Natural Resources
The Free National Movement recognises and appreciates that conservation and enhancement of the environment are critically important to the sustainability of the economy of The Bahamas and, hence, to the economic wellbeing of future generations. For this reason the Free National Movement has incorporated the protection and enhancement of the environment into the national planning process.
Aware that a national commitment to protect the environment is required from all sectors of society, the Free National Movement has, during its first term in office, begun the process of community education on the environment by:
a) establishing The Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (BEST), made up of representatives of both the public and private sectors to serve as the national focal point for national and international environmental matters. BEST is charged to develop a National Conservation and Sustainable Development Strategy, and is also responsible to coordinate all matters relating to The Bahamasí participation in inter national conventions, treaties, protocols and agreements concerning the environment;

b) appointing an Ambassador for the Environment to represent The Bahamas nationally and internationally to ensure that the value of The Bahamas environment is recognised and taken into account in global environmental deliberations;

c) initiating policies requiring environmental impact studies, review and evaluation by BEST, as a pre-requisite for all international development proposals;

d) extending the National Park System by setting aside over 20,000 acres of Bahamian pine-land in Abaco, a natural habitat of the Bahama Parrot, as a National Park;

e) enacting legislation which ended the environmentally devastating practice of long-line fishing;

f) acquiring new waste collection and disposal equipment and new heavy duty equipment required for the maintenance of road verges, public parks and other green areas, to facilitate the systematic environmental clean-up of the country, with focused attention to improve maintenance programmes for waste collection for inner-city, heavily-populated residential/commercial areas of New Providence;

g) putting in place an enhanced maintenance programme for public parks, public cemeteries, road verges and public beaches throughout the country;

h) undertaking, with the assistance of appropriate international consultants, studies on the solid waste disposal needs of New Provi- dence, Harbour Island and Bimini, where inadequate solid waste dis- posal facilities pose health risks, and by commencing the upgrade of each of those facilities;

i) commencing, following a study undertaken with the assistance of the US Army Corps of Engineers, a programme to improve and put in place and maintain drainage wells and catchments in densely populated low-lying areas of New Providence plagued with seasonal flooding, such as in the "Over-the-Hill" area, Pinewood Gardens and Elizabeth Estates;

j) continuing to review and to en hance programmes to promote kind- ness to animals, to improve canine control, and to properly monitor, supervise and regulate the operation and management of all captive animal facilities, including marine mammals and fish in The Bahamas.

During its second term an FNM Government will:
  • Expand BEST to better equip it to carryout its full mandate as the environmental focal point of The Bahamas.
  • Ensure the coordination, through BEST, of the approval process for land development and construction so as to bring the focused professional attention of all relevant government agencies (the Department of Environmental Health Services, the Department of Physical Planning and the Town Planning Committee and the Building Control Unit of the Ministry of Public Works, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Fisheries) to bear on all development schemes proposed in The Bahamas prior to final approval.
  • Improve and finalize BEST guidelines for Environmental Assessment Impact processes and procedures.
  • Require that all major development schemes, whether by international or Bahamian investors, include environmental impact studies as a part of their application.
  • Develop a policy to ensure regular monitoring, quality control and enforcement of laws for the protection of our key environmental resources: fresh water, marine resources, agricultural lands and general environmental quality.
  • Ensure the completion of a new land-use plan for The Bahamas.
  • Enact Forestry Legislation to provide for the protection and sustainable development of the forestry resources of The Bahamas.
  • Enact legislation, already drafted, to regulate and control the demolition of hills and/or excavation of ground, beyond established quantities; and to prohibit the removal of old growth trees or the filling in of mangrove swamps or other wetlands without submission and approval of environmental impact studies.
  • Use Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to complete the Bahamian Biodiversity Data Management Project and to log all existing information on Bahamian natural resources on a master "Metadatabase".
  • In close consultation with The Bahamas National Trust, evaluate the National Park System in The Bahamas to determine what gaps exist in habitat conservation which ought to be addressed to ensure better protection of our natural resources.
  • Review Bahamian legislation to determine Acts requiring amendment and areas requiring new legislation to provide for the implementation of policies to protect and enhance the environment.
  • Expand the "cyber-technology", introduced in a pilot programme at the Government High School during 1996, to other government operated schools to expand opportunities to increased numbers of students to become exposed to, and familiar with, Internet and "Web" technology.