THE Bahamas Protected Areas Fund (BPAF) will receive $1.1m from the German government to aid with post-Hurricane Dorian recovery and environmental damage assessments.
The Bahamas is normally disqualified by its relatively high per capita income from receiving overseas development assistance from Germany. However, that country’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development made an exception due to the severity of Dorian’s destruction.
The funds will be administered by the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF), which is partly capitalised by the German Development Bank-KfW. The CBF, together with eight national country trust funds, including BPAF, comprise the Caribbean Sustainable Finance Architecture, which is battling biodiversity loss and climate threats across The Caribbean.
The CBF has also pledged an additional $150,000 from its own $70m endowment fund to support post-Dorian assessments and recovery.
The BPAF said it immediately began to source funding in Dorian’s aftermath. “We met with a number of environmental groups, saw the overwhelming need, and were determined to support their assessments and recovery,” said Kelley Bostwick-Toote, Board chairman. “We are very grateful that Germany and the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund have so willingly provided this generous assistance.”
Other trust funds within the Sustainable Finance Architecture have also supported post-Dorian recovery, including the St Lucia National Conservation Fund and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Conservation Fund.
Monies received will be provided as grants. The BPAF said it is encouraging protected area managers and other relevant, legally-incorporated organisations to apply for critical funding to support their post-Dorian activities.
It added that emphasis will be placed on management effectiveness and threats to ecosystem health in affected areas throughout Abaco and Grand Bahama. This may include coral and mangrove assessments and restoration, species and habitat assessments (marine and terrestrial), ecosystem monitoring, and damaged infrastructure as well as some other enabling activities.
Karen Panton, the BPAF’s executive director, said: “Since Dorian we have accelerated our grant-making facility so funds received in its wake can be directed on the ground with transparency and speed. Once the formalities are completed, we will immediately open the call for proposals.”
The BPAF was established in 2014 by the Bahamian government through an Act of Parliament. The fund’s purpose is to “ensure sustainable financing into perpetuity” for scientific and policy research, education, conservation and management of protected areas, including national parks.
It is also mandated to support areas established for biodiversity conservation; the protection of carbon sinks; water resources; wetlands and blue holes; degraded or threatened ecosystems; and areas established for adapting to and mitigating against climate change.
The Act permits the fund to extend grants to various protected area managers including the Bahamas Natural Trust; the Forestry Unit of the Ministry of Environment; the Department of Marine Resources; Clifton Heritage Authority; other government agencies and ministries; academic and research institutions and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) whose grant requirements align with the Act, and BPAF’s strategic plan and grants priorities.