Buy Back Bermuda is a partnership between two like-minded, registered charities, the Bermuda Audubon Society and the Bermuda National Trust who together set a mission to save our precious remaining land from development.
Who is Part of Buy Back Bermuda’s Committee?
The Committee of Management is made up of seven dedicated volunteers. Three representing the Bermuda Audubon Society, three representing the Bermuda National Trust and a Chair. Conservation management committees and campaign committees are set up as needed and hundreds of volunteers have worked for our cause or in our reserves.
How Does Buy Back Bermuda Select Sites to Preserve?
Buy Back Bermuda has very specific criteria that a site must meet in order to warrant protection. That criteria dictates that:
- Property must be worthy of protection and conservation as a nature reserve
- Be at risk to development or loss of habitat or public amenity
- Be capable of public access
- Have educational value to the public at large
- Be contiguous with an existing protected site
- Be bordering a natural shoreline on at least one of its boundaries
- Have a connection to a historic structure or use
Are There Nature Reserves One Can Visit That Were Saved by Buy Back?
Yes! Somerset Long Bay East Nature reserve was saved in 2004, Eve’s Pond was saved in 2012 and Vesey Nature Reserve was gifted to the organisation in 2007.
Vesey Nature Reserve
Tucked between Rockaway and Evans Bay in Southampton Parish, this eight-acre park certainly has perspective, with lots of up and down, looking across, looking through and quite a bit hidden away. The access road slopes down through a leafy tunnel, taking you to farmland on either side. The land was donated to Buy Back Bermuda in 2009 by Sharon Vesey who wished to prevent more of Bermuda’s precious natural habitats from being developed. It was opened to the public as a nature reserve on Earth Day, 22nd April 2013.
Along the winding trails, through swathes of native and endemic flora and fauna, you’ll find secluded benches where you can pause and have a moment of reflection. A wide variety of ecosystems are there to discover, including a rocky shoreline, coastal scrubland, and forests. The reserve stretches all the way from Middle Road to the Little Sound.
At the heart of the reserve is an important tidal pond fringed by lush dense mangroves and populated by herons dubbed ‘Evan’s Pond’. It is home to the native Mullet, a fish which attracts stunning predatory birds such as osprey. It also supports populations of toads and killifish, which are integral to the biodiversity of our ecosystems. The saltwater that makes this pond so unique is fed in from the Little Sound connected by a dramatic drowned cave system.
By removing introduced spice trees from this woodland valley and planting native alternatives, the park’s flora is slowly being restored to reflect what Bermuda’s long-forgotten forests and valleys would once have looked like.
Towards the south is a stunning abandoned quarry on Skroggins Hill. The vertical rock faces rise some 30 feet above the existing ground level. The chisel and saw marks made by stone cutters decades ago are still visible and transport one back to simpler times. There is also evidence of coastal quarries from which ‘wharf block’ would have been acquired.
You can find the Vesey Nature Reserve on Middle Road, Southampton between Evans Bay Road and Rockaway.
Somerset Long Bay East Nature Reserve
The nature reserve at Somerset Long Bay East is an extremely valuable part of Bermuda’s natural heritage and biodiversity. A unique feature of the pond in the reserve is that it lies within the Somerset freshwater lens, and so, despite proximity to the sea, it supports an essentially freshwater marsh community, including resident and migratory water birds. There are small nesting islands in the pond which have been colonised by several species of breeding waterfowl. As the pond is near the extreme northwestern tip of Bermuda it is an important first landing site for migratory birds searching for fresh water.
There is a small dock from which to view pond life. Invasive flora has been largely removed from the reserve and native and endemic trees planted.
Somerset Long Bay East was purchased by Buy Back Bermuda in 2005. Extensive work was undertaken expanding and dredging the pond – partially filled with trash in the early 20th century – to create a healthier environment for biodiversity. The reserve was opened to the public on Earth Day in 2007.
