All CEP Technical Reports
CEP Technical Report No. 36 1996: Status of Protected
Area Systems in the Wider Caribbean Region
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS (UNITED KINGDOM)
Area 153 sq. km.
Protected Areas (PAs)
|PAs with Marine or Coastal Zones||Extension|
|World Heritage Sites||0||0||0|
Policy and Legislation
The National Parks Ordinance No. 29, 1961, as amended No. 3, 1978, established the National Parks Trust and provided for the creation of protected areas in the form of national parks to be managed by the Trust. The Marine Parks and Protected Areas Ordinance No. 8, 1979 provides for the creation of a range of categories of protected area, which includes multiple-use management areas, marine parks, and protected areas.
The Protection of Trees and Conservation of Soil Ordinance (Cap. 86) provides for protected forestry and water areas. The Trust currently manages Sage Mountain Protected Forest created under this Act. The Wild Birds Protection Ordinance (Cap. 98, 1959), as amended (1980), authorises the Governor to declare protected areas specifically as bird sanctuaries. The provisions of this ordinance also apply to birds in any marine park or protected area designated under the Marine Parks and Protected Areas Ordinance. More recently all bird sanctuaries in the country were subsumed under a new law which declared the entire British Virgin Islands as a bird sanctuary (Potter, pers. comm., 1992).
Other relevant legislation includes the Fisheries Ordinance No. 18, 1979, the Beach Protection Ordinance, 1985, and the Bird Sanctuary (Flamingo Pond, Anegada) Order, 1977. The Fisheries Ordinance authorises the Minister of Natural Resources to declare any water area within the exclusive fishing zone (200 miles) to be a protected area. All fishermen must obtain licences, and fisheries officers are empowered to confiscate fishing equipment and impose fines. Horseshoe Reef was declared a protected area under the Fisheries Ordinance in May 1990.
Several laws deal with protected areas, and this was one of a number of reasons which led to the government requesting technical assistance from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States in strengthening and updating its existing environmental legislation. A report was subsequently prepared on the existing legislation (Lausche 1986). Since then, two new pieces of environmental legislation have been drafted: a new Protected Areas and Wildlife Act, 1987, and a Coastal Conservation and Management Act, 1991. Once enacted, this comprehensive legislation is expected to make a major contribution to improving the territory's capacity for sound environmental planning and management (BVINPT/ECNAMP 1988).
The Protection of Trees and Conservation of Soil Ordinance (Cap. 86) lacks regulations, but contains stronger provisions on offences, enforcement, and legal proceedings than does the National Parks Ordinance. While bye-laws or regulations may be enacted for the management of national parks and the control of public activities under either Act, Lausche (1986) describes the present lack of regulations as a major deficiency. Regulations were passed in 1991 prescribing permitted activities in marine parks and a schedule for fees.
Conventions & Treaties
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 1992)
Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention, 1983)
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES, 1973)
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar, 1971)
Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage, 1972)
Programmes & Associations
Caribbean Conservation Association (CCA, 1967)
Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP, 1981) and its Specially Protected Areas & Wildlife Programme (SPAW, 1990)
The agency with responsibility for conservation management is the Department of Conservation and Fisheries, which comes under the portfolio of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour. The Ministry of Natural Resources is also responsible for agriculture, fisheries, forestry and mining.
The National Parks Trust, which takes its authority from the National Parks Ordinance, is responsible for the development and management of all potential and designated areas and the Botanic Gardens. The Department of Conservation and Fisheries and the National Parks Trust work closely in areas such as environmental monitoring and resource management. The development of a single conservation agency has been proposed (Cambers 1991).
Since 1980 the development of marine parks and protected areas has been the subject of collaboration between the government and the Eastern Caribbean Natural Areas Management Programme. An initial survey resulted in eight marine areas being identified as warranting protection (Jackson 1981). Following endorsement of these areas by the government, the project was extended into a second phase of research, planning and implementation. Two particular concerns were to integrate marine and terrestrial components of the protected area system, and to provide recreational areas for the local population. A further five areas were recommended (Jackson 1982).
