Rand Nature Centre
Acquired by the BNT in 1992 the Rand Nature Centre comprises 100 Acres of natural beauty near the heart of downtown Freeport, Grand Bahama. The Rand Nature Centre’s foot trails wind through pine barrens, native and exotic coppice and lead out to a fresh water watchable wildlife pond and a native plant arboretum. The Centre, which also houses an exhibit room and art gallery is now the home of the administrative office of the BNT in Grand Bahama. The foot trails wind through pine barrens, native and exotic coppice and lead out to a fresh water watchable wildlife pond and a native plant arboretum.
- Established: 1992
- Size: 100 acres
The Rand Nature Centre was established in 1968 by Mrs. Dorothy Rand in memory of her husband James Rand, an American inventor and philanthropist. The Nature Centre was created for the purpose of preserving an area of natural beauty, where visitors could enjoy Bahamian wildlife and flora and learn about the environmental education and research facility by its first Director, American Naturalist, Dr. Paul Fluck.
The Rand Memorial Nature Centre (RMNC) was constructed by the Colonial Research Institute (CRI) in 1969, and until 1990, was financially supported by this institution. In 1990 it became clear that CRI would no longer be able to financially support this body, and the persons in charge began to look for an organization whose objectives and financial resources would enable the RMNC to be maintained. A letter to The Bahamas National Trust stated CRI’s intent to make the RMNC an independent entity that would be given the CRI’s leasehold in the property, and rights to all improvements made on the property. The entire entity would then be transferred to an organization that CRI felt would be able to best take care of it in the future. This is when a proposal was given to the BNT’s Executive Committee to incorporate the RMNC into the National Park system. Due to the limited resources of the BNT it was decided that the RMNC needed to become self-sufficient and therefore the Centre needed to increase visitor numbers and increase contact with the general public of Grand Bahama. A 99 year lease was signed, conferring 100 acres of property owned by the Grand Bahama Port Authority to the control of the BNT in February 1992. The Bahamas National Trust assumed responsibility for the facility in 1991 and has continued the vision of its founders. Guided tours, school programs, animals exhibits and natural history displays are among the many environmental activities at the Centre.
Importance to Biodiversity
Native flora: Easy to follow trails wind through the native pine forest and branch off into secluded areas, with many benches along the way for rest and relaxation. The Centre boasts a wide diversity of native flora and guided tours highlight the uses of Bahamian Plants in “Bush Medicine” Orchids begin blooming along the trail in spring and summer, but visitors will find other plants blooming at other times of the year.
Bird life: The Nature Centre is well-known as a birding hot spot, especially in October to May when the resident bird population is supplemented by wintering northern songbirds. Commonly sighted birds of the RMNC include Red-legged Thrushes, Cuban Emerald Hummingbirds, LaSagra’s Flycatchers, Bahama Yellow throats and a host of other warblers. Observant visitors may spot other wildlife such as Curly-tailed lizards, 5 lined skinks, colourful butterflies and even raccoons which were first introduced to Grand Bahama in the 1930’s.
Flamingo Pond: This man-made freshwater pond is landscaped with native and exotic vegetation. It once was the home of a small flock of flamingos, which had resided here alongside the water lilies, fresh water turtles, and mosquito fish. Today the flamingos are no longer there but other native wild birds now call Flamingo pond home. This pond has a viewing deck that was donated by Southern Power.
Importance to Education
Visitors Centre: The entrance building houses educational displays, the gift shop, restrooms, meeting room and staff offices. Natural history exhibits feature such topics as island geology and ecology and a collection of Bahamian Sea Shells. Also on display at the Visitor’s Centre are several animals including the endangered Bahama Parrot, a Red-tailed Hawk, two Bahamian Boa Constrictors and a West Indian Pea Cock.
Importance to Tourism
Tours: Guided tours are offered by appointment on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s to a minimum of four persons. The informative leisurely walk along the more than 2,000 feet of forest trails encompasses all points of interest in the Centre. School programs which include an introductory talk and guided tour, may be scheduled.