December 10th, 2020- Nassau, Bahamas:
The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) is in direct opposition to the proposed South Abaco: Hotel, Marina, and Residences development based on a thorough review of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project. As stated by our allies, Sustainable South Abaco, the proposed development will directly reduce the quality and quantity of habitat available for bonefish, Bahama parrots, and numerous other commercially and culturally important species. This threat is compounded by the proposal’s economic shortcomings which could undermine the project’s success, leaving large areas of pristine terrestrial and marine ecosystems decimated.
While the proposal includes plans to mitigate some environmental damages, these measures are not enough to justify the environmental degradation necessary to complete the resort, marina, golf course, and other structures. One mitigating activity of note is the donation of land and funds to the BNT to support conservation activities. This concession was not the result of any request, solicitation, or suggestion from the BNT and will not influence the organization’s view of the project.
The proposed marina will disrupt the nation’s second-largest freshwater lens – the source of much of the unique biodiversity found in the area and in the Abaco National Park. In addition, construction and dredging will generate turbidity which can disrupt one of the largest bonefish spawning aggregations in the Bahamas, coral reefs, and seagrass beds in the area. Lastly, a significant portion of rare, old growth coppice habitat that supports Bahama Parrots, Bahama Warblers, and other resident and migratory birds will be severely degraded. These are just three examples of the many negative impacts this and other unsustainable developments can have on the environment that supports our way of life. Allowing this development would mean sacrificing the ways of life people have come to rely on for a questionable chance at financial returns.
“A national investment policy should be formulated in coordination with the national development plan to seek developments that are sustainable, environmentally friendly, and that compliment how we would wish development to take place on our chain of islands.” Says BNT Executive Director Mr. Eric Carey. Developments should be expected to do more good than harm to the environment, society, and economy. This involves appropriately scaled construction coupled with efforts to seamlessly integrate the project with the surrounding economy, society, and environment.
To this end, the BNT intends to canvass the owners of properties surrounding national parks and protected areas to gauge and generate interest in sustainable developments that would complement natural areas. Academic groups have also engaged in similar efforts to describe sustainable development alternatives for Abaco, like the “Planning Abaco: A Proposal to Restore a Sustainable Tradition on Great Abaco Island, The Bahamas” study completed by Andrew C. von Maur, and Tony Homenchuk of Andrews University (2008).
The Bahamas and particularly the areas surrounding the Abaco National Park and Cross Harbor protected area can be developed without sacrificing the natural resources in our stewardship. Instead of sacrificing our natural environment for the promise of financial gain, we can capitalize on our natural resources while preserving their integrity.
Planning Abaco: A Proposal to Restore a Sustainable Tradition on Great Abaco Island, The Bahamas” study by Andrew C. von Maur, and Tony Homenchuk of Andrews University (2008)
About the BNT:
The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) was created by an Act of Parliament in 1959 to build and manage the national park system of The Bahamas. Possibly the only non-governmental organization in the world charged with such a responsibility, the BNT works daily to conserve and protect the natural resources of The Bahamas through stewardship and education for present and future generations. There are currently 32 National Parks managed by the BNT with more than 2 million acres of marine and terrestrial areas protected.
Senior Communications Officer, Bahamas National Trust
Cell: (242)431-6797 / Tel: (242) 393-1317