Bahamas National Trust expresses concern over proposed mining project on North Andros

In my previous post, I wrote about the fragility of our Caribbean coastlines and the wildlife that clings to an increasingly precarious existence there – including migratory shorebirds.

Here is a classic example of the threats faced: a proposed limestone quarrying and housing development on the island of Andros in the Bahamas. Here is the PR video from the Bahamas Materials Company, which is very enthusiastic about the many benefits of the North Andros Mining and Reclamation Project. It will provide “hundreds of meaningful jobs” according to the company (which does not seem to have a proper website). The company promises to use “best mining practices” and to be environmentally friendly and community-oriented. There will be some dredging of the sea also.

In an unusual move, the Bahamas National Trust, which manages the country’s national parks (including terrestrial and marine areas), has issued a preliminary statement on the matter, making it clear that it does not support “extractive projects such as mining.” The BNT manages four national parks in North Andros, one of which includes the world’s third largest barrier reef and lagoon system. Another encompasses a large number of “blue holes”; yet another is an important breeding ground for land crabs (which Bahamians are very fond of eating, so they have to be replenished!)

Audubon’s Matt Jeffery treks across the flats after conducting a shorebird survey at Joulter Cays National park on Andros, the Bahamas. (Photo: Walker Golder/Audubon) READ MORE HERE: https://www.audubon.org/magazine/november-december-2015/piping-plovers-get-protected-park

In its statement, the BNT also refers to the Joulter Cays National Park, which would be close to the proposed mining area. According to the Audubon Society, this is a “critical wintering area for 13 shorebird species, including the endangered Piping Plover.” It is designated as a globally significant Important Bird and Biodiversity Area by BirdLife International.

The migratory Piping Plover is extremely sensitive to disturbance by humans (it nests on the ground). Here is a mother and chick. (Photo: Wildlife Preservation Canada, which is especially concerned with endangered species. See their website here.

Once again, our fragile shorebird species are threatened.

Here is BNT’s Statement:

August 18th, 2022 – Nassau, Bahamas

The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) wishes to express its preliminary views on a proposed North Andros mining project by The Bahamas Materials Company.

The Bahamas Materials Company has made presentations to the BNT’s Executive Committee (ExCo) on its project’s planned activity and area of impact. While the BNT is not automatically an anti-development organization, we do not support nor endorse large-scale industrial extractive projects such as mining.

The BNT understands the importance of both foreign direct and Bahamian capital investment in projects intended to build and sustain the Bahamian economy. At the same time, we all agree that projects need to be developed responsibly across the Bahamas but particularly in proximity to National Parks and Marine Protected Areas. We will continue to be guided by this balance and scientific research as priorities for our organization.

The BNT is aware of the general ecological sensitivity of North Andros. The Joulter Cays National Park, while outside the area of impact for the proposed project, is the closest protected area to the proposed project site. Our review of the Environmental Impact Assessment, once completed, would pay particular attention to any activities that may even residually impact this pristine national park.

The BNT has several government representatives on its Council, some from agencies that review and regulate such projects. As such, we will respect and await the due process and offer comment/objection officially to the government at the appropriate time. As far as we are aware, The Bahamas Materials Company’s project has not been given formal consideration by the government. As per the Bahamas Investment Authority and government environmental regulations, if the company advances to that stage, it will at that time be required to produce an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) against Terms of Reference issued by the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection (DEPP). Upon completion of the EIA and the required public review process, the BNT Scientific Team will review and offer professional commentary.

Finally, the BNT notes commentary on social media regarding a board member having business ties to the proposed project. We acknowledge that there is a member of The BNT Council affiliated with the proposed project; and we state for the public record that in accordance with BNT’s good governance policies and procedures, that member of the Council has formally declared their interest in the project to the BNT Council President. Accordingly, the individual has recused themself from all BNT discussions regarding the proposed project.

To learn more about the role the BNT plays to manage terrestrial and marine national parks, protect species that inhabit them, and inform environmental policy, please visit its website: www.bnt.bs and follow/subscribe to various social media channels: FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube.

###

Media Contact: Leah Carr | lcarr@bnt.bs | (242) 429-7902

About the BNT:

The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) was created by an Act of Parliament in 1959 to build and manage the national park system of The Bahamas. Possibly the only non-governmental organization in the world charged with such a responsibility, the BNT works daily to conserve and protect the natural resources of The Bahamas through stewardship and education for present and future generations. There are currently 32 National Parks managed by the BNT with more than 2 million acres of marine and terrestrial areas protected.

Willets, Black-bellied Plovers, and a Marbled Godwit: beautiful shorebirds at Joulter Cays National Park. (Photo: Lindsay Addison/Audubon)


One thought on “Bahamas National Trust expresses concern over proposed mining project on North Andros

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.