On Saturday 16th December the Bahamas National Trust’s Bonefish Pond National Park received an early Christmas gift! Rotary of East Nassau and Rotary International partnered with us on a climate resiliency initiative, a cause that is of a priority to Rotary International President Elect Barry Rassin (who by the way is the first every Bahamian and, for that matter, Caribbean national to be appointed to this esteemed role). To kick off Mr. Rassin’s Presidency he and his wife Esther spent the afternoon with BNT staff and fellow Rotarians planting mangrove propogules and seedlings at Bonefish Pond. The plants were donated by Atlantis and the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve (another beautiful BNT park located on Eleuthera).
While a bigger collaborative project is planned for the Spring of 2018, we were thrilled to move ahead with this small mangrove restoration which is vital to the conservation of The Bahamas.
Bonefish Pond National Park was established in 2002 and is in fact one of the last remaining, comprehensive and intact mangrove systems on new Providence. I bet most of you reading this had no idea that in 2002 this area was a mere dumping ground with an almost 20′ high mountain of garbage from the roadway to the sea edge. The BNT has been working hard over the years to bring this to a thriving mangrove area once again, creating an environment where small fish and crawfish to thrive, but also a place that Bahamians can also explore and enjoy. Our area of choice today for this initiative was a small creek on one of the last old dumping areas.
With a mid afternoon start we were fortunate to have cool weather so that we could happily get stuck into the work. The plants had been delivered earlier so that the mangroves could begin to acclimate to their new environment. Late morning saw the arrival of BNT staff as well as the famed Rotary hamburger van and soon all of the volunteers started rolling in. Not only were there members from Rotary of East Nassau but there were also representatives from Rotary Sunrise, Rotary South East, Rotary West and Rotaract. Special guests: Kyle and Emily Geraci who were guests of Rotary East Nassau and were visiting from Portland on their honeymoon!
As Lindy Knowles (BNT Senior Science Officer) indicates, the objective of the afternoon was to plant mangroves in this empty area in order to facilitate the closing and coming together of the mangroves on each side of this creek bed. A small channel was created to allow tides to send water into the creek, bringing more nutrients to aide the mangroves in growing. The BNT has been initiating similar restoration projects over the last 10 years to bring Bonefish Pond to the level that it is today.
Mangrove ecosystems are super important, particularly in a low lying country such as the Bahamas, in order to protect us against inevitable climate change. They help to take energy out of the storm waves that often thrash the shoreline. The ecosystem of the mangrove is quite impressive and once they are thriving they are formidable plants and do their job of protection exceptionally well. Sadly, we as a nation have spent more time tearing mangrove systems out that in protecting and restoring them. Recent severe storm floods on the south side of New Providence are a clear indicator of how valuable the mangrove systems are.
Adrian White of Rotary of East Nassau was one of the drivers of today’s initiative and according to Adrian “the importance and significance of this afternoon’s project is to preserve the environment for future generations and more importantly to prepare our communities for the effects of climate change… as climate change happens the result is that tide levels will rise and low lying countries such as The Bahamas will suffer”.
Many of the Rotarian volunteers had never been to Bonefish Pond and so once the planting was complete they took the opportunity to explore a little bit, strolling along our beautiful boardwalk. It’s hard to explain the beauty of this location until you visit it yourself – it doesn’t feel like you’re in Nassau as it’s quiet, peaceful, undisturbed. It’s a fantastic spot for spending an afternoon with friends/family, paddling, floating, kayaking….or simply bird or cloud watching. There’s a lot of work to be done at Bonefish Pond – the BNT would love to extend the boardwalk, have permanent bathroom facilities, hire full time security and so much more. Hopefully initiatives such as our mangrove restoration will begin to highlight more effectively how important these natural resources are, thereby encouraging more Bahamians and visitors to get involved either through volunteering or via membership/donations to support the BNT.
Thank you to Rotary International, Rotary Club of East Nassau, Rotary Sunrise for your time and efforts – we loved spending the afternoon with you! And as always thank you to Bahamas Waste for their valued and continued support of Bahamas National Trust projects and initiatives. We couldn’t “go” without you!!
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