Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve celebrates 10 years on Eleuthera

Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve celebrates 10 years on Eleuthera
The Visitors Centre at the Leon Levy Native Preserve. (PHOTO: BNT)

ELEUTHERA, BAHAMAS — The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve (LLNPP), an historic national park managed by the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) on the island of Eleuthera, will celebrate its 10-year anniversary next week Wednesday, March 24.

Founded by Shelby White in honor of her late husband, Leon Levy, the LLNPP is a living part of Bahamian history. It is the fulfillment of the vision of Shelby and Leon, who both loved the natural environment and way of life on Eleuthera. After Leon’s passing in 2003, Shelby wanted to honor her husband and his interest in the preservation of the local bush medicine culture among Eleutherans. As such, through funding from the Leon Levy Foundation, the LLNPP was created. It is the first and only national park on Eleuthera. Located in Governor’s Harbour, the LLNPP spans 30 acres and serves as a research center for traditional bush medicine; a facility for the propagation of indigenous plants and trees; and an educational center focusing on the importance of native vegetation to the biodiversity of The Bahamas.

The LLNPP offers visitors the opportunity to explore trails through wetlands and native coppice where native orchids and broad-leaved hardwoods can be viewed in their natural habitat. Special areas highlight medicinal plants that are used in traditional Bahamian “bush medicine” and plants that are part of our edible history, providing a unique insight into Bahamian culture.

In April 2019, the LLNPP became the first institution in The Bahamas to be designated as an accredited botanic garden by Botanic Gardens Conservation International. This tier of accreditation recognizes institutions for their achievements in plant conservation. To receive this distinguished designation, a botanic garden must have: documented collections, public access, an education program, research capacity and a long-term strategic plan, among other things.

The preserve’s long-range plans include providing support for tertiary-level research in both botany and plant taxonomy, mentorship programs and partnerships with regional institutions to promote plant conservation.

Ten years on, the LLNPP continues to make significant strides in conserving Bahamian flora and fauna, promoting opportunities for people to enjoy nature and fostering the well-being of local communities on the island of Eleuthera.

To celebrate a decade of environmental conservation, the LLNPP will host an open house on March 24.

Admission to the preserve will be free. The LLNPP and the BNT invite the public to celebrate with them. For this event, all appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place to ensure the safety of visitors.

To learn more about the role the BNT plays in managing terrestrial and marine national parks, protecting species that inhabit them and informing environmental policy, please visit its website at www.bnt.bs and follow/subscribe to various social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube).