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Island asked to play key conservation role

Minister Cole Simons (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda has been asked to play a leading role in defining international conservation guidelines, according to the Ministry of the Environment.

According to a spokeswoman, Cole Simons, the Minister for the Environment, was invited to speak at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature at their world congress, which was held in Hawaii last weekend.

The IUCN — a membership union composed of both government and civil society organisations — is dedicated to providing public, private and non-governmental organisations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.

In addition to being invited to make a presentation, Mr Simons received an invitation by the body for the island to play a “leading role” in defining guidelines for marine and terrestrial environment conservation in the wake of the 2010 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which called for the protection of ten per cent of the world’s coastal and marine areas by 2020.

Mr Simons said: “I believe that defining these conservation guidelines represents a unique opportunity to celebrate Bermuda’s present and historic conservation achievements. The conservation discussion will take into account our healthy reefs, terrestrial parks and wreck dive sites, affording us future opportunities to generate funding for important science projects and the promotion of tourism.

“Let me be clear: this exercise involves valuing other effective forms of conservation that we already have in practice and law — these may include our endemic species protections, some of our fisheries regulations, and our protected wreck sites, all of which protect nature but are not included in the definition of marine protected area or terrestrial national parks.

“It is about valuing what is successful about Bermuda’s terrestrial and marine environment in ways that will stimulate public awareness on the island.”

Mr Simons added: “The discussion about conservation measures will be new and internationally important. It puts Bermuda back in its rightful place as a leading player in the global conservation debate. It enables Bermuda and her people to celebrate and reinforce the protections for nature she already has.”