Local landowners were yesterday assured that their legal rights would be protected, as the Barbados System of Parks and Open Spaces was officially launched at the Natural Heritage Department in Sturges, St Thomas.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart also told residents living within the newly designed National Park area that they need not fear any negative change or disadvantage to their lives.
He said the National Park, which stretches from St Lucy to St Philip and includes the Scotland District, would be a special space and place where landowners and residents could continue their livelihoods.
“Residents can [also] seek to create or continue to create wealth through activities like bed and breakfast accommodation, interpretive tours of the attractions, hiking, farming, livestock rearing, cottage industries and general enjoyment, in other wholesome ways, of the recreation spaces found in abundance in the National Park,” he added.
The Prime Minister further assured that the National Park designation would not alter the legal rights of landowners and occupiers of land in the area, nor would it confer new rights on the visiting public.
“It will however cause all users to concentrate on the need to conserve the landscape and other qualities of the area, in recognition of their value to Barbados in social and economic terms,” he said.
Before a gathering that including several Members of Parliament (MP), including Opposition MP for St Thomas Cynthia Forde, he said Government had undertaken a number of initiatives to preserve the island’s natural beauty and to promote enjoyment of the natural heritage as part of its sustainable development and green economy agenda.
With the Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados Richard Hanley in the audience, the Prime Minister said Canada continues to provide assistance for technical studies, project development and technology transfer.
“That relationship will continue as we review, retool and revise our approaches to ensure the effective management and preservation of our system of parks and open spaces,” he said.
The Prime Minister however contended that if the true potential of the green economy was to be realized, more human and financial resources would have to be invested to allow for the National Park to be fully developed.
“And for this we will need partnerships with other stakeholders in the private sector and civil society and indeed those in the Social Partnership,” he said, while encouraging other members of corporate Barbados to emulate the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P), which has sponsored the first three gateway signs for the National Park.
This morning, the Prime Minister joined with the Managing Director of BL&P Roger Blackman in unveiling two of the gateway signs.