“It’s Time for Wetlands Restoration” is the 26th annual World Wetlands Day theme. Observed on February 2, the same day the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance was signed in 1971, World Wetlands Day aims to raise global awareness about wetlands’ vital role for people and the planet. Nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s. Wetlands are being lost three times faster than forests.
The subaerial surface of The Bahamas consists of over 13,880 km2 of land. Of this, it is estimated that 31% is wetlands, with Inagua National Park being the sole Ramsar-designated protected wetland space in The Bahamas. Many wetland areas across the archipelago have been drained, developed, and converted into residential and commercial areas. In recent years, the government and responsible firms like Bron Ltd. (BRON) have worked to make development more sustainable.
“We all love to be outdoors, in the bush, want to swim and pick cocoplum off the wetlands just like everyone else,” explains BRON Associate Principal- Environmental, Mark Daniels. “Recognizing that development must occur, the country’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations, the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP), environmental NGOs, and environmental consultants help to encourage that balance between development and nature,” Daniels continues.
However, wetlands still face threats from unregulated development, invasive species, pollution, and the excessive growth of algae due to runoff from homes and buildings, with “the biggest threat to our wetlands being climate change and the impact it is having on rising sea levels,” according to Daniels.
As The Bahamas continues to battle severe hurricanes because of climate change, BRON Environmental Scientist Scott Johnson reminds the public that “the perseveration of wetlands is crucial for maintaining the earth’s hydrological cycle and regulating global climate. Wetlands are so important that they rank first in terms of ecological services. They provide account for 47% of the total global ecosystem value. Wetlands serve as water and carbon sinks and assist in protecting infrastructure in low-lying areas by decreasing wave energy. They are important habitats for The Bahamas’ eco-tourism sector for everything from kayaking and bird watching to nurseries for many species of economic importance such as crawfish.”
New Providence is home to several important wetlands, such as Harrold and Wilson Pond, Lake Cunningham, Lake Nancy, and Lake Killarney. Most of the remaining wetlands in New Providence have yet to be studied extensively, leaving major gaps in our understanding of this ecosystem and the effects of the population on such habitats. To counteract this knowledge void, Environmental Scientists from BRON Ltd conducted baseline assessments on Lake Killarney to better understand this terrestrial and aquatic system. The long-term goal is to continue studying the environment and comparing the findings over time.
BRON is a multidisciplinary development company that seeks to make paradise possible for its clients in the most sustainable ways. According to BRON Associate Principal- Environmental Agnessa Lundy, we can all work towards more sustainable development and protection of our wetlands by recognizing that “wetlands are important for our coastal protection and our way of life. They are not ‘stinky’ bodies of water,” she admonished. “We can all do our part by disposing of our trash properly and not putting our tires and other garbage near wetlands or throwing things out of windows when we drive. We should all also work toward reducing the amount of plastic we use because it normally ends up in the sea.”