Mangroves remain vulnerable

| 23/02/2011

(CNS): With no sign of the National Conservation Law, the country’s dwindling mangroves remain extremely vulnerable as more of the critical natural resource will be removed in the near future to accommodate the West Bay Road by-pass extension. Dart Realty cleared a strip of the crucial plant recently in order to do geo-technical work in the area where a new road is likely to go following its purchase of the land around the yacht club. However, far more will be destroyed when the full road project gets underway in the near future as, despite their critical importance, mangroves have no legal protection. These latest mangrove casualties join over 300,000 sq ft of mangrove removed by Orion Developers at the Ritz resort last year. (Photo Dennie Warren Jr)

“Mangroves are a critically important part of the island ecosystem which have special attributes that cause them to be particularly valuable from an environmental perspective,” the director of government’s environment department, Gina Ebanks-Petrie told CNS. “Without the National Conservation Law, mangroves, despite that importance, have no protection at all. Even mangrove which forms part of a buffer zone isn’t protected, as was demonstrated when the planning authority gave the Orion permission to remove over 370,000 square feet last year despite the DoE’s advice against it.”

The Ritz developer had promised that the mangrove he had removed last summer on the site where the new resort, Dragon Bay, is planned would be replenished. However, since Orion Developers made a significant number of staff connected to the Dragon Bay development redundant, including Ken Crews, one of the project leaders working on the mangrove project, concerns have been raised that the mangroves won’t be replaced at all.

CNS recently asked Orion what was happening with the project and we were told that it was ongoing with the first phase of transplanting and raising 4,000 mangrove plants complete. “The healthy plants are now ready to be placed within the buffer zone, and this phase of the replenishment project will soon begin under the guidance of expert environmentalists. We remain committed to the ongoing rehabilitation of the mangrove area, and look forward to the growth of healthy and pollutant free plants,” a spokesperson for the firm stated.

However, there have been no significant changes since CNS last visited the site soon after the mangrove buffer was removed last summer and if rehabilitation had been the main motivation the developer had other options, Ebanks-Petrie noted. She said that there was no need for the mangroves at the Dragon Bay site to have been removed as they were not, as the developer suggested, dead across the entire area. She noted that the small areas where the mangroves had been impacted by Hurricane Ivan prior to their removal were already showing strong signs of recovery and could have been helped along using other techniques.

The goal to replenish the zone is a difficult one as mangroves are notoriously difficult to replace once they have been removed and take a long time to reach the dense levels of those that were removed by Orion.

In the most recent case, the Dart group, which has on many occasions loudly proclaimed its environmental credentials, did not require planning permission to destroy the mangroves for testing purposes. Ebanks-Petrie said that the rest of the mangroves, which are likely to be targeted for clearance once the road direction is confirmed, do not form part of a buffer. So with no laws at their disposal, the director and her team will not be able to protect them. She did say that the developer didn’t need to remove so much of the habitat for testing purposes as she said there are ways to test the peat, levels and quality of the earth without completely clearing all of the plants. If the road now takes a different route then those mangroves would have been saved. However, the director pointed out that with plans moving ahead to extend the by-pass, which is already gazetted, the mangroves in the entire area are a lost cause.

The only thing that may be able to preserve what is left of the country’s mangrove is the long awaited National Conservation Law. Following the umpteenth consultation period of the law, which ended late summer, the director confirmed that the latest draft of the NCL is still waiting to go before the government for a decision and she had no more news on when the public could expect the Cabinet to discuss it.

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  1. NJ2Cay says:

    It’s Insurance that protects property not Trees…….Hide behind your insurance policy not mangroves, trust me you’ll be better off.

  2. UDP Supporter says:

    I don’t like you all bashing Mac like this. Just because people remove some mangroves everyone is up in arms. What is better – money or mangroves??? We need to develop this island economically and if the choice is better some trees and extra money, I’ll take the money. Come to West Bay and take all our mangroves and give us the money!!!

