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Situational Analysis of the Critical Aspects of Protected Areas Governance for the British Virgin Islands. Prepared for the Workshop on Managing Protected Areas in Times of Change: Threats, Opportunities, Leadership in the Eastern Caribbean. Anguilla November 14 – 17, 2006.

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Situational Analysis of the Critical Aspects of Protected Areas Governance for the British Virgin Islands

Prepared for the Workshop on Managing Protected Areas in Times of Change: Threats, Opportunities, Leadership in the Eastern Caribbean.

Anguilla

November 14 – 17, 2006

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The existing protected area governance situation (Who is involved?  Who holds the decision-making authority and responsibility?  Who is accountable to whom? What structures, institutions and relationships are concerned?  How do they function?)

  • Designation of Protected Areas can occur under:
    • the Fisheries Act (1997) whereby Fisheries Protected Areas and Marine Reserves can be set aside.
    • the Physical Planning Act (2001) whereby Environmental Protection Areas, which are adjacent to development projects can be set aside.
    • National Parks and other Protected Areas can be established under the National Parks Act, No. 4 of 2006 which repealed Chapter 243 of 1961 and subsequently amended in 1986.
  • Management Authority over these areas is fragmented; however, this presentation will focus on the contribution of the National Parks Trust to the management of Protected areas through the recent passage of comprehensive legislation to do so.
  • The National Parks is governed by a recently updated act – the National Parks Act No. 4 of 2006 which was enacted after broad consultation and review by major sectors of the community.
  • The Act requires participation of civil society in the formulation of policy related to the management of the Trust. In particular, the public is to be engaged and consulted in the formulation of Management Plans prior to their submission to the Board of the National Parks Trust and subsequently, the Ministry of Natural Resources & Labour.
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The existing protected area governance situation (Who is involved?  Who holds the decision-making authority and responsibility?  Who is accountable to whom? What structures, institutions and relationships are concerned?  How do they function?)

  • The Board’s composition, which is determined by the Minister in consultation with Executive Council, is comprised of:
    • One representative each from the major islands within the group (Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke)
    • Three representatives from the business community with interests in recreational or tourism activity (marine, hotel, restaurant, taxi, travel, fishing and dive industries)
    • Three persons with knowledge or experience in the fields of biodiversity conservation, ecology, cultural heritage, marine archaeology, architecture or historic preservation
    • The Director
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The existing protected area governance situation (Who is involved?  Who holds the decision-making authority and responsibility?  Who is accountable to whom? What structures, institutions and relationships are concerned?  How do they function?)

  • The Board holds decision-making authority and responsibility and is accountable to the Minister of Natural Resources and Labour.
  • Institutional arrangements for the co-management of marine resources exist with members and institutions within the marine industry through the Marine Conservation Programme.
  • The Act (section 18) requires the formation of a Scientific Committee which will be responsible for advising the Trust on matters pertaining to the formulation of Management plans, status of endangered species, monitoring plans for various aspect of park management, the creation of new protected areas and threatened and vulnerable species.
  • The Act empowers the Trust to create International Protected Areas as Trans-boundary Protected Areas, Biosphere Reserves or World Heritage Sites
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The protected area governance goals (What are the values, principles, approaches and goals underlying the system?  Can those be better served by an improved governance system? )

  • The values and overarching principles underlying the system are principally articulated in Section 13: Establishment of Protected Areas:
    • “The parks and other protected areas established under this Act are hereby dedicated to the people of the Virgin Islands for their benefit, education, and use, subject to this Act, and they shall be maintained, conserved, restored, and used so as to leave them unimpaired for the benefit of future generations.”
  • The approaches to governance and management are based on IUCN principles of classification which enshrine the determination of the overall goals to be met by individual parks and protected areas upon declaration. Each park is classified using the existing classification scheme which is articulated in the Act under Section 15.
  • The Act under Section 16 grants the right to enter into Conservation Agreements which may include public or private lands, so long as the management objectives and terms are compatible with biodiversity or cultural conservation principles. Section 32(1) specifically outlines the following:
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The protected area governance goals (What are the values, principles, approaches and goals underlying the system?  Can those be better served by an improved governance system? )

  • The Trust with the approval of the Minister may make a cooperative agreement with other public authorities, non-governmental organisations, or other persons, whether local, regional, or international, for the purposes of management or co-management of specific tasks under this Act, including development or implementation of all or portions of a management plan.
  • The management of Conservation Agreements is detailed in Part VI (Section 41-49).
  • Section 25 of the Act requires the Trust to consult and take into account feedback received through the process in the formulation of Management Plans for all Protected Areas. Consultation is to include public authorities, especially those with conservation and planning responsibilities and the general public. The Director shall:
    • give notice of the preparation of the draft management plan to any public authority that the Director knows is likely to be affected by the plan; and
    • give public notice of the preparation of the draft management plan by publishing a notice in the Gazette and in a newspaper published and circulated in the Territory; and
    • submit it to the Scientific Committee for its advice.
  • Moreover, public meetings must be held to receive comments and forward such as part of the plan. Plans are eventually vetted and approved by the Board and by Executive Council.
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The desirable changes in protected area governance (What needs to be modified for the PA governance system to function more effectively and efficiently?  Who can take action? How?  With whose help?  With what resources?)

  • In light of the recent passage of the Act, the governance system will not be modified in the near future.
  • Implementation of the principles and structures related to governance must be worked out in system-wide, strategic and management plans. Identification of the human, technical and financial resources required to effectively manage the processes previously outlined must be undertaken.
  • Management plans are required for a number of Protected Areas in the British Virgin Islands which will engage the public sector and civil society.
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The strengths and weaknesses of existing protected areas management arrangements, and the opportunities and threats to these protected areas, especially from climate change.

  • Marine elements of the existing Protected Area system have not been formally declared; however, active management of coastal and marine areas is currently taking place. The System Plan for Protected Areas in the British Virgin Islands awaits approval and adoption.
  • Management plans for areas under current jurisdiction are lacking. Management plans must be drafted within three years.
  • It is too early in the process, subsequent to passage of the Act, to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the existing protected areas management arrangements emerging from the Act.
  • Former methods of governance were informal and not always adhered to (consultation) with varying degrees of awareness and acceptance of management approaches by stakeholders.
information resources and tools to empower stakeholders in effective decision making
Information resources and tools to empower stakeholders in effective decision-making
  • The Act prescribes the manner in which stakeholders are to be included in the process of decision-making through the formulation of management plans, amongst other tools.
  • As a statutory body, the Trust does not have an Annual General Meeting requirement, as other NGOs may have as part of their constitution. However, an annual Protected Area forum is proposed as a mechanism to discuss emergent issues.
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The possibilities of other governance types (private/public partnerships, private protected areas, and community conserved areas, etc), have any lessons been learnt or documented?

  • Private/public partnerships and private conservation areas are possible within the context of the new Act.
  • Awareness building activities are required to sensitise landowners with critical natural and cultural assets of the new opportunities and benefits to be afforded by the aforementioned management approaches related to conservation agreements.
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