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Club seeking urgent talks with Government over mangroves

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Felled: The mangroves that were cut down at the Mid-Ocean Club

A private members club has hit back after it was denounced in Parliament for destroying a swathe of mangroves.

The Mid-Ocean Club is now seeking urgent talks with the Government after it was attacked by Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, for the “destruction” of the natural habitat.

Mr Roban did not name the private members club in a statement to MPs on Friday, but angrily criticised it after “a group of healthy mature red mangroves, about 20 very mature specimens, which were 30 to 40 feet high, were cut to four-foot stumps”.

A statement issued by the Mid-Ocean Club to its members said: “The club is very concerned and will be fully investigating the allegation that the trimming may have harmed the trees.

“The club believed that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources were both aware of and fully on board with the work.

“As recently as April 11, 2023 our staff met a member of the department to discuss the work.

“We had a further meeting on April 24 and the department staff told the club to cease trimming the mangroves at the 5th hole, but gave permission to continue trimming the mangroves at the 12th hole.

“The club will be looking into how miscommunications may have arisen and how to prevent this from reoccurring in the future.

“The club prides itself on its environmental stewardship and fully appreciates the benefits, and the value, of its mangroves.

”We are seeking an urgent meeting with the department to discuss this.

“We will be making these points robustly to the minister and will report back to the members.”

The Mid-Ocean Club which is seeking talks with the Government in a row over mangroves that were allegedly cut down (File photograph)

The comments come after Mr Roban said he would “name, shame and prosecute” a club for the destruction of mangroves.

In an emotional speech to the House of Assembly, Mr Roban, branded the incident as “unacceptable”, and warned that the people responsible could be liable to one year in prison, or a $15,000 fine.

The minister told MPs: “The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is investigating a major incident on the property of an exclusive private club, which has significantly impacted a large stand of protected mangroves.

“In the incident, a group of healthy mature red mangroves, about 20 very mature specimens, which were 30 to 40 feet high, were cut to four-foot stumps.

“Unfortunately, this was one area … noted as being one of the island’s healthiest mangrove areas and even increasing in size, in contrast to many coastal areas.

“This to me, in no way, shape or form, can be considered “routine maintenance”.

“Unfortunately, the DENR estimates perhaps 90 per cent of the mangroves’ ecological value is now gone.

“This is unacceptable. I can assure you that we will be pursuing charges and penalties against the offending entity, which will also include publicly naming and shaming them.”

Referring to laws that list red and black mangroves as level-two protected species, Mr Roban said: “Persons who do not have the approved authorisation may commit an offence which is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $15,000, or one year of imprisonment.”

Mr Roban said the destruction would have a negative impact on the environment.

He said: “It could not have been undertaken at a worse time for the protected green heron, right in the middle of its nesting season.

“It will realistically take decades for the mangroves to grow back if they do at all.”

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Published May 22, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated May 22, 2023 at 2:10 pm)

Club seeking urgent talks with Government over mangroves

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