Monday, February 10, 2020

Friends of the Environment January E-News

Preserving the environment of Abaco, The Bahamas through education, conservation and research facilitation. 
Friends of the Environment E-Newsletter
Established in 1988
January 2020
Save the Date

February 29th
Palm Beach Fundraiser

March 21st
Hope Town Reef Ball

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As we move into 2020 and continue to recover and restore our homes and beautiful islands it's also important to consider the environmental impact of the storm. Conservation is vital to the recovery of our local economies and we have embraced opportunities to help where we can. Marine debris removal will be a focus in the coming months. Families are returning to Abaco, school is "happening" and as we reach out to the amazingly resilient teachers we find they are grateful for the support of FRIENDS. We will do all that we can to help. At the same time we are starting the preliminary work on planning the rebuild of FRIENDS' Education Center. There is a lot going on! We are hopeful and excited as we look to the future. We so appreciate you for being a part of these recovery efforts; it's because of your generous support that we can do our part. 
We are grateful!
Thank You and Happy New Year,
Cha Boyce
Executive Director

Marine Debris Removal Project

Mermaid Reef Pilot Project
Our marine debris removal project began with the help of partners from Eco Blue Projects to clean up one of our favourite reefs: Mermaid Reef. Frequently used for FRIENDS' environmental education programs - as well as a popular spot for snorkel tours - this reef holds a special value to us. Volunteer divers brought debris to the shoreline from the reef, including wood, ladders, metal, shingles and so much more.  
For this project, we had the opportunity to include some students who cleaned up around the rocky shoreline as divers brought the debris in from the reef, and even helped pull up some of the heavy items! They were also reminded of some cool facts about coral reefs, and why they are important to us in The Bahamas - especially now.

Special thanks especially to Eco Blue Projects and Dive Guana - as well as SeaLegacyPerry Institute for Marine Science, BEP Foundation, Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation, James Boyce, Sydney Dillon, Nadine Been of Long Bay School and Max Bethel-Jones of Hope Town for being part of this project.

Marine Debris Assessment
We will be investigating priority areas for debris cleanup in each community. 
Kenyon Centre Update 

The Kenyon Centre is fully occupied through the end of June, after which we will continue repairs. Please contact us if you are interested in booking rooms from July 2020 onwards.
Palm Beach Fundraiser February 29th

We are excited for the opportunity to get together with friends of FRIENDS in Palm Beach to share our progress and discuss plans moving forward. We hope you will consider joining us! Click here for more info about the event and to reserve tickets.
Reef Ball at Abaco Inn
Celebrating Bringing it Home 
March 21st

 We are looking forward to celebrating the resilience of Abaco's environment and sharing our plans for the future of Friends of the Environment. Come enjoy a wonderful dinner put on by chef Davy at Abaco Inn, and dance away to the tunes of Simplicity! 
Dunes Play a Critical Role in Coastal Management
by Michael Jenkins, PhD, PE
Coastal dunes play a vital role in the health of the beach and coastal system. Not only do they provide critical habitat to a range of species (many of them endemic to The Bahamas and endangered), but they are also the primary line of defense against coastal waves and storm surge. In reviewing impacts from Dorian on Elbow Cay, it is apparent that areas with a healthy dune fared much better than areas where the dune is compromised. In areas where the dune is low, storm surge overtopped the dune contributing to inland flooding and in areas where there is insufficient setback from the dune structures are now vulnerable.  Dorian resulted in a loss (erosion) of the dune face. In some locations this loss was on the order of 10 to twenty feet. However, in general, where present, dunes absorbed the impacts from the waves and surge preventing flooding of the upland properties.  Natural recovery of the dune will occur, but this is a long term process that occurs over many years from the trapping of windblown sand by dune vegetation.

Where possible maintaining a healthy dune system provides both environmental and storm protection benefits. Maintaining the dune with native vegetation helps to stabilize and build up the dune by trapping wind blown sand. Replanting of the dune after storms with native vegetation and if need be adding additional sand is an easy and cost effective way to help the system recover.  Non-native vegetation (e.g. grass) should be restricted to behind the dune, as dune specific vegetation (e.g. sea oats & railroad vine) is particularly adapted to stabilizing and growing the dune. Dune overwalks should extend over the dune and not cut into the dune as this tends to destabilize the dune. Where possible, seaweed that is deposited on the beach should be left in place as this helps to stabilize the beach, and provides a seed base for natural dune re-vegetation.

 In areas where upland structures are vulnerable, additional coastal armoring may be required, though maintaining adequate setbacks for new construction and maintaining a natural dune buffer are the preferred approach to coastal management.

**Any works involving changes to the dune, excavation, or building on/near the dune must be permitted by the government.

beach with seaweed
Left: Eroded beach on North End, Elbow Cay after Dorian. Above: Beaches need seaweed deposits to be healthy.
About Mangroves

Our mangroves are looking pretty bare in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. Please don't consider them dead yet! It may take a number of months for new growth to show up. In the mean time we ask that everyone please remember that these trees are vital to the recovery of our marine environment and are an important part of protecting the land from future storms.

bare mangroves after Hurricane Dorian

Pictured: Red Mangroves post-Dorian
Pictured: Red Mangroves pre-Dorian. 

Mangroves are an essential part of our marine and terrestrial ecosystems. They serve as nursery grounds for juvenile fish and invertebrates, help protect the land from ocean surge, and support Bahamian livelihoods through fishing and tourism. Their roots provide juvenile marine life protection from predators before they're able to mature and relocate to seagrass beds and coral reefs. Mangroves play a part in ensuring that we have healthy, balanced ecosystem in our oceans. Let's do our part to protect our mangroves as they recover.

Pictured: A lemon shark pup and a blue crab find refuge in the roots of mangrove wetlands. Taken in Eleuthera, Bahamas by Shane Gross. 

Friends of the Environment, PO Box AB 20755, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas