On an island of only 13 square kilometers, the range of hiking opportunities is exceptional. In a single day you can hike from a near-desert ecosystem to a tropical rain forest; from an ocean beach to the top of a volcanic peak; from a beautiful village to the remote backcountry.
A draft nature policy plan was prepared with the assistance of LNV (Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Nature Conservation) during the period June, 1997 to March, 1998. The draft plan was circulated for review among the sectors within Government and the community which provided input into the plan, and presented to the Executive Council in May, 1998. Once approved by the Executive Council, the plan will be presented to the public in one or more public hearings prior to being sent to the Island Council.
The Saba National Land Park
As indicated, no legally protected terrestrial areas exist on Saba at present. However, work is progressing well in designating two areas as protected areas in the near future. These are:
The "Saba National Land Park". This is a 43 ha pie-shaped tract of land on the north coast of Saba, formerly owned by the Sulphur Mining Company. The area has important biological, geological and historical values. It encompasses all vegetation zones present on Saba, an abandoned sulfur mine, hot springs, and it is an important nesting area for Red-billed tropicbirds and several other species of seabirds. The heir to the Sulphur Mining Company property, Mrs. Muriel Thissel Murphy, has donated the property to "Friends of Saba Conservation Foundation, Inc.", a US-based non profit corporation that supports conservation projects on Saba.
In 1999, the property was officially turned over to the Saba Conservation Foundation. The establishment of the Land Park began in January 1998 with grants from the Foundation DOEN and WWF-Netherlands. A management plan was prepared with support from the Dutch Government. Legislation to formally designate the area as a national Land Park will be submitted to the Island Government as soon as the Island Ordinance Nature Conservation has been prepared.
The "Elfin Forest Reserve". This an 8.6 ha plot of montane cloud forest, also known as elfin forest, on the top of Mt. Scenery. It consists of two areas of primary forest and represents climax vegetation. The area is supposed to be public land and the Island Government intends to claim title to the land by prescriptive rights.
However, this procedure has been delayed because of protest by certain private landowners. As soon as these problems have been resolved the prescriptive rights procedure can take place and the Island Government can obtain official title to the land. Legislation to formally designate the area as a strict nature reserve can then be submitted to the Island Government as soon as the Island Ordinance Nature Conservation has been prepared. The Island Government has agreed to delegate management of the reserve to the Saba Conservation Foundation.