Mangroves are essential to our global ecosystem but especially important to us in The Bahamas. Seventy percent of marine life worldwide relies on mangroves for habitat. Mangroves provide around $2.7 trillion in ecosystem benefits around the world. They improve our water quality, stabilize our coasts and trap carbon dioxide to keep our planet healthy. They protect low-lying communities by reducing flooding and acting as natural buffers from strong waves and powerful winds during storms. The protection they provide during extreme weather events such hurricanes and tsunamis is unmatched by any man-made barrier or structure to-date.
Despite the overwhelming value mangroves provide, they are being exploited and destroyed around the world. We need to protect and preserve mangrove forests to ensure they’re here for now and tomorrow!
Mangroves are supreme carbon sinks. They absorb and store up to 10x more carbon per hectare than forests on land.
Mangroves protect coastal communities from flooding and storm surges. They also stabilize coastlines and help create new land.
Mangroves are a haven for biodiversity. They serve as nurseries for numerous species, many of which are economically important.
Image Credit: Jillian Morris-Brake
Many of the marine species we love to eat like crawfish, grouper, and conch grow up in mangrove ecosystems.
In September 2019 the northern Bahamas was directly hit by category five Hurricane Dorian. Research conducted by Bonefish and Tarpon Trust showed that 73% of mangroves in Grand Bahama and 40% of mangroves in Abaco were damaged by this single storm. Hurricane Dorian, coupled with various other storm events in recent years, unsustainable coastal development, and a plethora of other natural and anthropogenic threats have solidified the necessity for immediate intervention to protect and restore our mangroves.
The BNT’s work to conserve mangroves is focused on promoting habitat recovery, building ecosystem resilience and fostering community appreciation for these at-risk ecosystems. Through innovative research and the use of nature-based solutions we hope to restore degraded mangrove forests, while creating education and outreach activities to involve local communities in our work.
The BNT seeks to restore coastal and mangrove areas across Abaco, Andros, and Grand Bahama; particularly those that were impacted by Hurricane Dorian and those that are adjacent to local communities. We are also working to support the creation of new national parks and protected areas that preserve mangroves, and restore and build habitat resilience in existing national parks.
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Want to learn more about the projects, programs and people working to protect and restore mangroves in The Bahamas? Check out some of our featured mangrove impact stories below:
National Parks managed by The BNT protect large areas of mangrove forests around the archipelago. The mangrove habitats protected in these national parks are safeguarded from development, pollution, invasive species, and other unnatural threats.
By managing and monitoring national parks, we are ensuring these mangrove forests stay healthy and can continue providing ecosystem benefits that go far beyond their boundaries. Mangrove habitats protected in national parks are vital to the environmental health of the islands where they exist.
The West Side National Park, the largest national park in The Bahamas protects 1.5 acres of land and sea – with the majority of this area being mangroves. The Bonefish Pond National Park protects the last remaining intact tidal mangrove ecosystem on the island of New Providence.
The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, the world’s first land and sea park, was created to protect important mangrove systems and other habitats from development.
Explore other parks that protect extensive mangrove habitats:
Lucayan National Park, Moriah Harbour Cay National Park, Conception Island National Park
We believe collaboration is key to success. The BNT works with several partners and our mangrove conservation work is supported by several organisations and corporations.
The BNT works closely with Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, Mang, Friends of The Environment, and the East End Lodge on the Northern Bahamas Mangrove Restoration Project. This project is an ambitious effort to restore extensive mangrove habitat in Abaco and Grand Bahama post-Dorian. The BNT’s efforts are backed by Re:Wild.
Other partners and supporters are also supporting other mangrove conservation programs around The Bahamas.