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Hungry Bay residents bid to save ‘key’ mangrove forest

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Graphic showing the retreat of the mangroves at Hungry Bay over the past century. (Image from planning documents)

Hungry Bay area residents have put forward a planning application intended to help protect the island’s largest remaining patch of mangroves.

According to a recent planning application the Hungry Bay Restoration Committee and property owner James Tucker hope to create a 4ft high seawall to block a gap in the shoreline formed by Hurricane Fabian.

Bermuda Environmental Consulting Ltd, agents for the application, said historical maps had shown the “retreat” of the mangroves at the South Shore, Paget bay.

Dead mangrove trunks at Hungry Bay. (Image from planning documents)

That process had been accelerated in recent years after a gap formed in the rocks that once protected the bay.

The firm said: “In 2003, Hurricane Fabian broke through the natural rock barrier that shelters the bay, creating a breach that has been enlarged by subsequent hurricanes and the net result is more wave energy impacting the mangroves and further destruction.

“Thus, unless and until the breach is repaired, it will continue to expand, allowing for more mangrove loss.”

The application added that the breach had also allowed offshore reef sand to wash into the bay which has made the area more amenable for mangrove replanting, but such work would be futile if the gap in the coastline is not repaired.

The firm added: “Bermuda faces many challenges with regard to climate change and is limited in its capacity to solve them all.

“The steady loss of Hungry Bay is inevitable without action.”

The firm highlighted the environmental importance of Bermuda’s mangroves, which have been hard hit by development around the island’s coastlines.

“Mangroves have long been recognised as a key feature in healthy coral reef ecosystems such as Bermuda’s as they stabilise sediments, control coastal erosion and provide feeding habitat and nurseries for a wide range of marine species,” the application documents said.

“More recently, with concern over carbon-induced climate change they are increasingly seen as important carbon sinks.

“Throughout the world these important coastal forests are in decline.”

A gap in the coastline at Hungary Bay caused by Hurricane Fabian. (Image from planning documents)

The application noted the project’s location would present challenges as there was no direct route to carry materials to the site.

However it was proposed that workers would be able to wade to the site and boats or barges could be used at high tide to carry supplies close to the breach.

The application noted that protected West Indian topshells were found in the area, but could easily be moved away from the work site or any pathways to be used by workers.

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Published May 23, 2022 at 7:54 am (Updated May 23, 2022 at 7:44 am)

Hungry Bay residents bid to save ‘key’ mangrove forest

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