Chief Town Planner, Mark Cummins, is encouraging Barbadians to respect and utilise the National Park.

He made the comments yesterday at the launch of the Barbados System of Parks and Open Spaces at the Natural Heritage Department, Sturges, St. Thomas.

Mr. Cummins explained that the System had as its major goal to establish a nationwide system of parks and open spaces, which would promote landscape preservation; ensure the conservation of natural areas; meet the active and passive recreational needs of residents of Barbados; and enhance amenities for residents and tourists alike.

He continued: ???The second goal is to establish a National Park which will protect and conserve the natural and cultural assets of the area, while supporting the social and economic development of the existing communities within the Park boundaries. This National Park is an important cog in our sustainable development wheel as it provides a significant space for each of us to relax and engage in different forms of recreation.???

Mr. Cummins added that from an economic perspective, it would provide excellent untapped opportunities for rural economic development and nature-based or eco-tourism.

???For example, The National Park Villages of Belleplaine, Boscobelle and Bathsheba have the potential to support local economic development initiatives and strengthen the tourism economy within the Scotland District.

The village of Belleplaine is the largest of the three and is expected to serve as the National Park hub. Economic activity is related to employment generated by governmental services and agencies, as well as private commercial enterprises,??? he pointed out.

He disclosed that the National Park was a Category Five protected landscape and seascape as set out by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. According to him, this designation had been brought about through the continuous interaction of people within the space over time.

The National Park stretches from Consett Bay in the east to Archers Bay in the north, and comprises both terrestrial and marine components. It encompasses a wide range of land use activities, from forestry and conservation, to tourism and resource extraction.

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