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LOCAL Bird watchers, including members of the Grand Bahama Junior Birding Club, took part in the second annual Caribbean Waterbird Census.
The census is a region-wide waterbird and wetland monitoring effort sponsored by the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds.
The goal is to learn more about the distribution, status, and abundance of waterbirds in the Caribbean, so as to improve conservation planning and management of these birds and their delicate habitats.
Each year, a region-wide count is organised. Every participant counts at the same time during the middle of winter (when birds are most stationary) to get a "snapshot" of waterbird population numbers and habita ...
RIENDS of the Environment has partnered with Dr Craig Layman and his research team from Florida International University to restore a vital tidal creek and wetland area in Abaco.
Broad Creek, located just south of Marsh Harbour near Camp Abaco has been blocked for more than 30 years after a road was constructed to build the camp.
The restoration project entailed removing a small area of the road, installing culverts to allow water flow under the traffic, and then reforming the road. The team then had to selectively remove mangroves that had encroached into the channel after road construction had taken place.
Kristin Williams, executive director Friends of the Environment, said: "Tidal cr ...
I was very disappointed to have read the comments attributed to Michael Scott in The Nassau Guardian National Review article "The great land giveaway". Putting aside the misleading title for the story, the quotes attributed to Scott seek to suggest that the land, the subject of the Progressive Liberal Party's (PLP) negotiated heads of agreement, was a "gift" to foreigners. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the terms of the deal cannot be objectively characterized as "the greatest land giveaway".
I was mostly disgusted and shocked at Scott's rather shallow characterization of the deal as capable of treating the 350 natives of Mayaguana much like Native Americans being relegated to a reservation. This was utterly silly language which was also unfortunate because it completely misrepresented the intention of the original deal and it perhaps demonstrates the lack of vision and the prospect Mayaguana can have in an economically viable Bahamas by the present leadership of the Hotel Corporation.
The facts of the original agreement
It is untrue and smacks of rather crude political mischief making that the Free National Movement (FNM) will continue to utter a clear falsity that the PLP government conveyed 9,999 acres of Crown land to a foreign entity known as the I-Group in March 2006 in connection with a development at Mayaguana. It is being purported that the present administration has now signed a revised heads of agreement with the I-Group, which has recovered 5,825 acres of the land.
It is so unfortunate that this deliberate untruth is calculated to prey upon the emotive subject of the disposition of Crown land to foreigners for partisan political advantage during this 'election season'.
The truth is that the PLP government led by Perry Christie was unalterably opposed to the sale of this large acreage of Crown land in Mayaguana to the I-Group or any other group of foreigners for large scale development. As a result and after two years of meticulous negotiations, the government entered into a heads of agreement with Mayaguana Island Developers Limited (MID), a joint venture entity owned 50/50 by the government through the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas (HCB) and the I-Group of Boston headed by Stephen Roy, a wealthy and prominent businessman. The land was to be conveyed to the joint venture company only in stages after certain clear milestones of development were reached. There was no agreement for the wholesale purchase or acquisition of 9,999 acres by the I-Group as is being stated.
The specific purpose of both the heads of agreement and the joint venture agreement, as stated therein, was to encourage and facilitate economic growth and development on Mayaguana so as to attract both Bahamians and non-Bahamians as both investors and residents, leaving no doubt that the land in the development area was to be occupied and used by both Bahamians and non-Bahamians, in that order.
The scale of the anchor project which was envisaged at full build out to total more than an estimated $1.7 billion, obligated the joint venture company to prepare and implement, subject to government's approval, a comprehensive plan for the orderly development on the Island of Mayaguana of a viable community, residential, mixed-use resort, commercial, industrial, social and educational developments, associated utilities, airport, marinas, harbor and related infrastructure and nature parks, which would provide a range of new economic opportunities. It was envisaged that in addition to Mayaguana, the development would also positively and significantly impact the economy of the southeastern Bahamas including Inagua, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay and Ragged Island, indeed all of The Bahamas in general.
Under the terms of the original heads of agreement and joint venture agreement, the following key financial considerations applied:
? The Hotel Corporation and I-Group each owned 50 percent of the shares in the capital of Mayaguana Island Developers Limited.
? In consideration of the transfer of the Crown land to MID and the grant of the concessions to MID as contained in the heads of agreement, the I-Group agreed to contribute the entire capital for the initial project in an amount of not less than $14 million, inclusive of $2 million paid by the I-Group to the government at the signing of the heads of agreement and joint venture agreement.
