks to PartnerRe we have $300,000 in the bank ready to make a down payment on the next piece of open space that needs saving.

“Meanwhile we continue to accept donations to Buy Back Bermuda that will be put towards our next purchase.”

Photo by Mark Tatem Governor George Fergusson and donor Sharon Vesey cut the ribbon officially opening the Vesey Nature Reserve, which is located near the Port Royal gas station in Southampton, off Middle Road, between Evan’s Bay Road and Rockaway. It includes part of the valley containing Evan’s Pond and a ridgeline extending all the way to the Little Sound.

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Published April 23, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 22, 2013 at 11:13 pm)

Vesey Nature Reserve formally opened

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