Action to protect one of island’s last mangrove forests approved
An effort to protect mangroves at Hungry Bay from the impact of climate change has been approved by the Department of Planning.
The plan put forward by Hungry Bay residents proposed the construction of a seawall to replace a natural breakwater destroyed by hurricanes at the South Shore site.
A planning report said: “It is evident by the details of the submission that action needs to be taken to preserve one of the last remaining tracts of mangrove forests on the island.
“With the threat of sea level rise and more frequent and intense storms caused by the effects of climate change, the need for more substantial solutions to coastal management will increase.”
The planning application submitted this year by the Hungry Bay Restoration Committee and property owner James Tucker proposed a four-foot seawall to block a gap in the shoreline caused by Hurricane Fabian and expanded by later storms.
The application said that since 2003 increased wave action in the bay had caused mangroves in the area to recede and further loss was “inevitable” unless action was taken.
The Marine Resources Board said it supported the proposal, but raised concerns that the concrete wall could redirect wave energy towards other areas sparking erosion there.
The Bermuda Audubon Society said that it supported the intention to protect and restore the mangrove area, but attention needed to be paid to potential “unintended consequences” to the surrounding environment such as changes in sand flow.
A planning report recommended the Development Applications Board approved the application stating there was little debate about the potential effectiveness of the proposed revetment.
“The revetment is to be sited in a way that replaces a section of the naturally occurring breakwater that has collapsed some years ago and it is clear that the increased water flow from the breach has prevented the seeding of the red mangroves on the seaward edge of the existing forest,” the report said.
“While the positive effects of the development may take years to come to fruition, the applicant notes that a protected special permit has been granted to collect and plant more mangrove seedlings in Hungry Bay.”
The report writer added that conditions of approval had been proposed to ensure the welfare of protected species.
“The potential effects of sand movement and changing erosion patterns are noted by all parties. However, the general consensus is that the potential risks should not result in inaction,” the report said.
“Given the siting of the revetment, it should be noted that it is highly possible that the sand movement may revert to its original pattern prior to 2003.
“The use of a boulder revetment in front of the seawall will help to absorb rather than reflect wave energy, which will help to mitigate adverse changes in wave energy and sand movement.
“In addition, the height of the wall has been kept to a maximum of 4ft in order to allow some spillover into the bay during periods of rough weather. This would replicate the effects the former breakwater had on the relationship between the offshore and inshore waters.”