BNT, Sandals Foundation and Volunteers Plant 1,000 Trees at Gold Rock Beach

Cocoplum Tree at Gold Rock Beach to restore the coastline after it was damaged by Hurricane Dorian.

Last week Saturday marked a historic day for environmental conservation in The Bahamas. The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) in collaboration with the Sandals Foundation (SF) and community members planted 1,000 native trees at Gold Rock Beach in the Lucayan National Park. This single-day activity made a significant stride on the road to recovery for the country’s second-most-visited national park.

The goal of this planting activity was to help restore the iconic beach after the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. The trees planted were all native coastal plants that will help to stabilise the dune, create native habitat, and promote sand recovery on the popular beach. Along with restoring the natural areas that were damaged, the trees, once mature, will also build resilience against future storms.

Miss Ann Marie-Carroll, one of the main event organisers remarked, “Gold Rock Beach has been plagued with invasive casuarina trees for decades and because of this, it has been susceptible to severe erosion during hurricanes like Hurricane Matthew and Dorian.

These native coastal trees we’re planting are adapted to survive these environments and protect these coastlines from erosion. The BNT has a small team in Grand Bahama, so volunteer events like this are a help to us. Volunteers of this project can take pride in knowing they helped to restore a world-renowned beach in their own community.”

Over 40 enthusiastic volunteers including local residents, students, and environmentalists showed up to get their hands dirty. The activity was also graced by the presence of Miss Universe 2023 Melissa Ingraham, and Miss Supranational Bahamas 2023 Maliqué Maranda. Miss Bahamas Universe 2023, an environmentalist whose platform is focused on climate action shared, “Our islands are a paradise, but they are also very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as intense storms like Hurricane Dorian. Today, we’ve not only planted native trees to help this coastline recover, but we have sown hope for a more resilient future. I’m honoured to be part of this journey towards restoring the beauty and biodiversity of Gold Rock Beach.”

The Sandals Foundation, known for its commitment to Caribbean communities, provided funding for this activity and other BNT restoration initiatives on the island.

“As a Caribbean organisation, the Sandals Foundation believes very strongly that it is our duty to protect the region’s breathtaking ecosystems. This mandate also rings true for The Bahamas National Trust, which works intently in raising environmental awareness, developing effective conservation practices, and empowering communities and the next generation. Together, we can do more to preserve our islands’ natural treasures for generations to come.” said Patrice Gilpin, Public Relations Manager at Sandals Foundation.

“Our islands’ coasts form part of our very identity as a region. The pristine waters, health of coral reefs, mangrove network, marine biodiversity, and fish populations are the source of livelihood for countless families. Therefore, coastal restoration for us at the Sandals Foundation is the preservation of life and livelihoods as we know it. Especially in this vastly changing climate, we are committed to doing our part to build the resilience of our islands and the people who call this region home.” she continued.

This activity complements and supports other restoration initiatives under the Global Environment Facility Full Size 2020 Project and The Bahamas Protected Areas Fund Restoration Project.

After the volunteer activity was finished and as the sun set on Lucayan National Park, the newly planted trees stood as symbols of hope, community spirit, and a commitment to a sustainable, resilient future.

The BNT thanks all the volunteers who came out to support the activity, and the Sandals Foundation for supporting environmental recovery and resilience in Grand Bahama.