The Natural Wonders of the West side of
The west side of Andros Island is a relatively untouched and remarkably astounding area that is both ecologically and economically important to Andros and the greater Bahamas. The west side for example plays a vital role in sustaining the nation’s local and commercial fisheries market. Its intact, healthy mangroves (see figure 1: Red Mangroves along tidal creek) provide breeding and nursery areas for commercially important marine species (e.g., snapper, spiny lobster, tarpon, and bonefish) which replenish marine stocks throughout The Bahamas. The west side’s tidal creeks and flats also support thriving bonefish populations which contribute significantly to the island’s bonefishing industry.
In 2006, the Kerzner Marine Foundation provided funding for The Nature Conservancy and its partners The Bahamas National Trust, The Department of Marine Resources, Andros Conservancy and Trust (Ancat), and Nature’s Hope for South Andros to build a solid, science-based case for the expansion of the existing Andros West Side National Park so that wildlife and crucial nursery habitats can be protected from future threats.
This expanded protected area is foreseen to provide lasting protection once effectively managed. Information collected from researchers, local experts and stakeholders was used to make the case to the Bahamas Government validating the need and stating the benefits of expanding the existing Park. In October 2009, the Government officially agreed that the Andros West Side National Park boundaries should be expanded to sustain biodiversity and Bahamian livelihoods. Nonetheless there is still much work to be done. The project team is in the process of solidifying the boundaries based on researchers and local experts input; engaging and involving additional community members in the project’s process and; developing an effective management plan that will actively involve stakeholders and allow sustainable use of the area. The project team will work with communities throughout Andros, and government officials at the local and national levels to increase awareness on the importance of protecting these resources to sustain human livelihoods and hopefully gain additional support of this, and future natural resource management efforts.
For more information, contact Felicity M. Burrows, Project Manager, The Nature Conservancy Northern Caribbean Program, Nassau Bahamas. Tel: 242-326-0024 or Email: email@example.com.
Photograph of mangroves © Felicity M. Burrows
Photograph of Felicity with turtle © Vanessa Haley
Photographs of angler, bonefish release and bonefish
© Carlton Ward Photography