The Ministry of Environment and Housing and the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources have revealed plans for two multimillion-dollar projects aimed at reconstructing coral reefs and forests that were severely damaged or destroyed due to Hurricane Dorian last September.
A $20 million budget has been set for a four-phase project aimed at the remediation and restoration of the impacted forest ecosystems of Grand Bahama and Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, according to a plan outlined on the government’s website.
That funding would cover the establishment of a national reforestation program ($5 million), the management and monitoring of the forest ecosystems and climate change impacts ($10 million), capacity building and public awareness ($1 million) and small scale industry/economic stimulus for island communities ($4 million).
“It is the Ministry of Environment and Housing’s short-term objective to remediate and restore the impacted forest ecosystems of Grand Bahama and Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Moreover, it is the ministry’s medium- to long-term aspiration to develop resilient reforestation programs that build the country’s awareness and capacity to maintain green islands, while ensuring there is a habitat for wildlife capable of withstanding future environmental shocks,” information on the government’s website notes.
“To fulfil this, the project cycle is a minimum of four years. Some projects are longer term and would require sustained, recurrent government expenditure beyond the initial four-year seed funding period.”
The plan notes that in excess of 100,000 acres of pine forests and wetlands on Grand Bahama and Abaco were severely to catastrophically damaged, but potentially salvageable.
Additionally, a $5 million coral restoration project proposed for Abaco involves the establishment of the Coral Restoration Center, which would provide lab facilities needed for processing coral samples, a land-based, flow-through aquaculture facility specifically designed for effective and efficient coral growth in water nurseries; boat and diving capabilities to support coral reef health assessments and staffing of four to six people, including PhD-level coral experts and technicians.
“Recent advances in coral restoration and coral reef rehabilitation, however, show promise for helping reefs recover from impacts like those caused by Hurricane Dorian. To safeguard The Bahamas’ coral reefs and ecosystem, there are three basic techniques for restoring corals the department seeks to explore to rehabilitate reefs in water nurseries: micro-fragmentation and larval propagation,” the plan notes.
“In wake of Hurricane Dorian and climate change, the Department of Marine Resources commits to resilient means of adaptation to protect its coral reef ecosystem.”
The information on the government’s website did not provided details on how funding for these projects would be secured.