By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A MAJOR mangrove restoration planting initiative will be launched on Saturday in East Grand Bahama.
The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) is hosting the event around noon at an impacted mangrove area near Maclean’s Town where students, scientists, government officials, bonefish guides, and community members will take part in restoring mangroves that were destroyed by Hurricane Dorian.
Justin Lewis, Bahamas initiative manager for (BTT), said participants will be taken a short distance by boat to the area they have selected to plant.
“This will be an all-day event where participants will be working together to plant up to 4,000 mangroves in this area. This event will be the kickoff for the community planting phase of the project,” he said.
Mr Lewis said that BTT is a non-profit science-based conservation organisation focused on protecting bonefish, tarpon, permit, and their habitats.
He noted that Hurricane Dorian not only severely affected Bahamians, but also the natural environment, especially the mangrove forest.
According to research conducted by the BTT, along with collaborators, Dorian destroyed 73 percent of Grand Bahama’s mangroves and 40 percent of the mangroves in Abaco.
Mr Lewis said mangroves play an important nursery function for a variety of commercially and recreationally important flora and fauna. They also promote biodiversity, and protect our shorelines from storm surge and erosion, he added.
BTT is collaborating with Bahamas National Trust, Friends of the Environment, and MANG as part of the Northern Bahamas Mangrove Restoration Project to help restore mangroves lost during Hurricane Dorian.
This is a multi-year project that involves the growing of mangroves in nurseries in Grand Bahama and Abaco to plant in impacted areas around the two islands. The focus of the project is to help kickstart the recovery of mangroves and to educate the community about their importance to the Bahamas and get hands-on involvement in the project.