FREEPORT, GRAND BAHAMA – A training team from Mangrove Action Project (MAP) recently concluded a four-day training exercise at The Rand Nature Center.
The MAP team was invited by Waterkeepers Bahamas (WKB) and Earthcare Bahamas as part of its continued mangrove restoration efforts on Grand Bahama following devastation from hurricane Dorian in 2019.
MAP is a US-based nonprofit which collaborates with stakeholders at all levels to preserve, conserve, and restore our world’s mangrove forests. Teams have carried out mangrove restoration projects and trained community leaders around the world including in the Philippines, Thailand, and Cayman Islands.
Executive Director for MAP, Dominic Wodehouse highlighted what makes Grand Bahama unique when it comes to mangrove restoration.
“There is all the hurricane damage and the combination of reasonably high salinity. A lot of areas are rather poorly drained because the mud is flat, but also because of the blue water around you, which is very pretty in terms of scuba diving and vacations, but from our point of view it means there are very few nutrients in the soil so there is very little for the mangroves to grow off.”
Waterkeepers Bahamas Executive Director, Rashema Ingraham said: “We realized a lot of Grand Bahamians are passionate about helping environmental groups like WKB and Earthcare Bahamas, so we thought it would be useful to have experts who have done several types of mangrove restoration projects to assist us with things that we may have overlooked.”
In addition to training, the MAP team also provided recommendations to the local restoration team on best approaches to restoration.
Co-founder, Alfredo Quarto stressed that public education is also key.
“The first step is to conserve what you have,” Quarto said.
“Work your hardest to make sure no mangrove loss happens further from developments like in Bimini.” He “The public is so important and must be involved in the future of these islands.”
Nikeia Watson took part in the training representing the Mammogram Access Program. She explained the health of their patients is intricately linked to what’s happening in the environment – especially in the aftermath of destructive storms.
“We want to assist any environmental group looking to reduce the rate of frequency [of storms] and protection for our citizens. Mangroves are a barrier for storm surges and a lot of people got flooded in Dorian. So whatever we can do to reduce those kinds of shocks to our patients we are looking to assist any way we can.”
Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (BPAF) provided funding for the MAP training. BPAF is a funder of protected areas management and coastal resilience and has been working for a number of months raising funds for mangrove restoration.
BPAF executive director, Karen Panton said: “We want to make sure that Grand Bahama is prepared in the hopefully unlikely event of another Dorian event.”
Waterkeepers Bahamas has partnered with Earthcare Bahamas, Save The Bays, Coral Vita and Blue Action Lab to harvest and monitor 30,000 mangroves in its nursery by the end of the year, with the goal of out planting them after the hurricane season.
Waterkeepers Bahamas is a Bahamas registered Non Profit Organization focused on community-based initiatives to ensure the waters of the Bahamas are safe for swimming, fishing and drinking for future generations. It is an accredited member of the Waterkeeper® Alliance, the largest and fastest growing global nonprofit, that is solely focused on clean water. Its network of more than 300 organizations and affiliates in over 45 countries are on the frontlines of the global water crisis, patrolling and protecting more than 2.6 million square miles of rivers, lakes and coastal waterways on six continents.