The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce
Please also visit Greenrock, another Bermuda organisation dedicated to the preservation of the environment.
2015 Issue 12
BEST (Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce)
Registered Charity # 858
BULLETIN – Issue 12 (February 2015)
America’s Cup 35:A Steering Committee including representatives from many local environmental groups has met and begun formulating plans and actions. It is encouraging to note that Mike Winfield, Chief Executive, America’s Cup, Bermuda, has expressed interest and concern regarding environmental matters and has agreed to meet with the steering committee.
Pink Beach: the Development Applications Board rejected their development plan for the part of the land zoned Agricultural Reserve. Bermuda’s acreage of agricultural land has declined considerably from 1540 acres in 1959 to less than 400. It is vitally important to preserve, and use effectively these remaining acres. It was noted by Conservation Services that “much of the Island’s agriculture reserves are not used for cultivation due to land owners passively or actively discouraging farmers from using the plots.” http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20150212/NEWS/150219893
Perhaps it is time for a Government incentive scheme for landowners who allow farmers to make use of their land for growing food?
2015 Year of Soils:
Tying in with preserving our agricultural land a quote from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO): “Our soils are in danger because of expanding cities, deforestation, unsustainable land use and management practices, pollution, overgrazing and climate change. The current rate of soil degradation threatens the capacity to meet the needs of future generations. The promotion of sustainable soil and land management is central to ensuring a productive food system, improved rural livelihoods and a healthy environment.” Find more on the vital role of soils at http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/soil-facts/en/#c32016 and be sure to add to the health of your garden through composting
Bermuda Botanical Gardens:
BEST was born out of the actions taken to ‘Save the Gardens’ when it was proposed to build a hospital in the grounds. A petition is circulating at the moment regarding the rebuilding of the Maintenance Yard in the centre of the gardens. For more information see https://www.facebook.com/takebackourpark
The Green Cooperative:
No, not a shop but the name for a number of environmental groups who came together thanks to Chewstick’s 2014 Beachfest to deal with waste management issues arising out of large public events. The first collaborative event will be the Catlin End to End Walk in May 2015.
The members of The Green Cooperative are (in alpha order):
Government's Waste Management
Government's Parks Department
The above is a small sampling of the work BEST is engaged in. Your support, financially and/or through volunteering, allows us to continue to work and is very much welcomed and appreciated. We wish you a happy Valentine’s Day and urge you to “share your love” with our Island home.
Members of The BUZZ Committee were delighted to be presented with one of photographer Othneal Haynes’ amazing bee photographs by Stuart Hayward, BEST President & Chief Advocacy Officer in recognition of the work they have been doing on behalf of bees in Bermuda.
Close up - you can even see the pollen sacs!
Year of Soils 2015
The attractive, well tended and inspiring vegetable plots at the Botanical Gardens. Notice the rich, red soil. Take a visit and chat with the gardeners who care for and maintain these beautiful areas.
2014 Throne Speech
BEST’s Wish List
BEST response to Throne Speech
BEST comments on the Protected Species Bill 2014
13 June 2014
Of course we here at BEST were concerned about proposed amendments to the Protected Species Act, especially as the Explanatory Memorandum highlighted the expansion of the Minister's discretion to permit “destruction of protected species” and “destruction of critical habitats”. At our request, BEST along with other members of the environmental community were given a presentation from a senior Civil Servant who answered most of our questions satisfactorily.
The core issue goes beyond this legislation. Bermuda is an almost totally urbanized island and, as a result, just about every endemic or native species is endangered or threatened with extinction. While Bermuda is often given credit for having the foresight to enact laws protecting endangered species, such laws are seldom passed before the resources they were designed to protect were already seriously depleted. As an example, in 1616 — a mere seven years after the first human settlement on the Island — Governor Daniel Tucker issued a proclamation “against the spoyle and havocke of the cahow and other birds.” But, as subsequent historians have commented, “it came too late for they were mostly destroyed before.”
Despite the various legislative attempts in the last century, it still became necessary in 2003 to pass a local Protected Species Act, in which all the most threatened species and their habitats were given total protection with provision for maximum fines of $10,000 for anyone deliberately causing their destruction. Instead of having the desired effect, aspects of the Act raised fears it would be invoked to prevent any development. If, for instance, a stand of cedars and palmettos was growing on a development lot, or if a cedar had self-seeded adjacent to a house and was causing cracks in the foundation or growing roots into a tank, it was feared any further development on that site would be blocked.
