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Man’s activities on earth have seen destruction of environment in several ways. For example, the approval for construction of a golf course in Bahamas saw the destruction of aquatic environment to a large scale. This approval occurred without proper consultation on the dangers it will pose to the Maine ecosystem.
The government of Bahamas mandated Discover Land Company from California to erect a 400-homesite and 75-villa style rental rooms for tourism resort purposes. Additionally, the company was to develop a 180-slip yachting marina, and an 18-hole championship golf course leading to total destruction of aquatic environment. (Klein, 1999, p. 1, 7).
Among the negative effects from this developments, would be thrice increase in population along the already congested six-mile island. On the other hand, the new yachting marina will consume a lot of space to become the biggest in Bahamas.
In a more terrifying note, and perhaps a threat to Maine ecosystem, the government of Bahamas approved this development to be located close to the shoreline, which consisted of a mangrove system and healthy coral reefs.
Although the Discover Land Company had to use modern infrastructure equipments to cater for this frail ecological system, the destruction outweighed the ecological importance of the ecosystem. (Save Guana Cay Reef, 2009, Para. 1).
Vision of Baker’s Bay Club Development
However, as an act of defense, the Discover Land Company, the developer, outlined various conservation measures aimed at protecting the fragile ecosystem. For example, these developers allocated a piece of land for conserving natural habitats. Additionally, they provided a detailed plan for solid waste processing within the ecosystem.
They also outlined a convincing plan about communal access areas including public beaches and meeting places. Furthermore, the Company entailed a plan to preserve 92 acres of land, which will encompass mangrove ecosystem and another 60-acre land to act as a coastal buffer zone.
In order to avoid pollution into water-catchment areas, the golf course will have wastewater gardens and sewage treatment facilities. Imaginatively, the classy housing plan gave beautiful scenery on how houses will form a beautiful landscape within a lawn, which convinced the government of Bahamas. (Sullivan-Sealey, Cushion, Semon, & Constantine, 2005, pp. 1-2).
On the other hand, the government aimed creating plant diversity zone and attracts wildlife for tourism purposes. Critically, the developer’s plans composed both long-term and short-term environmental collisions considering the fact that, the development was bound to take place on a huge land scale conversion. The truth of the matter is that, this was a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) project and not a government initiated development.
Therefore, Bahamas citizens were bound to suffer most as developers had business mind, which has nothing to do with environmental protection. In particular, there were four areas of concern. Firstly, there was a high probability that, this project will cause chronic eutrophication to communities living near the marine shore. Secondly, there was substantive evidence that, the wetlands will cease to exist in entirety.
Thirdly, contrary to the existing natural biological diversity that acted as home to wildlife, the development was to discourage wildlife and lead to ecological imbalance. Lastly, the development will see further discouragement of marine species cohabiting within the ecosystem. (Sullivan-Sealey, Cushion, Semon, & Constantine, 2005, p.3).
Environmental Status of Guana Cay Reef
Previous developments at the Guana Cay Reef had already caused some serious environmental impacts through the construction of cruise ship resort. This led to destruction of the marine ecosystem of the coral reef even without realization. For example, any further development will increase dumping; alien plants take place of native vegetation, and finally, erosion take place.
Clearly, there has been no proper stewardship of the site so important to the surrounding species and at the same time, acting as home to other species. Due to warring court cases, the BBC abandoned Baker’s Bay Club development comprising of hazardous materials and dangerous infrastructure, which require urgent attention and mitigation.
As a matter of urgency, the newly introduced alien plants in the coral reef and new insects that continue to destroy natural fauna and flora of the marine ecosystem. This is the main reason why, the government of Bahamas need to move in swiftly and reclaim the place. (Dubinsky & Stambler, 1996, pp. 511-526).
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Save Guana Cay Reef Association (SGCR)
For along period now, the island has lacked stewardship after the BBC abandoned further development courtesy of a series of court cases, both in Bahamas and Britain. To induce some leadership into the facility, a faction of Guan Cay residents decided to join hands and address this environmental situation.
The group, Save Guan Cay Reef Association (SGCR), sought to handle economic, social and environmental issues that engulfed the whole process of Baker’s Bay club development. The development had led to serious destruction of this marine ecosystem leaving many to ask questions without answers. Nobody seems to understand the intention of both the developer and the Bahamas government. The problem has escalated into a fight between SGCR and the Bahamas government, which mandated the development of the marine ecosystem to BBC.
