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Issue 31 - UKOTCF

Issue 31 - UKOTCF

Issue 31 -

UK OVERSEAS TERRITORIES CONSERVATION FORUM F O R U M N E W S 31 OCTOBER 2007 • www.ukotcf.org The Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB) the largest single regional organization devoted to biodiversity conservation, held its 16 th meeting in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico in July 2007. The 5- day conference focused on the impact of global climate change on Caribbean birds and its people, and the increasingly politically charged threat of hotel development to native biodiversity, among other issues. Leading organizations present, including representatives from Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Montserrat, described the state of affairs as a crisis. The meeting was stunned by reports of what appears to be an unprecedented move by some Caribbean governments to change the legal status of previously protected remnant conservation sites in order to facilitate built development. In Bermuda, there is an increasing use of Special Development Orders to approve building projects, by-passing the normal planning requirements, especially the need for environmental impact assessments. An SDO has been granted (August 2007) for a controversial Jumeirah Hotel to be built in Bermuda on a coastal woodland site. The plan includes the removal of the cliffs which First review of progress on the Environment Charters The UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF) has completed the first compilation of information on progress in implementing the Environment Charters (and their equivalents in the Crown Dependencies and those UKOTs without Charters). This is available as a 19-page pdf file on the Forum’s website (www.ukotcf.org) Background Conference identifies tourism development as a major threat to regionally endangered species provide a natural sea defence as well as being the nest site for seabirds. (See also page 18.) Andrew Dobson, President of the SCSCB and past-president of the Bermuda Audubon Society, remarked that the situation is a massive leap backwards at a time when the conservation of both forest and coastal areas, especially mangroves, is critical to mitigate climate change impacts. He noted that the trend would only undermine the Caribbean’s reputation as an environmentally friendly destination, and set the region up for an intensive battle with global conservation advocates. Andrew Dobson also said “Caribbean forests will suffer significantly more from climate change if catalysed by shortsighted development, and the biodiversity they house will be among the greatest casualties because over 85% of Caribbean’s natural forests have already been destroyed by human action.” Southlands Coast, Bermuda, part of the area designated for development For further details contact Andrew Dobson at:adobson@warwickacad.bm The Environment Charters were signed in September 2001 between the UK Government and the Governments of UK Overseas Territories. Most of the global biodiversity for which the UK is responsible is found in the UKOTs rather than in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Under multilateral environment agreements (MEAs), it is the UK government which lodges - and is accountable for - international commitments, but the legislature and executive of each territory which are responsible for local implementing legislation and its enforcement. The Environment Charters are intended to help implement the shared responsibilities and commitments of the UK Government and the Government of each Territory for the conservation of the environment. The Charters include Commitments by both the UK Government and the Government of the UK Overseas Territories concerned. One of UK Government’s Commitments in the Charters concerns providing funding to help benefit the environments of the Territories and thus support the Territories in fulfilling some of their commitments under the Charters. The Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP), and its predecessor the Environment Fund for the Overseas Territories (EFOT), were established to address part of this financial commitment. 1

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