Implementing Land, Water and Ecosystems Management in The Bahamas
Home to some of the most diverse habitats and endangered species in the world, The Bahamas has more than 700 islands and 2,500 cays stretched across 100,000 square miles (259,000 square kilometres) of ocean. Approximately 30 of the islands are inhabited and the Department of Statistics estimated that the population was approximately 351,471 in 2010.
The natural environments of this archipelago are linked to its economic vibrancy. However, its habitats and species, remain under threat from the adverse effects of climate change, modifications to natural systems, human intrusions, development, and invasive species. There are vast expanses of Caribbean pine forests, tidal flats with thriving bonefish populations, extensive barrier reefs and the highest concentration of blue holes in the Western Hemisphere which are distinctive features. From coral reefs and wetlands to mangroves, the country’s fish nursery habitats stimulate fisheries stocks throughout the region. There are also rare species like the Bahama parrot, the Rock iguana, Kirtland’s warbler, West Indian flamingo, Hutia, Smalltooth sawfish, Queen conch, and Loggerhead, Hawksbill, and Green turtles.
The northernmost island in the archipelago and second most populous, Grand Bahama, has an intricate network of woodland, coppice, and wetlands as well as coral reefs, shallow water marine habitats, caves, sinkholes and blue holes. East Grand Bahama is home to a collection of endemic and endangered plant, fish and wildlife species. Over the years, severe weather phenomena including hurricanes, associated storm surges and flooding have adversely impacted the island. Water and land resources have also suffered from damaging agricultural, economic development, and tourism practices.
The IWEco The Bahamas project is focused on ecologically important mangrove wetlands and pine forests which encompass East Grand Bahama. It will develop further capacity for sustainable livelihoods, implement land and watershed restoration and increase ecosystem resilience.
In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful storms on record, caused massive devastation to the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. East Grand Bahama was directly in the path of the hurricane. The storm battered the islands for two days with wind speeds of up to 185 mph, immense storm surges and considerable flooding. The IWEco Bahamas Project therefore additionally aims to bolster the restoration and revitalization of East Grand Bahama and enhance earning potential.
This GEF Medium-sized Project (MSP) has a three (3) year duration. It started in February 2020 and is scheduled to end in January 2023. The total project value is $1.7 million US, of which the GEF grant is $863,242.
The components of this Project align closely with the UNEP-implemented GEF-funded Implementing Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (IWEco) Project. As such, although The Bahamas Project is coordinated directly by the UN Environment Programme Task Manager to the GEF rather than the Project Coordinating Unit based in Kingston, Jamaica at the Secretariat of the Cartagena Convention, it is part of the IWEco family and benefits from regionally planned activities and tools being developed under the regional project.
Project components include:
Development and implementation of integrated, innovative technical solutions for the maintenance of ecosystem health.
Strengthening of national environmental monitoring and evaluation systems.
Strengthening of the enabling environment in support of policy, legislative and institutional reforms and increase of capacity for sustainable natural resource management.
Enhancing knowledge exchange, best practices, replication and stakeholder involvement in natural resource management.
Status of Project
The Bahamas Project’s Inception Workshop was held on 30th September 2020, bringing together stakeholders whose contributions will be integral to advancing and fulfilling objectives. Project consultants have been engaged and have begun the essential preparatory work necessary for mobilization. Considering the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, forthcoming strategies are expected to be flexible and adaptive.
The final report (Part 2) of a study conducted in 2020-21 by the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), University of the West Indies, and supported by IWEco under Component 2.
Documentary tells the story of the Global Environment Facility-funded Integrating Watersheds and Coastal Areas Management in Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean (IWCAM) Project which was implemented in 13 Caribbean SIDS between 2006 – 2011.
IWCAM Short introduction
Short introduction to the Global Environment Facility-funded Integrating Watersheds and Coastal Areas Management in Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean (IWCAM) Project, which was implemented in 13 Caribbean SIDS between 2006 – 2011.