The Botanical Review

, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 265–282 | Cite as

Plant Conservation Challenges in the Bahama Archipelago

  • Eric Carey
  • Lynn Gape
  • B. Naqqi Manco
  • Dion Hepburn
  • Ross L. Smith
  • Lindy Knowles
  • David Knowles
  • Mark Daniels
  • Michael A. Vincent
  • Ethan Freid
  • Brett Jestrow
  • M. Patrick Griffith
  • Michael Calonje
  • Alan W. Meerow
  • Dennis W. Stevenson
  • Javier Francisco-Ortega


The Bahamian archipelago has a rich flora with 89 endemic species. An international symposium held at Nassau in October 2012 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of the “Flora of the Bahama Archipelago” provided a forum to discuss plant conservation issues on these islands. This article builds on conclusions from this symposium and results from joint plant conservation research projects among the authors. The two main conservation challenges for these islands are: (1) environmental uncertainties derived from global warming and associated sea level changes and (2) the need for increased plant conservation awareness among the predominant urban population of the archipelago. Legal tools and biodiversity international agreements in place for The Commonwealth of the Bahamas can facilitate mechanisms for effective plant conservation. Further legal developments need to be established in The United Kingdom Overseas Territory of The Turks and Caicos Islands. There is an urgent need to redevelop the Botanic Garden of Nassau and designate it as the national botanic garden of The Bahamas. Further research related to the taxonomy, biology, conservation status, and distribution of the endemic species is urgently needed. Research initiatives pertinent to the detrimental effect and biology of invasive species are also lacking. The heterogeneous environments and uneven distribution of human populations across the archipelago are major challenges for conservation. Finally because of the political and economic status of The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos, conservation agencies from the archipelago do not have easy access to international or British/European Union funds for global conservation initiatives.


Caribbean islands Tropical islands West Indies Plant conservation United Kingdom Overseas Territories Biodiversity hotspots Donovan Correll 



We dedicate this paper to the memory of Oris Russell (1922–2002) and Michael Lightbourn (1927–2012) for their exemplary lives devoted to preserve the Bahamian environments to future generations. This paper was presented at an international symposium held at Nassau between October 30 and 31, 2012 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of the “Flora of the Bahama Archipelago” (title of symposium: Celebrating 30 Years of the Flora of the Bahamas: Conservation and Science Challenges). Our gratitude to the symposium organizers [The Bahamas National Trust and The College of The Bahamas in collaboration with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG), Florida International University (FIU), and The New York Botanical Garden] for providing a venue to present this paper. The symposium was funded by The Bahamas Environmental Fund. The Latin American and Caribbean Center of FIU and FTBG supported attendance to the symposium. This is contribution number 256 from the Tropical Biology Program of FIU. Our gratitude to the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and Montgomery Botanical Center for supporting conservation initiatives for the Critically Endangered Long Island endemic Zamia lucayana.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Carey
    • 1
  • Lynn Gape
    • 1
  • B. Naqqi Manco
    • 2
  • Dion Hepburn
    • 3
  • Ross L. Smith
    • 4
  • Lindy Knowles
    • 1
  • David Knowles
    • 5
  • Mark Daniels
    • 6
  • Michael A. Vincent
    • 7
  • Ethan Freid
    • 1
  • Brett Jestrow
    • 8
  • M. Patrick Griffith
    • 9
  • Michael Calonje
    • 9
    • 12
  • Alan W. Meerow
    • 10
  • Dennis W. Stevenson
    • 11
  • Javier Francisco-Ortega
    • 8
    • 12
  1. 1.The Bahamas National TrustNassauThe Bahamas
  2. 2.National Environmental CentreProvidencialesTurks and Caicos Islands
  3. 3.School of Chemistry & Environmental Life SciencesCollege of The BahamasNassauThe Bahamas
  4. 4.Ministry of Education, Science and TechnologyNassauThe Bahamas
  5. 5.The Bahamas National TrustAbacoThe Bahamas
  6. 6.Leon Levy Native Plant PreserveEleutheraThe Bahamas
  7. 7.Department of Biology, Miami University, OxfordOxfordUSA
  8. 8.Kushlan Tropical Science Institute, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral GablesMiamiUSA
  9. 9.Montgomery Botanical Center, Coral GablesMiamiUSA
  10. 10.USDA-ARS-SHRS, National Germplasm RepositoryMiamiUSA
  11. 11.The New York Botanical Garden, BronxNew YorkUSA
  12. 12.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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