On Saturday night, at the Bahamas National Trust 50th Gala Ball in Nassau, Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham reconfirmed his government’s commitment to the Caribbean Challenge and “the orderly expansion of our national parks system to include up to 10 percent of the terrestrial areas and 20 percent of the near-shore marine resources of the country.”
The new parks encompass some of The Bahamas most pristine lands and waters, and include:
In his announcement, Prime Minister Ingraham also noted, “We are mindful of the pressures of development in certain parts of The Bahamas, and equally mindful of our duty to protect the interest of our people and integrity of our resources.”
The Bahamas continues to increase conservation momentum within the Caribbean. In addition to these new parks, the government recently extended legal protection to all species of sea turtles found within its waters. They may not be hunted, trapped or otherwise harmed or harassed.
“Through their commitment to the Caribbean Challenge, the governments of the Caribbean are in the forefront of island conservation around the world,” says Philip Kramer, the Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Caribbean program. “In The Bahamas, the Conservancy is proud to work in partnership with Prime Minister Ingraham’s government as well as with the dedicated professionals of the Bahamas National Trust who have been so instrumental in protecting their country’s lands and waters for the last 50 years.”
Since its announcement in 2008, The Bahamas has provided key leadership and support for the Caribbean Challenge. The goal of the Challenge—currently endorsed by five sovereign Caribbean nations—is to not only permanently establish a network of 20 million acres of marine parks across the territorial waters of at least 10 countries, but also to ensure that once established, the protected areas also receive sufficient, permanent funding through sustainable financing tools.
In addition to park user fees and concessions that are constant, renewable sources of operating funds, sustainable finance tools also include dedicated conservation trusts and endowments that will—when fully funded—provide at least $10M in permanent annual funding for research, management, maintenance and the growth of the parks.
“The Conservancy has a long relationship with The Bahamas,” says Eleanor Phillips, the Conservancy’s Northern Caribbean Program Director. “I was at the Ball when the Prime Minister made his announcement and the atmosphere was just celebratory. The appetite for managing and protecting the Bahamas’ natural resources continues to grow."
“It is exciting to see the Caribbean Challenge creating momentum for conservation across the countries of the Caribbean than I have never seen before. Andros is one of my favorite places in the world, so I am particularly happy to see it receive even more protection for its outstanding reefs, beaches, blue holes, tidal creeks and mangroves. Today, I am again, extremely proud to live in a country that remains so committed to its natural lands and waters.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
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