As part of the Global Environment Facility-funded Integrated Water and Coastal Area Management (IWCAM) Project, the Bahamas National Trust and The Nature Conservancy spearheaded the restoration of the Bonefish Pond National Park, removing tonnes of waste, improving water flow, and replanting mangroves. Five years after the conclusion of IWCAM Project, monitoring shows that the project’s impacts and benefits continue:
[T]hough the project has closed, the project team is basking in their achievements and continuing efforts to ensure the sustainability of the Bonefish Pond National Park.
One significant achievement is that visibility of the pond has improved significantly and the wildlife, too is increasing. In recent times, the team recorded 100 fishes from 10-12 species living in the pond. In addition, twenty mangrove plots have been added bringing the total numbers of mangrove trees replanted or transplanted to six hundred and thirty-five.
The project is not without the involvement of youth. Using community and school groups such as the Discovery Club, the Governor General’s Youth Award Programme and the Young Marine Explorers, local high school students are gaining valuable experience in protecting the marine environment through the replanting of mangroves and monitoring the progress of their activities.
Lindy Knowles, project representative from the Bahamas National Trust, explained how the team was working in spite of all the challenges. ‘We lost a large number of our mangrove plants initially because of where the trees were planted in relation to the water, we learnt some lessons and we have been successful in replanting 50-70% of those plants’.
He added that the rate of the growth of mangrove plants in The Bahamas is not as rapid as the rate in other islands, but that the team is experimenting with other mangrove species to establish solutions that work best for the island.
Invasive species as well as local mariners and fishermen also present concerns. As a result, removal of invasive species as well as education, capacity building, outreach and awareness are some of the top priorities. The establishment of a visitors centre, improving fish life, improving the consistency of water quality and continued efforts to remove invasive species are also among the plans for the National Park.
Knowles says that the aim is to enhance the park, restore it to its once pristine condition and to continue to protect those areas that are worth protecting.
In the long-term, The Bahamas will experience greater benefits as increased fish life means greater food security and robust mangrove plants mean protection from the ill-effects of climate change and greater reduction in the effects of hurricanes and flooding.
Find out more from UN Environment’s Caribbean Environment Programme.
[Image: via Panoramio]