Drooling over millionaire mansions on Jersey could almost be considered part of the tourist trail. Big houses really took off during the sixties when the financial sector started to bring in riches. It was an era of cash over conservation really. But Jersey started to wake up to the dangers of overdevelopment just in time, some might even say a little late for some areas –
especially those who fought unsuccessfully to stop an eyesore apartment development overlooking the beautiful Portelet Bay on the south coast. Which, from the ferry approach into St Helier, looks slightly more like pillage than planning.
But there is generally a strong sense of protecting land here, perhaps due to its history of occupation, which goes back way beyond the most recent one of World War II. Much was lost over the years due to such occupations and invasions, yet this small island is still home to natural riches – riches which also need investment, shareholders and marketing to survive.
What you can do:
Check out the 15 Sites of Special Interest,
which range from the ancient St Catherine’s Woods on the northeast coast, to Les Landes, the maritime heathland on the northwest coast. Visit them and spread the conservation word. Because even in rich countries, conservationists have to battle with the powers that be to protect land, and when tourists give it the seal of approval, so does the state.
A good example of this is at St Ouen’s Pond
, a wetland on the west coast which you could easily fly past on your bike, distracted by the white sands of St Ouen’s Bay beside it. But this peaceful place is home to everything from orchids to owls, kestrels to cuckoo flowers. It will also be home to a new, eco, state of the art, underground wetland centre opening in February 2014.
St Ouen’s Pond is also part of the island’s first Coastal National Park, which was designated in July 2011, but somewhat bizarrely is not being shouted about in tourist circles. But it does exist, and along with it comes much tighter planning restrictions. One organisation that does promote the park is The National Trust for Jersey
, so keep an eye on their site for more details. You can see a map of it here
. It’s a Channel Island catwalk of biodiverse beauties, but unless they tell people about it, it’s like this bevvy is all dressed up with nowhere to go.