The second phase of the project also aimed to achieve five objectives by the end of 1988: to improve fund-raising capability; to produce management plans for four existing areas; to consider studies submitted on seven proposed areas (Wreck of the Rhone Marine Park had already been declared) and make recommendations to the government; to improve conservation awareness among the public; and to improve relations with natural resource users, by involving interested parties in the management process.
In 1987, it was reported that the collaborative project had gone a considerable way in strengthening and supporting the National Parks Trust. The funding basis had been made more secure, a Trust Fund had been established, and a director appointed in 1985. Efforts were also being made to involve Trust members more actively in the work of the Trust. As part of this project a parks and protected areas system plan for the British Virgin Islands was prepared, which identifies the goals, objectives and management requirements of the national parks and protected areas system (BVINPT/ECNAMP 1986). The system plan was accepted by the government in 1987.
Other agencies involved in conservation include the BVI Dive Operators Association. Members of the Association have been involved in the management of Wreck of the Rhone Marine Park, activities have included surveillance and monitoring of the wreck and reefs, and explaining park regulations to visitors. They have also installed and maintained moorings at the dive site with support and collaboration from the National Parks Trust and government (Geoghegan et al 1991).
The British Virgin Islands comprise just over 40 islands, small cays, and rocks. The marine area of the territory is well over five times the size of the land mass. The four largest islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke. Geologically, the islands belong to the Greater Antilles. They rise along with the United States Virgin Islands from the Puerto Rican shelf, which lies about 65 m below sea level.
Most of the islands (with the exception of Anegada) were uplifted from submerged volcanoes and are formed from volcanic debris and metamorphosed sediments. The islands are dominated by steep hills fringed by narrow valleys and sparse mangroves. Most of the soils are light, and have limited water-holding capacity, which when combined with erratic rainfall patterns and insufficient forest cover to retard steep slope erosion deters high agricultural production.
The dominant natural vegetation is cactus scrub and dry woodland. Although much of e natural vegetation has been modified. Coral reefs surround many of the islands (UNEP/IUCN 1988, Walters 1984).
At present, terrestrial parks cover 2.1% of the land area. The system plan sought to define a system of parks and protected areas which would incorporate the existing parks into a larger system of comprehensive ecological units, in order to preserve the most important areas of natural and cultural heritage. Twelve additional parks were proposed, but none of these has yet been declared. This is partly due to the approach adopted in BVI of preparing management plans and strengthening institutions in advance of park declaration.
The six established protected areas cover a total of about 1,500 ha, which represents 10% of the islands landmass. Four of the six include some marine or coastal zones (Annex II). Significant progress has been made in the development of three of the proposed protected areas: South-western Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Horseshoe Reef, and North Sound Virgin Gorda (Cambers 1991). Management of these MPA's is considered effective. Management issues include improvement of revenue generation, staffing and training, and proper use of mooring buoys by yachtsmen (van't Hof 1993).
Anegada has been identified as an internationally important wildlife site containing endemic and endangered plant and animal species and important wetland habitats. It has the largest reef complex in the Lesser Antilles, with Horseshoe Reef forming an extension of the fringing reef surrounding the island. Horseshoe Reef is now protected and managed for conservation. Several proposals are being considered for the development of a terrestrial park for Anegada. Mapping of all of British Virgin Island's wetlands and mangroves has been carried out by the Department of Conservation and Fisheries within their Mangrove Management Programme.
The main economic activity is now tourism, which has expanded considerably in recent years (from 1978-1982 income from tourism nearly tripled). Development of the tourist industry has had an impact on natural habitats, by putting particular pressure on coastal wetlands and mangrove communities (Scott and Carbonell 1986). As the tourism industry is based on the marine environment, it was a significant factor leading to the development of protected areas in the islands.
National Parks Trust, PO Box 860, Road Town, TORTOLA Telephone: (809) 494-3904
BVI Dive Operators Association, PO Box 108, TORTOLA
Conservation and Fisheries Department, Road Town, TORTOLA Telephone: (809) 494-5651 to 2; Fax: (809) 494-4435
Town and Country Planning Department, PO Box 834, Road Town, TORTOLA Telephone: (809) 494-3444 (809) 494-3433; Fax: (809) 494-5794
Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Government House, Road Town, TORTOLA Telephone: (809) 494-3701 Fax: (809) 494-4283
BVINPT/ECNAMP (1986) A parks and protected areas system plan for the British Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands National Park Trust and Eastern Caribbean Natural Area Management Programme.
