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Man’s impact on the natural environment to be the focus of Wingate lecture

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Warwick Academy is using the occasion of its own 350th anniversary to recognise the impact of more than 400 years of permanent settlement of Bermuda on the Island’s native inhabitants birds.

The school will join with the Bermuda Audubon Society to host a special public lecture today entitled, ‘From Oceania to suburbia: 400 years of dramatic change to Bermuda’s bird community’.

Guest speaker is former Government conservation officer David Wingate. He will explore the impact on the natural environment since the Island was first settled in 1609.

“Bermuda’s environmental history can be discovered through the fossil records in prehistory and later through the eyewitness accounts of settlers, amateur naturalists and scientists over the centuries,” said Dr Wingate.

“By drawing on those accounts, I hope to bring to life what Bermuda really was like back in the early days. Before man, birds were the most numerous species on the Island and it is through their story that I will trace the Island’s changes over 400 years.

“Although the changes since settlement have been devastating for Bermuda’s birds, it is not all bad news.

“The continuing success of the Cahow recovery programme, with 100 nesting pairs likely to be achieved this year, shows that there can be hope in this new millennium for man and birds to live together provided we are sensitive to our environment and protect what is left of our open space.”

Dr Wingate first gave this lecture in 2009 on the anniversary of the

Sea Venture shipwreck.

“This is not just for young people, although I hope a lot of the Warwick Academy students will go,” said Dr Wingate. “It is open to the general public as an adult lecture as well.”

The lecture will cover five eras: the discovery of Bermuda; the Bermuda Company period 1609 to 1684; privateering; the building of the Dockyard and the post-war era of urbanisation.

“I will cover these five eras with quotes from people who studied bird life at the time,” he stated.

Andrew Dobson, president of the Bermuda Audubon Society, has spoken frequently about threats facing the bluebird.

“You don’t need a special interest in birds to find the story of the Island’s changing natural landscape fascinating,” said Mr Dobson, a teacher at Warwick Academy.

“David Wingate has the most comprehensive knowledge of Bermuda’s environmental history of anyone alive and we are delighted that he will be sharing that with the public.”

Tonight’s lecture is at Warwick Academy at 7pm. Tickets are available at the door $10 for adults and $5 for children. Proceeds will be shared between the Bermuda Audubon Society and the Warwick Academy student bursary fund.

David Wingate, giving a lecture tonight on environmental change over 400 years of settlement.
Photo by Andrew Dobson Longtail glides over South Shore.
File photo by Chris Burville A Cahow glides over the south side of Nonsuch Island as it searches for a nesting site.

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Published March 23, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 23, 2012 at 9:21 am)

Man’s impact on the natural environment to be the focus of Wingate lecture

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