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Open space needs more protection, say campaigners

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Kim Smith: Save open spaces (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Kim Smith, executive director of the Bermuda Envioronmental Sustainability Taskforce (Photograph provided)

A coalition of environmental groups yesterday appealed to the Government to strengthen protection of nature reserves.

Kim Smith, the executive director of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, said the island had lost “protected” land to development.

In an opinion in today’s Royal Gazette, Ms Smith said: “Bermuda’s green space is rapidly diminishing because we are not adhering to our own conservation guidelines.

“It is particularly affecting areas of open space, and woodland, agricultural and coastal reserves.

“This is of major concern to local environmental organisations, as it should be to everyone.”

Ms Smith said BEST had joined forces with the Audubon Society, The Garden Club of Bermuda and the Bermuda National Trust to ask the Government to beef up protections and uphold the zoning established in the 2018 Draft Bermuda Plan.

She added: “The Draft Bermuda Plan appropriately aspires to balance development with environmental protection.

“However, in practice, a steady loss of our protected lands is taking place. Once a parcel of land is developed, it is lost for generations, if not forever.”

Ms Smith also asked the Government to consider compensation for property owners whose land contained reserves to help ensure their continued protection.

She admitted that the construction industry was vital to the island’s economy, but insisted that there was no need to develop conservation land.

Ms Smith said: “We have enough buildings in varying conditions that can be redeveloped, creating similar construction activity and value.

“We also have urbanised areas and brownfield sites that can be further developed without impinging on undeveloped sites.”

The group also asked members of the public to petition their MPs on the need to protect the island’s natural resources and ask them to honour restrictions already in place.

Ms Smith also asked the public to donate to Buy Back Bermuda – a body dedicated to land preservation – and stay aware of development projects around them.

She added: “If Bermuda follows these steps, we have a better chance of preserving our conservation zones for the benefit of our children and grandchildren, while at the same time allowing development that will boost Bermuda’s economy.”

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Published November 25, 2020 at 9:20 am (Updated November 25, 2020 at 9:19 am)

Open space needs more protection, say campaigners

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