The Grand Bahama National Parks Expansion Case Study
The Government of The Bahamas is an active participant in several national, regional and international programs toward meeting global standards in achieving the long term conservation and protection of its terrestrial and marine ecosystems. As a signatory to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), it is committed to the establishment and effective management of a comprehensive and ecologically representative system of Protected Areas, as further articulated in the CBD’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) for the Bahamas. The Bahamas has shown leadership in the implementation of the PoWPA, both globally and in the Caribbean region, through the Bahamas 2020 Declaration and the promotion of the Caribbean Challenge, launched in2008. In so doing, the Bahamas has confirmed its intent to meet and even exceed the CBD goals by setting aside at least 20% of its coastal marine waters as marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2020.
The Government of The Bahamas has also committed to other components of the Caribbean Challenge, including the development and implementation of ecosystem-based projects aimed at adapting to climate change and the development of sustainable finance mechanisms to fund protected areas. In this framework, the ReefFix case study in Bahamas encompasses two distinct components:
The development of the park proposals will encompass the full spectrum of goals and objectives setting, information collection and analysis, the development of park establishment and expansion scenarios and conclusive recommendations for BNT’s consideration. The BNT has already undertaken an Ecological Gap Assessment including an overview of the protection status of major habitats and key species, as well as a series of assessments regarding management effectiveness, capacity and sustainable finance.
The Ecological Gap Assessment provides the foundation for addressing the biological context, having already identified the conservation goals of greater importance to the national economy of The Bahamas. These include groundwater, beaches, mangroves, spawning aggregations and coral reefs. The assessment observes that the existing national parks offer no protection for coral reefs and seagrass systems with poor representation of mangroves, tidal creeks, beaches and rocky shores.