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BREEF underscores safeguarding Bahamian biodiversity at its virtual Eco-Schools Bahamas coordinators workshop

Safeguarding Bahamian biodiversity is a priority because it is essential to protecting the well-being of Bahamians and their way of life, according to Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation’s (BREEF) executive director.

McKinney-Lambert made the statement during BREEF’s second virtual Eco-Schools Bahamas Coordinators Workshop, under the theme, “Safeguarding Bahamian Biodiversity”, to promote the importance of protecting biodiversity and environmental sustainability in The Bahamas.

The annual workshop also included contributions from Dr. Nick Higgs, director of research and innovation, Cape Eleuthera Island School; Dr. Ethan Freid, botanist at The Bahamas National and Trust Leon Levy Plant Preserve, in Governor’s Harbour Eleuthera; and Dr. Selima Hauber, agricultural education and outreach officer for the Centre for Training & Innovation, One Eleuthera Foundation.

Higgs, who spoke on marine biodiversity, said one of the best things people can do to protect biodiversity is supporting the creation of marine-protected areas.

Freid, who spoke on the significant relationship between taxonomy and conservation, and presented on “Plant Diversity and the Lucayan Archipelago”, highlighted the evolution of plants, and the importance of plant biodiversity globally and in the Lucayan archipelago, in particular, The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands.

Hauber’s presentation centered around re-embracing heritage crops to achieve food security and improve health in a warming climate. She examined the impact that lifestyle choices like diet has on people’s health and the benefits of growing and consuming Bahamian heritage crops.

Hazel Collette-Adams, Eco-Schools Bahamas’ newest coordinator from The Beacon School on Grand Bahama, said she found the information enriching as awareness is the first step to ignite action to safeguard Bahamian biodiversity.

“I am privileged to work with an awesome group of dedicated and inspiring educators and volunteers who continue to pursue excellence in environmental education and environmental stewardship in our children. Throughout this pandemic, they have shown their resilience and adaptability by embracing many challenges and turning them into opportunities for creativity and learning,” said Kevin Glinton, BREEF’s education coordinator and Eco-Schools Bahamas national operator.

The Eco-Schools Bahamas program has grown from seven schools in the pilot program to 38 government and private schools, including four recently registered schools, spread over six islands of The Bahamas. It is also a part of Eco-Schools Global, the largest sustainable schools program in the world, supporting student environment leaders in over 68 countries.

BREEF has been running Eco-Schools in The Bahamas since 2009. Eco-Schools Bahamas is part of the international award program developed in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education. The Eco-Schools Bahamas program promotes environmental stewardship by creating an awareness of local and global environmental challenges. Through a simple, seven-step process, Eco-Schools empowers children to take action for the environment by engaging them in fun, action-oriented learning, and community outreach activities.

Schools interested in learning more about Eco-Schools Bahamas and how to register can call BREEF’s office at 242-327-9000 or email ecoschoolsbahamas@breef.org.

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