Information Officer I (Ag.)
Department of Information and Public Relations
STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE VINCENT O. WHEATLEY
MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES, LABOUR & IMMIGRATION
SEVENTH SITTING OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
THURSDAY, 29TH APRIL, 2021
Mangroves Replanting Efforts Throughout the Territory
Mister Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to update this Honourable House on the progress made to date on the national mangrove replanting efforts to restore their extent throughout the Territory.
I acknowledge the invaluable assistance rendered to the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration by several partners including the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, Government departments and various community partners aiming to reverse the losses of this critical habitat after the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) has built the infrastructure for a nursery to cultivate 2,000 red mangrove seedlings with the financial support of Unite BVI.
In my former report, I was pleased to announce that several community groups including the Youth Empowerment Project, Rotary and others have planted 860 seedlings at Sea Cow's Bay, Frenchman's Cay, a damaged section of Paraquita Bay and Beef Island. The Caribbean Sustainable Fisheries provided an additional 290 seedlings, which will be out planted in North Sound, Jost Van Dyke and the Nanny Cay areas. This partnership represents 155 volunteers from community groups, youth organisations and private sector entities engaged in planting or educational activities related to mangroves restoration and increasing coastal resilience. A further 107 persons from schools, community-based organisations and private businesses have been engaged in planting or hands-on education at the Mangrove nursery. During the month of April alone, an additional 383 seedlings raised in the HLSCC mangrove nursery have been planted at new sites which include Brandywine Bay, Manuel Reef and North Sound around Bitter End Yacht Club.
In partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Ministry, HLSCC and the National Parks Trust, assessments for the feasibility of restoration across the Territory have been carried out during the first quarter of the year and operational plans for restoration of mangroves are underway for all four major inhabited islands (JVD, Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Tortola) with funding support provided by the UK’s Darwin Plus Initiative. Through this growing Territory-wide movement, feasibility for the addition of localised mangrove seedling nurseries have been carried out in Anegada and Virgin Gorda.
Mister Speaker with these collective efforts I can proudly state that the goal of planting 1000 mangroves in 1000 days has not only been met but now surpassed. This however, does not mean that we will relent in our efforts. To the contrary, we will redouble them by expanding the list of areas that will be replanted over the next months.
The replanting of mangroves cannot replace the loss of healthy mangrove communities that are destroyed with unauthorised reclamation projects and other activities. Mister Speaker, in the Speech from the Throne detailing our legislative priorities, we restated our intent to introduce environmental legislation this year. In that legislation, we will create what will be known as Environmentally Sensitive Species, which will be afforded a higher degree of protection. I pledge that one of the first species to be listed, once the legislation is passed, will be mangroves. This resource must be protected from further loss and to that effect, Government will put in place measures to ensure its long-term survivability.
Mister Speaker, these collective efforts represent a united approach to ensure that mangrove habitats are restored throughout the Territory. Their importance in ensuring coastline stability and to act as habitat for biodiversity and fisheries cannot be overstated. I would like to thank all of those community minded individuals who give of their time and energy to care for our natural environment. We will all benefit from restored and fully vibrant mangrove communities that will benefit our communities and provide shoreline protection, food security, biodiversity conservation and aesthetic values to all of us.
Thank you Mister Speaker.