? In addition, MID was to establish the Mayaguana Community Fund, consisting of not less than $1,250,000 by the end of the fifth year, to be augmented annually by 2.5 percent of the revenues of MID thereafter.
? HCB would receive from MID a fee equal to 10 percent of the gross sales price from the sale of residential lots, and five percent of the gross sales price received for the sale of commercial lots. Similarly, under the management agreement between MID and Mayaguana Management Co. Ltd. (MMC) the same amounts were to be paid to MMC.
? HCB and the I-Group would share 50/50 in the profits of MID.
? I-Group and HCB would work cooperatively to attract other investors and additional capital to implement the overall development plans for Mayaguana.
? MID working in cooperation with the government would arrange financial assistance to encourage Bahamians to acquire homes and settle in Mayaguana.
Land use plan
The I-Group met the cost of preparation of a comprehensive regional land use plan for the island of Mayaguana, which was approved by government and became the property of MID. The regional land use plan made provisions for and shows the following:
a. Permanent wetlands that should be excluded from any activity.
b. Seasonal marshlands that should also not be disturbed
c. Conservation areas that should also not be disturbed, but may be considered for some limited common/public use under stringent conditions.
d. Nature preserves that should be properly managed
e. Agricultural lands
f. Ranch lands
g. Undeveloped lands, including land for expansion of existing settlements
h. Public beaches
i. Areas for development by MID, including golf courses
j. Areas that could be developed by other interested parties
k. Commercial activity areas
l. Light industrial activity area around the airport, and
m. Medical/academic campus
What the project was to be
The initial project which was to be completed within two years from the initial project commencement date was well underway when the PLP left office in May 2007. In fact at that point, the I-Group's expenditure had almost doubled the $14 million estimated for its cost. The initial project included inter alia the following:
? Rehabilitation of 7,000 feet of the existing 11,000-foot runway capable of accommodating international service of Boeing 737 aircraft
? Construction of an adequate new terminal building, security and ancillary facilities to international standards as approved by the Department of Civil Aviation and other authorities
? Construction of a 19-unit boutique resort at North Beach, and layout of a 100-lot single family residential subdivision
? Construction of the Mayaguana Harbour Development at Pirate's Well Creek comprising a basin large enough to accommodate up to 10 recreational sized boat slips, a dredged channel, layout of a 50-lot residential subdivision, and a three-unit villa
? Layout of North Beach East Subdivision consisting of 100 lots and construction of a three-unit villa
? Provision of the necessary public utilities to support the foregoing development
? Community projects consisting of improvements to the Mayaguana Health Clinic, construction of science laboratory at Abraham's Bay School, and a lunch, recreation room and outdoor recreational facilities at Pirate's Well School, layout and commissioning of other community recreational facilities, construction of 15 miles of roads within the development area and provision of potable water to local communities at rates to be agreed with Water and Sewerage Corporation
? Layout of an industrial zone in the vicinity of the airport
? Establishment of repair, technical training and materials processing and recovery facilities in the industrial zone
? Preparation of plans and layout for one golf course and commissioning of a putting green and driving range
? Preparation and layout of an equestrian-themed housing subdivision
? Rehabilitation of Nature Centre & Picnic Area at North Beach close to Curtis Creek
? Reserving an area of not less than 20 acres for a public beach in Curtis Creek area - this beach is to be in addition to traditional access enjoyed by Bahamians on all beaches in Mayaguana
? Obtaining a letter of intent from a third party operator for development of 225-room resort in Mayaguana
? Progress on developing Mayaguana as a port of call for cruise lines
? Establishment of nature preserves at Curtis Creek, Blackwood Point, Booby Cay, Long Cay and Pirate's Well Creek - the preserves shall come under the management of a foundation
What the FNM did
After the FNM came to power in May 2007, it set out to frustrate and put road blocks in the way of the Mayaguana project by stopping certain vital duty-free concessions, which stalled the project in which the I-Group had already invested over $25 million. By early 2008 the recession was setting in. As a consequence the frustrated chairman of the I-Group, Stephen Roy, wrote to the prime minister invoking the provisions of the force majeure/unforseen events and delays clause to slow down the project and revise the business plan because of "the adverse change in economic conditions in financial markets in the United States".
