In April 2019, the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve became the first institution in The Bahamas to be designated as an accredited Botanic Garden by Botanic Gardens Conservation International. This tier of accreditation recognized institutions for their achievements in plant conservation.To receive this distinguished designation, a botanic garden must have: documented collections, public access, an education program, research capacity, and a long-term strategic plan, among other things
The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve is the fulfillment of the vision of longtime residents Leon Levy and Shelby White, who loved the natural environment and way of life on Eleuthera. After Leon Levy’s passing in 2003, Shelby White wanted to celebrate her husband’s devotion to the island while contributing to a better future for all Eleuthera. Shelby was originally inspired to create the Preserve during a visit to the Retreat Garden in New Providence.
Working with the Bahamas National Trust, she helped establish a native plant preserve that would be for the benefit of the local community as a special place to conserve the natural beauty of Eleuthera and preserve cultural heritage such as the use of native plants in bush medicine.
Shelby White next to Levy Preserve Sign
Today the Levy Preserve plays an important part of The Bahamas national park system. Bahamians and visitors can now walk miles of trails through the native habitat, and view the beautiful orchids, birds, insects, medicinal plants, and the hardwood trees that played an important role in the history of the island.
As an outdoor classroom, students can learn about the native Bahamian terrestrial environment and the creatures that inhabit it.