Taking Action for Wetlands Restoration by Planting Mangroves
By: Leah Carr
February 6th, 2023 – Nassau, Bahamas
World Wetlands Day 2023 was recently observed globally under the theme “It’s Time for Wetlands Restoration.”
For our part, The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) hosted a ceremonial mangrove planting with many of our partners, governmental and nongovernmental alike. We were proud to have the Minister of Environment & Natural Resources the Hon. Vaughn Miller; Member of Parliament for Southern Shores Leroy Major; and representatives from the Department of Environmental Planning & Protection (DEPP); the Department of Marine Resources; Forestry; the British High Commission; the US Embassy; the Royal Bahamas Defence Force; the Royal Bahamas Police Force; The Nature Conservancy; Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS); Baha Mar; Atlantis; and farmers from surrounding communities. These supporters joined us in celebration of wetlands worldwide and one of our special Bahamian wetland ecosystems, mangroves.
Mangroves are vital wetland habitats that provide many ecosystem benefits for people and the planet, especially for us here in The Bahamas. From protecting low-lying coastal communities during storms to acting as a nursery for marine species that The Bahamas’ fishing and tourism industries are heavily dependent upon.
The ceremonial mangrove planting took place at Bonefish Pond National Park (BPNP). BPNP protects the last intact tidal mangrove ecosystem in New Providence. It has historically and unfortunately been used as an illegal dumping site, making it the recipient of numerous much-needed restoration efforts over the past decade. As we look to support the objectives of the United Nations “Decade for Ecosystem Restoration,” these restoration efforts for these essential areas are increasingly important.
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources the Hon. Vaughn Miller put it as such: “Much like terrestrial forests, wetlands and mangrove forests are the lungs of our planet.”
BNT Executive Director Lakeshia Anderson-Rolle said, “Since our inception, the BNT has been working to protect and conserve wetlands in The Bahamas, and currently protects wetlands within national parks on Abaco, Grand Bahama, New Providence, the Exumas, Conception Island, San Salvador, and Inagua.
“Approximately 37% of New Providence’s coastal mangrove systems have been lost since the early 1950s; so Bonefish Pond National Park is truly a last-stand ecosystem. It’s also an important community space; thousands of Bahamians and visitors come here every year to experience the wonders of wetlands. The BNT’s vision for this national park – and we’re so happy the Ministry of Public Works & Utilities is partnering with us to fulfill it – is to sustainably develop this park into a true community and recreation space, where all visitors can explore the beauty of this mangrove system.”
The efforts at BPNP compose only a fraction of our work to restore wetlands across The Bahamas. The BNT has been working with partners such as Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Friends of the Environment, Mang, and local communities to restore mangroves in Abaco and Grand Bahama, where Hurricane Dorian devastated extensive wetland habitats in 2019.
Anderson-Rolle said, “We continue to prioritize education and outreach to raise the awareness needed on wetlands and inspire the next generation and future to take action to protect and restore their wetlands. One small action, like the mangroves we will plant here today, can have a ripple effect and a far-reaching impact that will lead to more positive conservation actions. When we restore our wetlands, this leads to increased biodiversity, improved water supply, enhanced protection against floods and storms, more local and sustainable livelihoods, increased tourism and recreation, and increased carbon storage, among many other benefits. So let us continue to come together to safeguard our national parks, conserve, and restore our wetland systems.”
Of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources’ support, Mr. Miller added, “We look forward to our wonderful partnership and a tremendous working relationship [with the BNT]. We continue to do this not for me or my generation, but for your generation and for generations yet unborn.”
World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually on February 2 to highlight the value of wetlands and raise awareness about the issues they face. For more information on World Wetlands Day, visit this webpage. To learn more about the BNT’s mangrove restoration efforts, visit our mangrove conservation webpage at https://bnt.bs/mangroves.
Media Contact: Leah Carr | firstname.lastname@example.org | (242) 429-7902
Photo Credit: Elijah Sands, Bahamas National Trust
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.