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Observing World Wetlands Day

The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) is showcasing selected national parks in observance of World Wetlands Day on February 2.

“The date marks the 1971 adoption of the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty that helps protect wetlands,” said Eric Carey , BNT Executive Director. “The Bahamas signed on to the treaty in 1997, with the BEST Commission and the BNT as administrative agencies.”

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Once considered wastelands, wetlands are now recognised as key conservation assets. “Most fish depend on coastal mangroves for part of their life cycle,” Lynn Gape, BNT Deputy Executive Director said, “but wetlands are also essential for many amphibians and reptiles, as well as for bird breeding and migration.”

In the Bahamas, Lake Rosa in the Inagua National Park is recognised as a site of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. Lake Rosa is home to the largest remaining breeding colony of endangered West Indian flamingos.

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More than half of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900, but scientists say they are critical for the Earth’s biodiversity. Every year, the Ramsar Secretariat observes World Wetlands Day to drive home this fact through public education.

More than 1400 wetlands around the world have been recognised as Ramsar sites of international importance. In addition to Lake Rosa, the Bahamian national park system includes other important wetlands on Andros, New Providence, Exuma and Grand Bahama.

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– The Andros West Side National Park protects more than a million acres of coastal wetlands that are the most productive marine nurseries in The Bahamas. This park also provides habitat for bonefish and flamingos.

– Bonefish Pond National Park is an important marine nursery on the south central coast of New Providence. The area supports a wide variety of waterfowl and native plants, and protects inland communities from storm surges.

– Moriah Harbour Cay protects a vital part of the ecosystem connecting Great and Little Exuma, and is an outstanding example of a Bahamian coastal zone. It is also a marine nursery and bird nesting area.

– Harrold & Wilson Ponds National Park on south central New Providence protects 250 acres of wetland, including more than 100 bird species.

– The Lucayan National Park on Grand Bahama includes every vegetative zone found in the Bahamas, including mangrove forests.

Government policy views the conservation of wetlands as essential tothe country’s environmental and economic well-being. Environmental impact assessments are required for any activity that might have an adverse impact on wetlands.

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This year’s theme for World Wetlands Day focuses on Sustainable Livelihoods. The aim is to demonstrate the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity, and specifically their relevance towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The Bahamas National Trust was created by an Act of Parliament in 1959 to build and manage our national park system. It is possibly the only non-governmental membership organization in the world with such a responsibility. The BNT works to conserve Bahamian natural resources, through stewardship and education for present and future generations. There are currently 32 national parks throughout the country, encompassing more than 2 million acres of land and sea.

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