Instead of simply agreeing to revise the business plan and extending the concessions, the Ingraham administration, because it did not wish to honor the terms of the heads of agreement which they found in place, seized the opportunity over three long years to exact a revised agreement out of the I-Group under the guise of getting back some 5,825 acres of Crown land. This revised agreement is less in the public interest in terms of the reduced scope of the project and the outright grant of some 4,000 acres of crown land to a foreign owned company.
An important safeguard in ensuring that the provisions of the heads of agreement, joint venture agreement and management agreement as approved by the PLP administration are fully implemented, is the provision for the government through the Hotel Corporation to appoint directors to the boards of both the joint venture company (MID) and the Mayaguana Management Company (MMC).
Under the terms of the revised heads of agreement, the FNM is allowing this safeguard to fall away. Also as a result of the cancellation of the joint venture and management agreements by the FNM a foreign owned company will now be entitled to the grant of some 4,000 acres of Crown land on Mayaguana, something the PLP would not have done. Regrettably, the scale of the project and its economic impact have been considerably reduced under the terms of the revised heads of agreement.
For the record it should be pointed out that at all material times during the negotiations with the I-Group as well as in the heads of agreement and joint venture agreement, the PLP administration ensured that sufficient Crown land remained available for the expansion of existing communities together with the creation of new communities on the island of Mayaguana. The project itself, the terms of the heads of agreement and joint venture agreement were fully discussed with and agreed upon in town meetings with the people of Mayaguana and with descendants.
The suggestion that the deal would have "people herding together in the interior" is untrue and a rather unfortunate description of the intentions of the joint venture. It is hoped that these facts dispel the misrepresentations printed in the article and that the Bahamian people now have the full benefit of the salient facts surrounding the joint venture development in Mayaguana. It is further hoped that the Bahamian people and all the residents of Mayaguana know that it is the PLP that has always championed their cause and put them first.
o George Smith is a former PLP MP for Exuma, Cabinet minister and chairman of the Hotel Corporation of The Bahamas.
Since the inception of the National Parks Ordinance of 1975 (and its subsequent amendments in 1992), the salinas of Grand Turk have been overlooked as
part of the Protected Area System despite their size comprising the
largest total area of salt ponds in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI)
covering approximately 200 hectares (494 acres), along with the
historical role they played when salt production was at its peak.
many years, efforts have been ongoing to conserve and protect these
salinas which are also ecologically important as wetlands serving many
functions including but not limited to flood control, providing vital
habitats for many organisms and also a source of recreation and income...
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Thirteen educators and community leaders from Nassau, Andros, Great Exuma and Grand Bahama participated in the Bahamas National Trust Environmental Stewardship Programme workshop July 16 - 20. The workshop provided training for the leaders in the implementation of the BNT's Navigator's Certification Programme which is the third level of Discovery Club which targets high school and college students between the ages of 13 -25.
The workshop focused on the Birding Certification course for the Navigators Programme. Participants were introduced to Bird Identification through a series of PowerPoint presentations that introduced the birds by habitat. The presentations were supported by field trips to the Pine Forest, Wetland and Coppice Forest ecosystems.
The participants will be coordinating the BNT's Environmental Stewardship Programme in their Schools or Community. The workshop sought not only to provide natural history information but also included special presentations on Team Building, Leadership Development, and Fostering Environmental Stewardship. Navigation skills were also taught with the group receiving instruction in the practical skills of how to use a compass and a GPS.
While the $67 million Airport Gateway Project will encroach on environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands and cut into hillsides, a feasibility study on the project indicates that it will not have a huge impact on the affected grounds.
The study, which was completed by China Construction America Incorporated, shows that there are several potential impacts including change in the drainage pattern; flooding; traffic; loss of natural features, habitats and species by construction and operation; pollution of potable, coastal, surface and ground water and air pollution, among others.
“The design and construction of the project shall not for the most part change the ecological environment along ...
Saturday 14th February 2009 11:00 AM
World Wetlands Day is on the 2nd of Feb, the BNT will be celebrating this occasion in Grand Bahama at the Lucayan National Park with a family fun-day and to also celebrate the opening of the new bridge in the park. Contact the Bahamas National Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
A cave containing artifacts stretching back hundreds of years will be incorporated into Baha Mar's new 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course.
The historic site, discovered years ago when the $2.6 billion development performed a survey of the land, rests near Lake Cunningham on the resort property. After some extensive investigations, the items in the cave have been catalogued and date back to the pre-Columbus era.