BVINPT/ECNAMP (1988) British Virgin Islands parks and protected areas project annual report 1987. The British Virgin Islands National Park Trust and the Eastern Caribbean Natural Areas Management Programme. 7 pp.
Cambers, G. (1991) The implementation of the National Parks System Plan in the British Virgin Islands. In: Cambers, G. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Regional Symposium public and private co-operation in National Park development. 23-25 August 1991. British Virgin Islands National Parks Trust, Tortola.
Geoghegan, T., Renard, Y. and Smith, A. (1991) Community participation in protected area management: some cases from the Caribbean. In: Cambers, G. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Regional Symposium public and private co-operation in National Park development. 23-25 August 1991, British Virgin Islands National Parks Trust, Tortola.
Jackson, I.L. (1981) A system of marine parks and protected areas for the British Virgin Islands. In: CNPPA (Ed.), Conserving the Natural Heritage of Latin America and the Caribbean. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. pp. 305-308.
Jackson, I.L. (1982) Marine tourism, fisheries and the development of parks and protected areas in the British Virgin Islands. Presented at a CCA/ECNAMP workshop, June 12, 1982.
Lausche (1986) British Virgin Islands, description of national legislation related to natural resources management (first stage analysis). Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Natural Resources Management Project, Castries. 48 pp.
Scott, D.A. and Carbonell, M. (1986) Directory of Neotropical wetlands. IWRB, Slimbridge and IUCN, Cambridge, UK. 684 pp.
UNEP/IUCN (1988) Coral Reefs of the World. Volume 1: Atlantic and Eastern Pacific. UNEP Regional Seas Directories and Bibliographies. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK/UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya. 373 pp.
Walters, L. (1984). British Virgin Islands. In: Wood, J. (Ed.), Proceedings of the workshop on biosphere reserves and other protected areas for sustainable development of small Caribbean Islands. USDI, National Park Service, Atlanta, Georgia. 190 pp.
ANNEX I: LEGAL INSTRUMENTS
Definitions of protected area designations, as legislated, together with authorities responsible for their administration.
Title: National Parks Ordinance No. 29, 1961, as amended No. 3, 1978.
Date: 1961 (amended 1978).
Brief description: Provides for the designation of national parks.
Administrative authority: National Park Trust
National Park The Ordinance does not provide substantive details relating to management or other provisions.
Title: The Marine Parks and Protected Areas Ordinance No. 8, 1979
Brief description: Enabling legislation for the designation of multiple use management areas as marine parks or protected areas.
Administrative authority: National Parks Trust
Marine Park or Protected Area (Multiple Use Management Area) Provides for the creation of a range of categories of protected area, including multiple use management areas. The Act also prohibits spear fishing, and damage or removal of flora or fauna within a marine park or protected area. While bye laws or regulations may be enacted for the management of parks and the control of public activities under either Act.
Title: The Protection of Trees and Conservation of Soil Ordinance (Cap. 86).
Brief description: Enabling legislation for the designation of protected forests.
Administrative authority: Department of Agriculture and National Parks Trust.
Protected Forest Provides for protected forestry and water areas. The Trust currently manages Sage Mountain Protected Forest created under this Act. The Act lacks regulations, but contains stronger provisions on offences, enforcement, and legal proceedings than does the National Parks Ordinance.
Title: Wild Birds Protection Ordinance (Cap. 98, 1959)
Date: 1959 amended 1980.
Brief description: Enabling legislation for the designation of protected forests.
Administrative authority: No information.
Bird Sanctuary The Governor is authorised to declare protected areas specifically as bird sanctuaries. The provisions of this ordinance also apply to birds in any marine park or protected area designated under the Marine Parks and Protected Areas Ordinance.
ANNEX II: BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS PROTECTED AREAS
|Name of area||IUCN & National Mgmt. Categories||Presence of Marine or Coastal Zones||Area
|Virgin Gorda Peak||II||FP||107||1974|
|Wreck of the Rhone||III||NM||YES||324||1980|
BS = Bird Sanctuaries
NM = Natural Monument
FP = Forest Park
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