The addition of this reserve to Somerset Long Bay National Park and the Audubon Society’s Somerset Long Bay West Nature Reserve has created a protected area of ten acres.
You can find the Somerset Long Bay Nature Reserves on Daniel’s Head Road between Daniel’s Head and Cambridge Beaches.
Until recently the land at Eve’s Pond was not particularly distinctive or beautiful, being overgrown with casuarinas and other invasive species. The “pond” part of the name appeared to be misleading as no expanse of water, salt or otherwise, could be seen. But originally there most certainly was a visible inland saltwater pond: it used to rise and fall with the tide through Green Cave and connected caves under Harrington Sound. A.J. Savage clearly marked the body of water as Eve’s Pond on his map of 1898–1899. And according to Daniel Blagg’s Bermuda Gazetteer, in 1893 so many yellowtails swam through the underground passages into the pond that many suffocated. Jennifer Gray, chair of Buy Back Bermuda, former executive director of the Bermuda National Trust and president of the Bermuda Audubon Society, thinks this was entirely likely. When she was growing up, she saw yellowtails swarm in Harrington Sound for about three weeks, even though the Sound was not their usual habitat. Other fish would arrive in the pond as well. Eugene Outerbridge, former head of paediatrics, remembered young, small groupers arriving in the pond through the caves and staying there to become much larger. John Elliott Cooper, better known as “Shot” and the grandfather of The Bermudian’s managing editor, Gabrielle Boyer, also remembered groupers making their way into the pond at high tide. They would get stuck when the water receded and subsequently die. The family dog, Mickey, would then roll around on the dead groupers and, she says, “stink to high heaven for days.”
So why did the pond disappear? It was completely filled in with sand dredged from Flatts Inlet. Back then filled-in land was seen as a means for dealing with trash and ponds were seen by some to be unsightly, in part because they attracted mosquitoes.
when Buy Back Bermuda bought the land some eighty years later, they knew from the start they wanted to reinstate the pond. A greater understanding of the natural world shows us water is essential for all living things. And, as Gray points out, it’s a huge attraction for immigrant birds as well as local ones. Today the pond is home to the endemic killifish and non-native guppies which were more than likely introduced by visiting waterfowl. Visitors to Eve’s Pond can also spot aquatic insects and dragonflies.
You can find Eve’s Pond on North Shore Road in Hamilton Parish between Flatts and Shelly Bay.
What is Buy Back Bermuda’s Latest Project?
Buy Back Bermuda recently purchased a property called High Point Nature Reserve, which is 10 acres of land along South Shore in Southampton.
The brand-new nature reserve includes:
- Rare and incredible panoramic views of the South Shore, the Great Sound and North Shore beyond
- Large and varied habitats providing great potential to sustain and protect native and endemic flora and fauna
- A coastal reserve comprising 28% of the land with the largest aggregation of longtail nests on mainland Bermuda
- Tidal caves along the coastal reserve that are geologically unique and provide critical nesting habitat for barn owls
- Mixed woodland offering habitat for local and migratory bird species
- Precious arable land of good quality which is a declining resource in Bermuda
- Potential for trail and hiking paths that provide a diverse and noteworthy nature walk
- Potential for educating the public on Bermuda’s natural history
- Serene beauty and tranquillity offering restoration for the unwell and inspiration for creative thinking and the arts.
Buy Back Bermuda is actively campaigning for $1.5 million to prepare the nature reserve to open to the public and to complete and implement conservation management plans for all four nature reserves.
How Can You Support Buy Back Bermuda?
Buy Back Bermuda needs your help for restoration High Point Nature Reserve to make it accessible and enjoyable for all. You can donate online at www.buybackbermuda.bm or by calling 236-6483. You can make a direct transfer to Butterfield account number 20 006 060 842793 100 with your name in memo field. You can also send cheques payable to Buy Back Bermuda to PO Box 61, Hamilton HM AX.