Bahamas announces massive expansion of protected areas

In efforts to make good on its commitment to tripling protection of marine and coastal areas by 2020, parameters outlined under the Nature Conservancy’s Caribbean Challenge Initiative, the Ministry of the Environment in the Bahamas has announced the creation of 15 new parks and three park expansions, covering 4.5 million hectares of land.

Rock iguana, San Salvador Island., Bahamas.

Rock iguana, San Salvador Island., Bahamas. Image by James St. John / CC BY 2.0

These areas are home to many endangered and threatened species such as rock iguanas, queen conch, Nassau grouper and spiny lobster. The protected region is also home to more than 80% of the seabirds in the Bahamas. This effort has surpassed the original target of 2.5 million hectares, and Kenred Dorsett, minister of the environment and housing, believes that the initiative will not only be instrumental in protecting the Bahamas’ unique fauna, but that it will also benefit the nation’s economy: 'Protected areas constitute an important stock of natural, cultural and social capital, yielding flows of economically valuable goods and services that benefit society, secure livelihoods, and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.'

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