This article was taken from our archives. It first appeared in our Fall 2006 issue. It appears here exactly as it did originally. 

What could be sweeter than giving a present to your country and countrymen by wrapping up a parcel of land? With so little open space left on this tiny island – not even golf courses seem safe from developers’ covetous clutches – The Bermudian celebrates those who recognise the need to leave something, anything, even the smallest green space, for nature and the nurture of future generations. To the six donors we feature in this series, and the numerous others whose foresight and generosity will go on forever, we salute you.

The family of Sir Howard and Lady Trott donated Sears Cave to the Bermuda Audubon Society in their memory in 1990. With an area just over one third of an acre, it is considered most impressive for its environmental features: a large limestone sink, rare Bermuda ferns and endemic native forest.

“It was David Wingate [the government conservation officer at the time] who suggested we donate it to the Audubon Society,” says Reeve Trott, Sir Howard’s grandson. “He thought it important because there were a lot of endemic ferns there that didn’t really grow anywhere else.”

The geological formation is bordered on the south by an arable field and by woodland reserve on other boundaries, contained in a rural environment. According to the Audubon Society, “Sears Cave Nature Reserve is a small but interesting reserve in Smith’s Parish. It forms the remains of a large cave chamber in which the roof has collapsed, exposing it to the elements. The resultant deep, steep-sided depression is an ideal habitat for ferns, being sheltered, shady and humid. It is the location of the largest remaining colony of cave fern Dryopteris speluncae, a species found in only three other tiny locations on Bermuda. The long spleenwort Asplenium heterochroum is also present in small numbers.”

Wingate announced the cave’s official opening as a fern sanctuary 14 years ago, describing it as an important ecological area because of the cave fern found there. He said the plant was established in only three other sites on the island, all in the Walsingham network of caves. According to Wingate, another reason existed for preserving the geological formation. “This is the first nature reserve specifically set up for ferns,” he said. “It is one of very few sinkhole caves exposed in the central parishes.”

The Audubon Society believes future generations will see even further benefits from the cave’s preservation. “The site is an ideal location for establishing a botanical reserve containing many of Bermuda’s upland fern species. Ferns that could be reintroduced into the cave include the endemic Bermuda shield fern Dryopteris bermudiana and Governor Laffan’s fern Diplazium laffanianum, and the native toothed spleenwort Asplenium dentatum and plume polypody Polypodium plumula. Sears Cave is also interesting in that it may have been a roosting or nesting site for Bermuda’s only resident breeding bird of prey, the barn owl Tyto alba. At present, a wild hive of honeybees Apis mellifera make their home in the upper reaches of the cave.”

DONATIONS OF LAND TO THE BERMUDA NATIONAL TRUST

PROPERTY DONOR DATE ACRES
Bee Hive Farm Nature Reserve, St Dav. David L.White 1991 0.06
Butterfield Nature Reserves,

Point Shares, Pem.

Mr and Mrs Dudley Butterfield

(this jointly with Lady Tibbits}

1981, 1984

2000, 2003

2.59
Chaplin O’Neill Nature Reserve,

Harbour Rd, War.

Lady Oona O’Neill Chaplin 1989 0.56
Davenport Cottage, Water St, St Geo. Dr. Raymond Spurling 2000 0.05
Devonshire Marsh Nature Reserves, Dev. Estate of Hereward T. Washington 1984 10.1
Elm Lodge, Harbour Road, War. Donated by David Wingate In transfer 6
Edmund Gibbons Nature Reserve, South Rd, Dev. Sir David and E. Graham Gibbons 1976 3.16
Gladys Morrell Nature Reserve,

East Side Rd, Sandys

Sandy’s Chapter of I.O.D.E 1973 2.1
HT. North Nature Reserves, Judkin Lane, Ham. Parish Partially donated by Jean Outerbridge and Catherine Burnett 1975, 1981 4.52
I.W. Hughes Nature Reserve, Walsingham, Ham. Parish The heirs of Idwal Hughes 1982 1.3
Locust Hall Farm, Middle Road, Dev Mainly donated by the children 1989

of Edmund and Winifred Gibbons – Patsy Phillips, E. Graham Gibbons, and Sir David Gibbons

1989 24
Manrgoville, Arrowroot Lane, Ham. Parish Bequest by the Natalie North Estate 2003 2.75
Marjorie Jackson Nature Reserve, Westside Rd, Sandys Bequest by Marjorie Jackson 2001 0.5
Padella Cottage, Westside Road Sandys Bequest by Marjorie Jackson 2001 0.15
Palm and Morgans Islands,

Elys Harbour, Sandys

Ingersoll Family 1983 4.15
Palmetto House, Devonshire Hereward T. Watlington 1955 2.37
Pembroke Hall, Pem. The daughters of Col. Thomas Dill, Frances Moore, Dianna Darrid and Ruth Crocker 1981 1.35
Rebecca Middleton Nature Reserve, Paget Mr and Mrs Walter Cook 2006 0.4
Rogue Island, St Geo. Sir Richard Gorham, The Grace Brooks Trust, Berry Kitson, Joan Wilkie and Lillis Stockwell 1979 0.2
S-Hill Reserve, Ord Road, War. Adrianna Goodfellow 1992 0.25
Saltus Island, Pem. Richard Aeschliman 1978 3.19
Scaur Lodge, Sandys Charles Stewart Mott Foundation 1976 6.06
Ships Inn, War. Adrianna Goodfellow

and Shirley Mulder

1992 2.23
Land on Smith’s Island Kitson and Spurling Families 1995 28
Spinal Pond, Smith’s Part. donated by Henry Wilkinson 1970 23.54
Stokes’ Point, St Geo Partially donated by bequest from Ms Nea Smith 1989 8.37
Tivoli, War. Bequest from Gloria Higgs 1984 11.26
Warwick Pond, War. Dennis Sherwin/Bda Heritage Trust 1987 9.32
Waterville, Paget Kenneth F. Trimingham 1962 1.2
Wilkinson Nature Reserve, Ham. Parish Mrs Bernard Wilkinson 1982 0.58

Note: The above table excludes land and buildings purchased outright by the Bermuda National Trust and its predecessor, Bermuda Historic Monuments Trust. It also excludes the Trust’s historic military cemeteries and private burial grounds.