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Bahamas Mangrove Alliance sets goal to plant millions of mangroves by 2025

BAHAMAS Mangrove Alliance has announced a goal of putting “millions of mangroves in the ground” by the end of 2025.

BAHAMAS Mangrove Alliance has announced a goal of putting “millions of mangroves in the ground” by the end of 2025.

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AS World Mangrove Day is celebrated today, a Bahamian alliance has announced a goal of putting “millions of mangroves in the ground” by the end of 2025.

The Bahamas Mangrove Alliance (BMA) was founded in April this year by three conservation groups – the international non-profit organisation Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT) and local non-profits the Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) and Waterkeepers Bahamas (WKB) – and has already planted tens of thousands of new mangroves in Abaco and Grand Bahama.

The alliance says much work lies ahead, however, as the country continues to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.

“As the BMA continues to grow and attract new partners, we are scaling up our restoration efforts and aim to have millions of new trees planted by 2025,” said Jim McDuffie, president and CEO of BTT. “We will accomplish this through the twin approach of community-based plantings fed by the establishment of many new nurseries across The Bahamas, and, by the large-scale distribution of propagules (baby mangroves) by sea and by air.”

Speaking in detail of restoration numbers since 2019, WKB executive director Rashema Ingraham said: "We have made great progress in a very short time. Working with communities, fishermen, scientists, and other NGO partners, our three organisations have planted nearly 100,000 new mangroves thus far. We plan to have another 20,000 propagules in the ground by the end of the week in celebration of World Mangrove Day. Through the efforts of the BMA our funders and allies, replanting in Grand Bahama and Abaco has grown exponentially, putting us on target to exceed 200,000 by the end of 2024 and, as Jim said, scale up to many millions in the future."

She added: "On World Mangrove Day, our mission is to increase awareness about the immense importance of mangroves while acknowledging the urgent threats they face. We take this opportunity to celebrate the remarkable work of conservationists worldwide, dedicated to safeguarding these invaluable resources. Education is a vital aspect of our mission, and today, we unite with the global conservation community to commemorate this significant day, championing the protection and restoration of wetland habitats and the diverse life they nurture."

Dr Craig Dahlgren, a 30-year veteran in local marine science research and executive director of the Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS), said: "Mangroves are vanishing globally at an alarming pace, surpassing the rate of loss seen in forests and other crucial ecosystems. Within The Bahamas, mangroves play a crucial role in supporting a wide array of flora and fauna, including numerous marine species that are vital to our economy. I’m glad to report that nearly 10,000 mangroves were planted just this last weekend in Abaco in our World Mangrove day push.”

Mr McDuffie added: "Hurricane Dorian caused significant damage to wetland forests across our archipelago in 2019, and we are steadfastly engaged in restoration efforts. This monumental task calls for collective effort, and the support we have been receiving, along with the growing number of new partners, fuels our determination. The BMA remains committed to expanding our endeavours across The Bahamas —this is just the beginning!” said McDuffie of BTT.

World Mangrove Day, July 26, was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) in 2015.