The purpose of the fund is to ensure sustainable financing into perpetuity for the management of The Bahamas National Protected Area System (BNPAS).
The Bahamas Protected Area Fund (BPAF) was established in 2014 by an Act of Parliament. The purpose of the fund is to ensure sustainable financing into perpetuity for the management of The Bahamas National Protected Area System (BNPAS). Protected areas (PAs), include those established by the Government of The Bahamas as well as areas established for various reasons inclusive of biodiversity conservation, protection of carbon sinks, water resources, wetlands and blue holes, degraded or threatened ecosystems as well as those areas established to aid in mitigating for and adapting to climate change under relevant multilateral environmental agreements or international conventions. BPAF is the Registrar of 123 PAs across The Bahamas.
In 2008 the Government of the Bahamas outlined its commitment to preserve the Bahamian marine and terrestrial environments by meeting the targets established by the Convention on Biological Diversity Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) for 2010 and 2012, and to effectively conserve at least 20% of the near-shore marine resources across The Bahamas by 2020. The Government also committed to a minimum of 50% of existing marine and 50% of existing terrestrial national parks and protected areas being effectively managed by 2020. In 2012 a Master Plan for BNPAS was finalized that identified the future assessments necessary to strengthen the national system including those related to equity and benefits sharing and governance. It built on the components of the master planning process completed over a 5-year period which included the 2008 Ecological Gap Analysis, Management Effectiveness Assessment, Capacity Action Plan and Sustainable Finance Plan. BPAF is an output of the latter.
The Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) also started in 2008 through the cooperation of a group of Caribbean governments, The Nature Conservancy and the German bank, KfW. In 2013, Caribbean governments involved in the Initiative, including the Bahamas, committed to protect and conserve 20% of the marine and coastal resources by 2020. The Initiative led to the establishment of a Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) – capitalized with funds from the German Government, Global Environmental Facility and The Nature Conservancy. The CBF aids in sustainable financing of CCI goals in member countries, pursuant to certain eligibility requirements, one of which is the establishment of a conservation trust such as the BPAF and a new financing mechanism to generate annual funding flows for the management of protected areas. BPAF and the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund has since executed a Partnership Agreement. Annual disbursements from this partnership support the Fund’s grant-making program.
BPAF is the only NGO in The Bahamas that supports both NGO and Governmental priorities. Grantees include the Bahamas National Trust, Bahamas Undersea Research Foundation, Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization, FEM STEM, Friends of the Environment, Waterkeepers Bahamas, The Forestry Unit, the Department of Marine Resources and the University of The Bahamas.
In the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the Fund provided immediate on-the-ground support for assessments and restoration including parks restoration, freshwater regeneration, mangrove ecosystem restoration, native plants restoration, dolphin recovery, hurricane debris removal, solar integration and efforts to combat Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, which is devastating brain corals at an alarming rate across the archipelago. Funding for this Special Recovery Grant was provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Federal Bank (KfW), under the administration of the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund.
BPAF Grants Funding Priorities for 2023-2026 include the reduction of threats to biodiversity and improvements in climate resilience through adaptation. In addition to supporting the development and implementation of protected area management plans, the Fund will target proposals that seek to improve the detection, abatement and monitoring of threats to biodiversity – including the impact of hurricanes, invasive alien species and pollution, and the use of nature-based and ecosystem-based solutions for adaptation. In addition, it will also support the incorporation of adaptation measures into island environmental plans to guide island-specific development. The Fund will also focus on improving the technical proficiency of stakeholders in the areas of ecosystem restoration, monitoring and evaluation, grants administration and project management.
The Fund is the only NGO in the English-speaking Caribbean with official Observer Status at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This status provides the Fund with direct access to information plus rights to lobby for climate change matters globally. The status also improves connections to technical and other support from NGOs in the broader marine and conservation finance environments. For the past two years, BPAF has provided financial support for the Regional Conference of Youth for Caribbean SIDS.
On November 20, 2023, the Fund with the Bahamas’ Ministry of Tourism, Aviation and Industry and the Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association, will launch the Mission for Mangroves (M4M) Initiative. The initiative is a regenerative nature-based experience that will also support sustainable livelihoods on the island of Grand Bahama, which was significantly impacted by Hurricane Dorian. It is anticipated that the model will be replicated on other islands across the archipelago to stimulate both economic and environmental recovery.
BPAF sits regionally in the Caribbean Sustainable Finance Architecture, which is managed by the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund. Seven trust funds within this architecture are currently developing a regional project designed to generate funding to support the region’s Nationally Determined Contributions. Locally, the Fund sits on both the National Biodiversity and Climate Change Committees.
BPAF is managed by a diverse and independent Board that holds executive control and management of its operations. Its assets are primarily managed by an external investment firm. Its operating structure and practices are based on international best practices for conservation trust funds developed by Conservation Finance Alliance.