For six years now, the issue has overridden Bahamas and British courts, while the media continue to air its latest development. At one point, the SGCR has tried to convince courts that, the government did not consult properly and that, the developer might have lied in order to get the contract. Nevertheless, the case ended in November 2009 when the chosen hearing authority-Privy Council, decided to rule contrary to SGCR demands. (Save Guana Cay Reef, 2009, Para. 2-4).
Coincidentally, the partnership between the University of Miami and Baker’s Bay Club on environmental conservation of the Marine ecosystem came to a standstill in 2009. Nevertheless, marine biologists from the University of Miami headed by Dr. Kathleen Sullian-Sealey provided a case study on the impacts of such developments to Maine ecosystem.
Impact of Baker’s Bay Club Development on the Ecosystem
The government of Bahamas gave the mandate to develop Maine ecosystem on grounds of tourism. However, as it came out, the Bahamas government failed to consider serious impacts of such development to the ecosystem.
According to scientists attending Abaco Science Alliance conference, the Bahamas government erred in mandating the development of Baker’s Bay club with no proper sustainable tourism measures. Launched in 2004, the Bahamas government mandated a developer to construct this project on private land near Guana Cay in the north of Bahamas.
However, the project is yet to reach completion due to the recent global economic meltdown. Even so, some business opportunities opened last year (slip marina and adjacent village). The golf course is halfway complete with sewer and waste treatment facilities installed. (Larry, 2010, Para. 1-5).
Environmental conservation was the primary concern of the residents living nearby. Therefore, the developer chose University of Miami to spearhead environmental conservation programs in order to help in mitigating already destroyed places, develop modalities of protecting the ecosystem and oversee the whole development process.
The destruction of this ecosystem began in 2004 when the developer detached invasive species, put up infrastructure projects, brought native vegetation and coastal dunes that totaled to one million dollars and further ten million dollars for infrastructure and mitigation. The project entailed full professionals to manage the ecosystem professionally.
This is why, the University of Miami landed the project aimed at drawing marine scientists into the site. In 2004, Dr. Kathleen became the principal environmental overseer at Baker’s Bay Club in Bahamas. Her main role was to oversee a balanced ecological ecosystem, which gave a glimpse of sustainable development. Previously, she had noted how developers destroy an ecosystem knowingly or unknowingly. (Larry, 2010, Para. 6-13).
However, for Baker’s Bay Club, there was initial ecological assessment before the real development took place. A team of scientist from Florida did inventory experiments, brought in native plants for landscaping, and took the natural plants to the island. Before and after the construction of marina, scientist took water samples to test whether it met Blue Flag Environmental standards (a body that is responsible for safety measures related to water and environment).
To dismay, the developers had removed large amounts of debris and garbage from water to foster ship transport. Additionally, the developers destroyed casuarina tree species and killed wild cats cohabiting at the shoreline. The developers had caused more harm than good because of ignorance. (Larry, 2010, Para. 15-20).
Lack of environmental expertise in Bahamas saw the destruction of ecosystem in the name of constructing tourist resort Baker’s Bay club, which was not friendly to the surrounding inhabitants. Nevertheless, the development of Baker’s Bay club without proper environmental monitoring program saw large-scale destruction of Maine ecosystem. Baker’s Bay club development disseminates the channels to follow before doing any development especially in aquatic areas.
We can create sustainable tourism through long-term planning, stabilization of shorelines, protecting biodiversity and producing clean energy in order to avoid pollution. These and many more procedural mechanisms act as long-term viabilities to anybody who wishes to carry our tourism projects. Moreover, mutual relationship with developers, environmentally minded policy makers and the general understanding of environment are fundamental to a sustainable environment.
Dubinsky, Z. & Stambler, N. (1996). Marine pollution and coral reefs. Global Change Biology, 2(1), 511-526.
Klein, R. (1999). Protecting the Aquatic Environment from the Effects of Golf Courses. Web.
Larry, S. (2010). The First Case Study in Sustainable Tourism. Web.
Save Guana Cay Reef. (2009). Say NO to the Development on the North End of Guan Bay, Abaco, Bahamas! Web.
Sullivan-Sealey, K., Cushion, N., Semon, K. & Constantine, S. (2005).
Environmental Management Program for Baker’s Bay Club. Great Guana Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. University of Miami. Web.