As a result, people were actually declining to plant any endangered species on their property to avoid such restrictions in the future. Some actually cut trees down in secret.
This is a prime example of where the letter of the law comes into conflict with the spirit of the law. It points out why laws can never replace values or the exercise of common sense. There will always be exceptions where the sacrifice of an individual or habitat of an endangered species can be justified, and we are persuaded now that the amendment to the Act is intended to allow for those exceptions, provided that the overriding purpose of the act is not violated.
However, we remain concerned that the amendments that make provision for exceptions put the onus of decision-making in these cases exclusively with the Minister. Past experience has taught us that discretionary powers can be abused. We will need to be vigilant to keep the spirit of the law uppermost. We will also need to place more emphasis on values and education alongside enforcement. We have to accept that laws cannot by themselves replace values, and use to our advantage the principle that values can be instilled through education.
Ultimately, common sense dictates that we should make every effort to preserve and protect species such as our cedar trees, but this should not prevent us from removing occasional individual trees that threaten a house foundation or water tank. It should not even prevent us from harvesting them for their valuable timber, provided we plant replacements to make such harvesting sustainable. That would be common sense.
Meanwhile, we are reasonably confident that the amendments made today to the Protected Species Act are a step in the right direction.
BEST comments on Pink Beach Club proposed development
Royal Gazette Friday, December 12, 2014
BEST comments on America’s Cup 35
Royal Gazette, Monday, December 8, 2014
BERMUDA BOTANICAL GARDENSJanuary 19 2015 BEST grew out of the Save Our Gardens campaign several years ago. See our comments on the latest developments at the Gardens at http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20150119/NEWS/150119706
BERMUDA’S ECO SCHOOL PROGRAMMEJanuary 19 2015 BEST has recently become affiliated with Greenrock’s very successful Bermuda Eco School Programme. http://www.royalgazette.com/article/20150119/NEWS05/150119716
2014 Issue 10
All Hail the 35th America’s Cup opportunity:
The following is part of the text in BEST’s recent press release
“The Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) applauds Bermuda on becoming home to the 2017 America’s Cup (AC) and looks forward to all of the exciting opportunities that this presents our Island home. As examples, the AC will bring in foreign capital, and that will bring much-needed economic stimulus to the Island.
“Before we plough ahead with our preparations, we would just like to highlight that it is important to be mindful of the longer-term economic, environmental and social implications of each and every development.
“BEST encourages the Bermuda Government, the West End Development Corporation (WEDCO), developers and all Bermudians to take a longer-term view as we begin preparing for the America’s Cup. Let us “begin with the end in mind”, and ask ourselves how each development fits into our longer-term plans, be it for marinas, hotels, transport or cultural developments. Let us strive to achieve facilities of which everyone in Bermuda can be proud. It is only by being mindful of the longer-term implications from the outset that Bermuda can be left with sustainable solutions that achieve environmental, economic and social prosperity for the broadest segment of our community right through 2017 and far beyond.”
Response and Offer of Assistance:
BEST was very pleased to receive an email from Mr. Tyson Bottenus who is the Sustainability Director of Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization who were involved in the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco as the Official Clean Regattas Partner to help coordinate the sustainability impact of the event. His offer to provide us some guidance will be invaluable to the local environmental groups who want to imprint sustainability on this event.
The Management Plan has been completed. Hopefully the area will be declared a National Park soon. The cottage at Southlands is in the process of being designated a Grade 2 Listed Bldg and comments from the public are invited. Deadline Dec 31st. see more at
I was at Southlands recently and the house is looking rather sorry for itself. Lots of tlc needed - and soon
A small group will be meeting in the New Year to examine the use of products containing microbeads, some of which are available in Bermuda. Do check labels of your shower and bath products, face & body scrubs, and toothpaste (to name a few). Look to avoid products that contain polyethylene and polypropylene. More information available at http://5gyres.org/how_to_get_involved/campaigns-microbead/
BEST continues to monitor planning applications, and is hoping that we won’t be seeing another increase in the number of retroactive applications given the fee has been reduced. Whilst there is provision in the law for this, it is far than ideal to have work completed without the proposed work having been assessed and sanctioned first.
