In recognition of World Mangrove Day, a diverse group consisting of conservation entities and academic institutions committed to collaborating through an unprecedented agreement to scale up efforts to restore mangrove ecosystem function in areas hard-hit by Hurricane Dorian in 2019 that are showing little to no signs of recovery almost four years later.
This agreement was memorialized Wednesday, July 26, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by founding members of the Bahamas Mangrove Alliance (Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, Perry Institute for Marine Science, and Waterkeepers Bahamas), Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute, Bahamas National Trust, Blue Action Lab, Friends of the Environment, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources – Forestry Unit, and The Nature Conservancy. The signing was held at the Harry C. Moore Library – University of The Bahamas. The group will also support developing and implementing a national mangrove restoration and monitoring plan and identify sustainable financing options to support long-term mangrove restoration needs.
“The signing of this MOU on World Mangrove Day is a momentous occasion for The Bahamas and its precious mangrove ecosystems,” stated Rashema Ingraham, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Bahamas, and member of the Bahamas Mangrove Alliance.” Through this collaborative effort, we will increase our capacity to execute restoration projects and pave the way for an ambitious scaling up of scientific research and community involvement in the preservation of these invaluable habitats.”
Mangroves are a critically important habitat for fish and wildlife, and they support Bahamian livelihoods through fishing and tourism. The natural infrastructure provided by mangroves aids in preventing erosion and absorbing storm surges during severe weather such as hurricanes or floods. Mangroves are among the most productive ecosystems on the planet and store up to five times more carbon than upland tropical forests, thus playing an important role in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gasses.
“All my life I’ve spent fishing, and today I’m excited to be a part of the mangrove restoration. This means so much to not only me but to all the folks who live here. When you think about the bonefish, they need the crabs, they need the shrimp, they need the mangroves. I’m filled with joy. To me, this is a dream come true. I remember in 2019 when I came out here after the storm and saw all the dead mangroves. I said, God, You’ve got to help us, and today, I see all of this wonderful work helping to bring it back,” said Sherman Tate, a fishing guide at East End Lodge on East Grand Bahama.
In 2019, Hurricane Dorian struck The Bahamas, devastating about 21,000 hectares of mangrove forests on Abaco Island and 22,000 hectares on Grand Bahama – equivalent to over 80,000 football fields. Some of the impacted areas are slowly regenerating, but due to the loss of mature plants that produce seeds, most of them will not recover without help.
This diverse group of agencies and leading non-profit organizations based in The Bahamas are coming together to increase coordination and ensure long-term support to take on mangrove restoration at scales needed to accelerate natural recovery and prevent further loss of the benefits that mangroves provide, bringing immense value to The Bahamas.
One of the group’s key priorities is to engage with community partners to build local capacity to conduct education and restoration activities such as seed collection, planting, and monitoring.
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