The Government of the Virgin Islands is about to commence work on Phase 1 of the Long Bay, Beef Island Beach Management Plan.
Phase one (1) of the plan will include construction of public and taxi parking lots and a barrier with revegetation of native species to protect the eastern sand dune from vehicular traffic and to allow its restoration.
Public parking lots will be at the central entrance to the beach and the eastern end. There will also be a dedicated taxi parking lot.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Mr. Joseph Smith-Abbott said the sand dune serves as an important sand reservoir and is critical to the long-term health and stability of the beach.
“Some species of endangered sea turtles also nest in the sand dune and their nesting habitat is compromised by compaction of the sand by vehicles,” Mr. Smith-Abbott said. He added, “Until recent years, the sand dune was fully covered with virgin vegetation, which created a healthy sand dune. At present, over 75% of the native vegetation has been destroyed and the dune covered with invasive species and is heavily trafficked by vehicles.”
The Permanent Secretary stated that in addition to impacting the environment, vehicles within the sand dune contribute to the major concerns of noise pollution and excess littering expressed by the public.
On completion of the first phase, persons will be required to park in the public parking lots that will be established. Persons can continue to access the sand dune by foot where a public picnic area will be created.
Mr. Smith-Abbott said, “The parking lots will be unpaved and screened with hedges of plants native to the beach environment to maintain the natural aesthetic of the beach. Drop-off points will be maintained at the central and eastern access to the beach to allow persons with mobility challenges to easily access the seashore and to facilitate off-loading of vehicles.”
The Permanent Secretary added that work on the parking lots and sand dune protection barrier will commence this month. He said the Ministry is soliciting the public’s cooperation in implementation of the plan to safeguard this important natural and social asset.
The public is also reminded that permission must be sought from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour for commercial uses of beaches and non-commercial activities in cases where there would be groups larger than 50 persons, loudspeakers or open fires.
The Long Bay Beach Management Plan was finalised in December of 2022 following interagency planning efforts and public consultations. The full ‘Long Bay Beach Management Plan’ can be accessed at https://bvi.gov.vg/environment.
The Ministry of Natural Resources continues to manage the natural resources of the Territory in a manner that ensures long-term sustainability.