  3. anonymous says:

    After Ivan it is clear that mangroves DO NOT protect anything from waves. Barges and boats from the north sound went straight through and over them.

    They maybe habitat for little sea life ( good thing) but they definitely did not form an effective storm barrier! Please end this myth that mangroves are “storm protection” before someone really gets hurt hiding behind one of them in a hurricane.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 15:24 the majority of the mangroves are on the north coast. Where was the most significant wave damage – south coast.

      • anonymous 15:24 says:

        15:55 Lets see…. Hurricane Ivan passed by the South Coast …hmmmm…strange that most of damage was on that coast. I guarantee that if Ivan had passed north of this island we would still be picking up the pieces around the north sound. Anon 15:55, I am all for saving all the mangroves, do not get me wrong, but this “mangrove storm belt” is really just a myth. Think about it.

        • Anonymous says:

          Anon 15:15 good point that the damage was greatest at the point where the storm hit. However your point about the damage being the same if the hit was on the north coast is at best a guess. So please dont try to sell it as fact.

          Nature has a way of protecting things. the south coast gets most wave action so along that coast generally we have a lot of "ironshore" as well call it. That "ironshore" has a tendency to protect things as most suggest the mangroves do. But you dont want to replace the mangroves but remove them leaving no protection. Think about it.

          This is not about protection it is about money.

    • Anonymous says:

      When people say mangroves are ‘storm protection’ they’re not saying that the mangroves are inpentetrable barriers that will magically stop any wave coming at them dead in its tracks… but they do break waves up, and they also help stop the shore from being erroded away. But no, they’re not a force field.

    • Anony-Bayer says:

      Having driven under the bow of a stranded boat that came to rest, not in the mangroves, but in the roadway which had been cut through mangroves, I call a penalty on your anti-mangrove play.

      As someone else said, mangroves are not impenetrable. But where they were the damage was less, the boats didn’t go as far, as where they were not. The Yacht Club, for example. The boats went until they reached the mangroves.So the mangroves (even cleared as they had been) acted as a ‘storm buffer’ for what was on the other side of them. Could we have used more storm buffer in Ivan. Yes. We could have used more mangroves.

  4. Michel Lemay says:

    We need our mangroves protected and replaced where is possible. This sould be NO exception. We all know their importance,

  5. ALL SEEING says:

    Ezzard,PPM, please call for a referendum on protecting our Mangroves please. It’s Mac and his Millionaires vs The Mangroves. A political war worth waging.

  6. Eric Idle says:

    These mangroves cost boat owners in the yacht club millions of dollars once already. Had they not been there, the boats would have floated right on through to Seven Mile Beach undamaged in Hurricane Ivan. I say get them out of the there!

  7. peter milburn says:

    Our mangroves are paramount to protecting our sea shores and habitats for marine life regardless of whether they are right on the shoreline or further inland an impact will be felt.I am not in any way smearing the Dart foundation but just staing a fact.We need to protect our fast dwindling mangroves.When are you folks out there going to grasp this fact!!!!!?

  8. ALL SEEING says:

    Mac has waged war on the mangroves by never missing an opportunity to do some kind of development in the North Sound. This lover of Millionaire$ money shows just how shallow he truly is by destroying the most vulnerable terrain like our Mangroves at any cost. The real shame is our people don’t even seem to understand what’s happening.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why cant we plant some mangroves along the Bodden Town Breakers are. There are a few there now, but we would welcome more.

  10. Anonymous says:

    while coastal mangroves may provide some benefit…why are you smearing dart because they are lawfully removing inland vegetation?

    • Anonymous says:

      Pay attention

      Read the full article 09:23

    • Anonymous says:

      It would be a great benefit to the island as a whole if the private citizens would take some responsibility on their own, instead of doing whatever the law (or lack of) allows.


    • Anonymous says:

      To Anonymous Wed. 02/23/11  09:23     It may be lawful but is it right?