Congratulations to hard-working BEST volunteers Judy Motyer and Jessica Tannock, who were nominated as Volunteers of the Year for BEST in recognition of their work to protect and sustain Bermuda’s Bees and in reviewing development applications. They will receive their certificates at a reception hosted by the Centre on Philanthropy. Congratulations too to BEST’s Junior Management Member (Megan Sutcliffe) who not only dedicates a considerable amount of time to BEST but is also an international and local, team and individual award-winning member of debate teams. These skills will be an invaluable asset in the continued advocacy for the environment.
I was thrilled to be on the Aquarium boat a couple of weekends ago, looking for - and finding - cahows gathering off Bermuda prior to heading inland to nesting burrows. A pair of cahows gave a wonderful aerial display as they chased one another, skimming across the wave tops, twisting and turning with barely a beat of a wing. Magnificent! Many thanks to the Audubon Society and BAMZ for organizing these trips. Particular thanks to Dr David Wingate, whose lifetime of work, sustaining and growing the tiny group of cahows found in the 1950’s ensured their survival.
BEST’s Christmas Cheer Celebration:
We recently enjoyed the company of some of our most dedicated volunteers and BEST Friends at an evening gathering at the BEST office. It was a way to warm our (fairly) new office space and to say thank you to those who lend us their support. Hand-made decorations from students of BHS graced the walls and ceilings as well as the branches of our Christmas cedar trees, donated by Save Open Spaces (SOS). Our guests tasted delicious canapés by Sam Crew’s catering firm “Arugula” and Stuart’s famous hot apple cider while enjoying seasonal sounds from DJ Najib Chentouf, a comedy routine by his son Yassine and unique ukelele music and songs by Mike Hind. We are immensely grateful to them all.
With Christmas approaching, please include your Bermuda Island home on your gift list either through a donation or through an earth friendly action. Donations to BEST can be made online through the BEST website www.best.org.bm or by direct deposit to our Bank of Butterfield account, number 20-006-060-625713-100.
Wishing you all the very BEST for the Season.
2015 Issue 11
America’s Cup 35:
As you will have seen in the media, BEST welcomes the opportunities that the AC35 will bring to Bermuda. With thoughtful, sensitive and thorough planning and preparation Bermuda stands to benefit in many areas. It is important for Bermuda to ensure that due process is followed in all Planning Applications and that Environmental Impact Assessments and Statements (EIA/EIS) are conducted. Well-researched and structured EIAs and EISs have been shown to save money by avoiding costly mistakes and/or unnecessary work. BEST is working to pull together a Steering Committee, comprised of members from a wide range of environmental organizations, to examine environmental issues. BEST has also been in touch with organizers of AC34 who had worked to make that event carbon neutral.
BEST continues to monitor activities at Tucker’s Point.
We are delighted that the cottage at Southlands has in fact been designated a Grade 2 Listed Building. It is hoped that the building will be secured, and urgent repairs made. It is long past time for Southlands to be integrated into our National Parks system.
2015 - International Year of Soils:
Over the past few months several issues have been raised with regards to Bermuda’s agricultural lands. BEST’s work to preserve and improve these areas in Bermuda dovetails nicely with this year’s United Nations theme: 2015 International Year of Soils.
Soil is a precious resource - the value of which is frequently overlooked in the drive to “develop”. Did you know that a single teaspoon (1 gram) of rich garden soil can hold up to one billion bacteria, several yards of fungal filaments, several thousand protozoa, and scores of nematodes, according to Kathy Merrifield, Nematologist at Oregon State University. Most of these creatures are exceedingly small; earthworms and millipedes are giants, in comparison, but each has a role in the secret life of soil. Soil also contains the building blocks for many antibiotics
Read more at:
Marine Development Plan:
There have been many discussions locally about the Sargasso Sea Alliance, Marine Protected Areas, Blue Halo, the Exclusive Economic Zone and now America’s Cup 35, but more action is required. A first step would be the establishment of a Marine Development Plan; coherent zoning policies for the whole platform would be beneficial, given the fact that a healthy ocean is also vital to our well-being.
Thanks to YOU… our BEST Friend:
The help and support of our BEST friends encourages and sustains us. We look forward to hearing from you during 2015.