Fears the Botanical Gardens could be lost for future generations
The Botanical Gardens could be lost to future generations unless a proper management plan is introduced, a government landscape architect has warned.
Danny Simmons said that government staff could face a “wide range of issues” such as uncontrolled health and safety risks and unfulfilled legal requirements if the Botanical Gardens continued to be neglected.
He added: “The Botanical Gardens have a great deal of value, but pressing needs and prolonged neglect will mean greater losses for all of us unless interim measures are adopted.”
Mr Simmons, who has stepped up to develop a pre-management plan for the Botanical Gardens, was speaking during a virtual Eco Lunch and Learn held by the Bermuda College and the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Task Group.
The strategic plan will be used as a precursor to a management plan and establish what needs to be done before further revamps for the garden can take place.
Mr Simmons also said that, although management plans for the gardens had to be renewed every ten years, the present plan could not be redrawn in 2014 because of a lack of cash.
He added that, while a management plan was needed, matters such as safety regulations and standards were “too urgent to wait for the long lead process that’s typically required for a management plan to be tabled”.
Mr Simmons explained that most facilities were being neglected due to lack of management, which resulted in many health and safety problems, such as electrical hazards in buildings, starting to pile up.
He added that much of the infrastructure was also in need of repair, with several plant houses and the aviary having been closed down and not reopening.
Mr Simmons said that the problem might have been linked to the lack of government spending on parks over the last six years, despite increased use and maintenance pressures on parks.
He added: “It shouldn’t be overlooked that the previous management plan for the Botanical Gardens pointed to this sort of funding issue.
“Botanical Garden projects are still awaiting needed funding and the previous plan validates that need and the call for strategy.”
Mr Simmons said that one fifth of the 184 reviews of the Botanical Gardens collected from tourists and locals between 2012 and 2019 listed the gardens as “terrible”.
He added that about half of them also reviewed the gardens as being “average”, “poor” or “terrible”.
Mr Simmons said that, despite the problems, the Botanical Gardens could be helped with “relatively modest funding”.
He added that the Government would “not be able to do it all” and would have to look at private sector partnerships with the creation of a charity to fund the Botanical Gardens.
Mr Simmons said that the operational requirements for the Botanical Gardens had been assessed and a list of repairs drawn up.
But he emphasised that a steering committee had to be set up inside the next three months, as well as the accreditation of the Botanical Gardens to global standards.
Mr Simmons suggested the creation of a professional Botanical Gardens committee, which should have assigned members within six months.
“Even in it’s current state, the Botanical Gardens still have international recognition that draws scientific and tourism attention today.
“These are resources that we want to enjoy for ever. We want our children – our grandchildren, or great-grandchildren – to be able to enjoy them.
“If we destroy them now then they won’t have that opportunity, so we’ve got to find a way to live together.”
The Bermuda Botanical Gardens have been around for 125 years and possess 27 plant collections with more than 2,000 plants and more than 300 species.