Eight parcels of crown land and one privately-held parcel in the Barkers area have been nominated for protection under the National Conservation Law. In the early 2000’s government began acquiring land in Barkers to create a national park, but it was never officially designated.
Now, under the NCL, the National Conservation Council said the legal framework is now in place, and the national park concept can finally move forward.
“I think it’s important to keep certain things special and protected and a sanctuary,” said Marida Montgomery, who acknowledged the delicate balance between the need for both conservation and development.
“It’s obviously a very big recreational activity area in terms of sport, and stuff, so if there were lots of hotels and things here it obviously wouldn’t still be used for that, it would be difficult to do all the beach activities that people are doing here,” said Ms. Montgomery.
More than just a kitesurfer’s paradise, the council’s report on Barkers said the land is comprised primarily of mangrove wetlands and home to six species of concern, including the pygmy blue butterfly.
In the early 2000’s, then-leader of government business McKeeva Bush began acquiring land in Barkers peninsula for the creation of a national park, but that concept died on the vine in 2013. Mr. Bush said the area has deteriorated into a haven for illegal dumping.
Ms. Montgomery hopes protecting the land today will preserve it for tomorrow.
“It’s really important to think about the island and protecting what’s cultural and what’s important,” she said. “And considering what are the things they want for future generations to not disappear.”
The council’s report said the extent to which the DOE’s original vision for the establishment and management of such a park can be realised hinges on working out cooperative agreements with the private company that owns almost all of the proposed park lands not already owned by the crown.