According to Laura Pinder, the environmental monitor for Baha Mar, the site will be made a "point of interest" on the golf course.
"It will be part of the golf course experience," she explained. "We'll develop interpretative materials and signage. As you walk the trail of the golf course, you'll see the signs. They'll be a buffer between the cave and the course. But it will explain the history of the cave, and what is interesting about it and how it relates to the culture of The Bahamas."
The attraction is sure to make the Jack Nicklaus course one of the more unusual golf experiences in the world.
The cave is reportedly home to fragments of tools, pottery and bone.
"We'll preserve it and ensure it's not ruined," she said. "And it becomes a feature of the golf course."
Pinder insisted, however, that guests will not be permitted inside the cave. She noted it is currently home to a colony of fruit bats, further reinforcing the importance of working around the historically significant site.
The environmental officer for Baha Mar told Guardian Business a more in-depth survey was done recently, and a team was enlisted to make note of the treasures that lie within.
Maintaining the environment has been a particular concern for the Cable Beach project since the beginning, according to executives.
Back in September of last year, Gary Larson, the director of environmental affairs, announced that Baha Mar would contribute $2 million to the creation of a wildlife reserve.
The resort back outs onto hundreds of acres of untouched wilderness and wetlands.
"When I came on board here, I was very pleased to see the company's attitude towards the environment," Larson said, who served as executive director of the Bahamas National Trust for 20 years. "It's refreshing to see them not just saying so, but doing so. Often you have to beat people over the head with environment issues. But the philosophy comes from the head."
Robert Sands, the senior vice president of administrative and external affairs, told Guardian Business that the golf course actually had to be redrawn to incorporate the reserve.
Of the 1,000 acres included under the Baha Mar banner, approximately half will be considered part of this protective ecosystem.
The vision is to create opportunities for bird watching, walking jogging and enjoying the indigenous species.
Baha Mar has considered incorporating eco-tourism into its menu of offerings once the resort is up and running at the end of 2014.
A leading environmental lawyer and consultant for Save The Bays has called for the urgent passage of an environmental protection act, saying it will not only protect a fragile and often threatened environment but could lead to new economic prosperity by unleashing a host of profitable enterprises.
Romauld Ferreira, popular TV show host and one of the Caribbean's top environmental lawyers, said legislation and regulations that protect the environment "provide governments with the ability to develop industry in a manner which is sustainable and respects the environment".
Ferreira was addressing the National Environmental Conclave, a by-invitation-only, three day workshop organized by the Ministry of the Environment in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, one of nearly 15 Save The Bays community partners.
"Our environmental legislative framework ought to consist of primary legislation attended to by secondary legislation establishing regulatory standards for all activities which impact the environment and giving the government the flexibility to respond in a timely manner," Ferreira told participants. Without such a framework, unregulated development will continue to plague the country, with developers plowing ahead, sometimes without permits and oversight, without the public having an opportunity to comment on something that will change their very lifestyle, without retribution for felling protected trees or slashing mangroves and scouring wetlands.
Today, said Ferreira who has worked with leading international firms as an environmental attorney and consultant on several projects financed by the IDB and other international entities throughout the region, eight separate pieces of legislation are intended to deal with environmental matters. But without stiff regulations or dedicated resources, they are often ignored and compliance is far from ideal.
Passing the overriding umbrella BEPA with adequate regulations is the link in the chain that will pull the necklace together and better secure the beauty of the chain of islands, he said.
Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett opened the conclave, expressing his appreciation for the majesty of The Bahamas, but stopping short of calling for overriding legislation to protect it.
"I have said before that the environment of our nation is its greatest blessing, so much so that we have created a world class tourism industry based on our sun, sand, and seas," said Dorsett.
"In addition to these, we are also blessed with great landscapes, beautiful marine life, blue holes, coral reefs, indigenous trees and flowering plants and much more."
That diversity, he said, sustains life and livelihoods.
"Save The Bays is grateful to The Nature Conservancy and the Ministry of the Environment for their work in arranging the conclave," said Joseph Darville, Education Officer and Clifton Waterkeeper. "When we heard how much appreciation the minister said he has for those who try to protect the beauty and diversity of the Bahamian environment and that the environment 'should be protected zealously for and by the Bahamian people' we knew the tide had begun to change. Let us now have the courage to take the next step and pass the laws to make that wish for environmental protection a reality."