BNT secures Sustainable Finance Agreement for Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
By Sarah Kirkby
Oct 10, 2018 - 9:05:27 AM
New Providence, Bahamas – The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) along with Albany and its parent company, NEXUS Luxury Collection, Ltd. (NEXUS) are excited to announce the launch of a new joint venture to support the management of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (ECLSP). The collaboration will support necessary financing of the world’s first Land and Sea Park – The ECLSP, the first “no take“ marine reserve in the wider Caribbean.
BNT, a not-for-profit organization with a legislative mandate to manage the country’s National Park System, manages 32 national parks, covering more than 2 Million acres of land and sea across the archipelago. BNT is pursuing innovative public and private partnerships across the Bahamian National Park System as part of a strategy to develop sustainable finance mechanisms to support necessary National Park management and protect the irreplaceable scenic venues across the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. This approach replicates successful public-private joint ventures operating across the world that increasingly play a significant role in financing of national park management.
The ECLSP costs $750,000 to operate annually but currently runs at an annual deficit of approximately $300,000. There is much needed ongoing development of park infrastructure including new buildings and laboratory space, repairs to existing structures, additional vessels, and new energy and communications systems which will require a capital investment of several million dollars in the near future.
As a part of the agreement, NEXUS will invest the required capital to develop a food and beverage experience, water catchment system, a utility and general support building, and improved infrastructure to support and enhance the visitor experience to the park. NEXUS will also build accommodations to support future marine biology camps and retreats. In addition, NEXUS is committed to hosting an annual gala in support of BNT Park management.
The partnership intends to provide an educational component to the Warderick Wells experience, leveraging the BNT’s vast wealth of knowledge about the environment. These will be in the form of excursions and guided tours on a daily basis and also camps that will be open to school children from The Bahamas who can stay for a week at a time to learn and assist the BNT in its research and mandate to keep the ECLSP pristine.
This vital sustainable financing will provide much needed funds to ensure the efficient and effective operation of the park and safeguard the natural resources that it was created to protect. The concession will have a small and light footprint on Warderick Wells at the park headquarters located at the centre of the 176 square mile Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
BNT President Janet Johnson noted: “BNT is excited to announce this first major commercial collaboration in a National Park. Our National Parks are entrusted to the BNT to protect natural resources, and to ensure public access to these incredible places. BNT has been careful in the negotiations and will not compromise the responsibility entrusted to us to protect the environment of our national parks” the BNT President added. “Our partnership with NEXUS in no way changes the use and enjoyment of Warderick Wells and the ECLSP for both Bahamians and international visitors. The partnership will allow us to enhance the visitor experience while providing valuable financing support."
The BNT believes that this joint venture will support the broader economy in the Exuma’s through jobs and expanded services to the sustainable tourism industry.
“NEXUS feels privileged to partner with the BNT on this exciting venture at Warderick Wells in the ECLSP, the first no-take land and sea park in the world, and an area of incredible natural beauty,” said Christopher Anand, managing partner of NEXUS. “Our goal is to provide much needed capital to the BNT and this magnificent ECLSP area, while enhancing the experience for all guests that visit Warderick Wells.”
Under this agreement, the BNT will continue to have complete management of the park and have absolute authority at Warderick Wells as it relates to resource protection, park operations, safety and security of park visitors. The BNT will also retain full control of all park assets and no land will be leased, sold or made exclusively available to NEXUS under the agreement, rather the Joint Venture company will enter into a land use agreement for the related facilities to make Warderick Wells a destination for guests to visit.
“We are excited to partner with NEXUS to provide services and facilities to be enjoyed by visitors to the park, BNT members and guests of Albany. Said Eric Carey, BNT Executive Director. “The park already generates fees from moorings, anchorages, and tour operators, but has the potential to do so much more. We need become more creative about identifying ways in which both the BNT and private sector can work together to derive not only social and ecological benefits, but also economic benefits from protected areas. “
The BNT is excited to be in the forefront by setting the standard for operating a financially sustainable national park, a model that can be replicated to benefit local communities throughout the country. This is the future for protected areas.
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