Precious: Our coral reefs, home to rich marine life, are among our best natural assets. *File photo
Precious: Our coral reefs, home to rich marine life, are among our best natural assets. *File photo

BEST’s Blueprint on sustainable development aims to outline what it means to be a sustainable community and what it will take to get there.

Over the coming weeks the Bermuda Sun will continue publishing the text of the Blueprint, section by section.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 17: Bermuda has few natural resources. Those we do have are stretched. External forces, well beyond our control, are contributing to rapidly rising food prices. Farmers are struggling to pay for imported feed.

There is an urgent need to not only protect land designated for agriculture but to ensure that it is used for agriculture, perhaps the development of more community gardens in each parish?

Problems with the invasive lionfish have been highlighted, solutions offered.

Sterling work by the Dept of Conservation Services has given a much-needed lifeline to endangered species and the fishing industry.

Habits of over-consumption and waste need addressing if we are to approach a sustainable relationship with Bermuda’s natural resources.

A resource can be defined as a source or supply from which benefit is produced, with a natural resource being anything obtained from the environment that is used to satisfy human needs and wants.

Bermuda’s natural resources include rainwater, soil, fish stocks, corals, sand, cedar, limestone, clean air and abundant sunshine. 

Each plays an important role in satisfying local needs and/or enabling Bermudians to generate the income necessary to satisfy our wants. 

The Bermuda Government’s 2009 document entitled ‘A Strategy for the Sustainable Use of Bermuda’s Living Marine Resources’, for example, concludes that “Bermuda’s marine environment is one of our most valuable resources, being critical not only to the tourism industry but also the overall quality of life on the island.

“It provides a living for some, and recreation and relaxation for all.”

In other words, these natural resources are critical both to our survival and our quality of life.

Natural resource management is concerned with the management of such resources with a particular focus on how such management affects the quality of life for both present and future generations.

Bermuda already has laws and regulations in place to protect our natural resources.

However, the active monitoring and enforcement of such rules are critical to their effectiveness, as is a closer adherence to the rules and to established procedures, particularly by policy and decision-makers.

Protection for agricultural and other conservation-zoned areas is especially in need of stringent attention.

In addition to sustainably managing our valuable resource base, we must also be looking for further opportunities to enhance and benefit from it.

Bermuda averages 7.1 hours of sunshine per day, for example, providing high potential for solar energy opportunities.  Similarly, Bermuda is one of the few remaining locations in the world with relatively healthy reefs.

Stepping up protections, possibly in the form of a marine park or parks, and promoting eco-tourism and scientific research projects would have the dual benefit of enhancing our marine life and attracting revenue. 

BEST encourages all interested parties to uphold and strengthen existing resource and land zoning protections, and push for re-development of “brownfield” sites as preferable to new development on “greenfield” sites.

BEST supports a tightening of Ministerial discretion so that the overturning of DAB decisions, the weakening of ‘Section 34’ covenants, and the encroachment on zoning protections would be restricted to instances where a credible, documented case is presented that such action is of national importance and to the benefit of all Bermudians.

This document was researched and written by members of the BEST research team led by: Alaina Cubbon, Stuart Hayward, Frances Marshall and Marlie Powell.

To explore these issues further, join us at BUEI on October 23rd for a showing of the documentary film (Trusting Rain) followed by discussion on “Bermuda’s Water Ways — Past Present and Future. Tickets $20, available at the Music Box (295-4839) and the BEST office (292-3782).

Next: Ecosystems and biodiversity.