At the end of March, Kate Barley represented CEI and attended a stakeholder workshop on Ecological Gap Analysis at the Wyndham Nassau Resort. Decision makers from government, policy makers, academics, and NGO’s were also in attendance. This workshop was a part of the larger Global Environment Fund (GEF) Project titled “Building a Sustainable Network of Marine Protected Areas for The Bahamas." The main objective of this is to expand the coverage of Marine Protected Areas in The Bahamas. An ecological gap analysis is an assessment to check if the the goals and objectives for the area are being met. An ecological gap is where a certain species or ecosystem (e.g., A reef, mangrove, forest, etc.) is not represented enough for the long term protection that it needs. This is important because The Bahamas is part of an international agreement, The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and as part of this, has agreed to protect at least 17% of the land and 10% of marine environment by 2020. This protection does not all have to be in the form of closed areas, but does need to be effectively managed, ecologically representative, and connected to other ecosystems with the overall goal of reducing the pressure on biodiversity and promoting sustainable use of resources.
This workshop was the first stakeholder workshop on gap analysis and was a chance to hear about and discuss what has been done from the consultants, and what is still needed towards moving forward to identify the gaps and achieve the 2020 target. This update will then be used to advise government on areas to protect towards meeting the CBD goal by 2020.
While in Nassau, there was also a public meeting at the Bahamas National Trust. This was a great opportunity to attend and hear a presentation on “Why Bahamian Reefs are world famous and what we have to do to keep them that way” by Dr. Peter Mumby. This was a great talk filled with fascinating videos that captured the wide ranging audience.