The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) anticipates being able to complete the first phase of its Science Technology Education and Maintenance (STEM) building at Warderick Wells, the headquarters of the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park (ECLSP), by year’s-end. This is thanks to generous gifts from FTX Digital Markets and the Leticia and Eduardo Azar Foundation. Both entities made significant donations where their combined gifts will cover the cost of the initial build-out for the STEM building. A gift matching opportunity presented by Jason Callender on behalf of the Callender Family will finance the second phase interior fit-out of the building to allow its completion. In total, $1.6M is pledged to be raised towards this project.
Prior to these recent gifts, ALBANY Resort provided the resources for architectural drawings and design, including construction plans and interior outfitting of the STEM building. Fifty percent of the funding to purchase the prefabricated structure was generously given by
ALBANY Resort, along with the in-kind donation of its storage until additional investment was secured to begin the building’s construction in 2022.
The STEM building for science-based conservation and education is an essential component in the BNT’s plan for growth for the ECLSP. The new facility will equip the world’s first land and sea park with the support systems necessary for its present and planned operations. Included in the facility will be: comfortable living conditions for eight BNT staff; a modern workshop; accommodations for 20 students at a time to visit the park for nature-based educational experiences; a wet lab and other support services for visiting research scientists; and a 37,000 gallon fresh water tank and waste management systems.
Zoë Gibson-Bowleg, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at FTX Digital Markets, said about their support, “The Bahamas is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Our natural beauty is the foundation of our successful tourism industry. Therefore, it is incumbent
upon every Bahamian to ensure we do whatever it takes to protect the environment, especially against climate change. We at FTX use our resources to maximize impact. We chose to partner with The Bahamas National Trust because of its long and sustained history of protecting the environment. We look forward to the successes that will result from this partnership.”
Eduardo Azar, Chairman of dLocal, said his family loves to visit the Exumas and has taken many memorable trips there. “The true beauty of the Exumas is like no other place we’ve ever been to,” Azar said. “The crystal-clear waters, the diverse marine life, and the vast beaches make the Exumas so unique. It is especially imperative that these natural resources be conserved and effectively managed. The work of the BNT is vital to keeping this country beautiful, pristine, and truly unique. We’re happy to partner with FTX to help protect the beauty of The Bahamas.”
The Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park is the oldest land and sea park in the world. It protects 174,194 acres of terrestrial and marine ecosystems and offers a prime destination for boating activities within The Bahamas. While the construction of the multipurpose STEM building is the main priority for the BNT’s plans, there are a number of other projects and goals slated for 2022 and beyond that the organisation hopes to secure financing for. These include the expansion of infrastructure at their Exuma headquarters in Warderick Wells; the addition of warden outposts at northern and southern park boundaries; and creating capacity for enhanced enforcement of the ECLSP, which is a strict “no-take zone,” serving as a sanctuary for a myriad of marine species.
Jason Callender, whose family has a long history of supporting the BNT, said, “Growing up in New Providence, the Exumas was our backyard. That chain of islands has always been our special place where we would enjoy the best crystal blue waters and white sandy beaches the world has to offer. The ECLSP has served to protect this raw beauty and act as a safe harbour for the many species of sea life that exist in this precious ‘no-take zone’.
“It is more important than ever to make visitors aware of the special and fragile nature of the land and marine environment and make sure they’re educated by organisations like the BNT to the fact that their use and enjoyment of our islands and waters is a privilege and not a
right… and that comes with a level of respect and responsibility.”
BNT President Geoff Andrews said, “This STEM building is truly the next step to elevate the ECLSP to the next level. It’s already a very special park, but with this development it will have even more to offer local and international communities. We thank the Azar and Callender families, FTX, and ALBANY Resort for their partnership and financial commitment to helping us build this dream facility.”