MCLEAN’S TOWN, GRAND BAHAMA — A community planting day was hosted by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT), as part of continued multi-year efforts on Grand Bahama and Abaco to re-grow mangrove forests that will help buffer the islands from future climate disasters.
The planting event took place last weekend in the Maclean’s Town area of East End Grand Bahama, with students, scientists, government officials, bonefishing guides, and community members all taking part.
Grand Bahama native and BTT Bahamas Coordinator Nina Sanchez said: “One of the things that we try to drive home, is that restoration is kind of a last resort. We really want to preserve, protect, and conserve the environments that we have by getting students out onto these flats, getting their hands dirty, and realizing that these are incredibly productive habitats.
“In addition to the flats fishing industry, they support a lot of commercially important fish species – conch, grouper, snapper. All of them are important to Bahamian culture and economy and being out here and seeing it with your own eyes is an important part,” Sanchez said.
The event was part of the Northern Bahamas Mangrove Restoration Project, which has the objective of planting 100,000 – if not far more – new mangroves by the end of 2024. So far, BTT and its partners have worked with the fishing community, schools, local stakeholders, and government agencies to plant 20,000 mangroves, marking a milestone in the project.
Post-Dorian observations conducted by BTT and other local science partners, such as the Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) and Bahamas National Trust (BNT), showed that huge areas of native mangrove forests in Grand Bahama and Abaco were decimated by the storm and are now in dire need of restoration.
Mangroves are a vital natural resource that builds island resilience in the face of future climate-driven storms, coastal flooding, and sea level rise. They are also important to the bonefishing industry and everyone to whom it provides a livelihood, as noted by Leroy Glinton, a bonefishing guide from McClean’s Town.
James, a student volunteer from Bishop Michael Eldon School and Hurricane Dorian survivor, said: “I went through the painful time but being here and being about the mangroves has inspired me to plant more and protect others from future natural disasters.”
Another student Troy, while joyfully covered in mud added: “It really gave me a lot of insight into the importance of mangroves, their life cycles, and how they shield us from the storms. I liked being able to help plant more of them so they can protect us in the future and future generations as well.”
In addition to replanting, BTT and its partners aim to raise community awareness and engagement about the importance of mangrove forests and the serious threats they face today. Partnerships are now in development to scale mangrove restoration and protection throughout The Bahamas. BTT is collaborating with other groups similarly committed to mangrove restoration, science, and conservation education.
In a press statement, BTT thanked a host of key partners from the public sector and private sector. Future mangrove planting days will be announced by BTT and other conservation partners throughout 2023. The group also invited people to get involved with the project by emailing email@example.com.