Biodiversity is integral to our coral reef and mangrove ecosystems. In celebration of #WorldBiodiversity day we are highlighting the importance of biodiversity of our Bahamian coral reefs. Coral reefs are teeming with a variety of species that help keep this ecosystem balanced and healthy.
Coral reefs have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet—even more than a tropical rainforest. Occupying less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of marine life. Coral reefs provide protection from storms, and generate income for tourism and fisheries. The Bahamas is home to 35% of all coral reefs in the Caribbean.
Coral Reefs are under threat from human impacts such as climate change, pollution, invasive species, coastal development and overfishing. 80% of live corals have died in the last 50 years. BREEF works to protect coral reefs through restoration, education and by influencing policy.
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is proud to announce
Eliana Bowe, age 11 from St John’s College is the winner of the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) National Competition.
The winning photo entry “Is it better in The Bahamas?“ calls attention to one of the leading threats to coral reefs, pollution. Ms. Bowe captures a current photo of land-based garbage just footsteps away from the shoreline.
Ms. Bowe received a brand-new GoPro HD camera gifted by BREEF to support her future in
environmental reporting. She will now represent The Bahamas in the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment International Competition hosted by the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE).
BREEF commends all of the YRE participants for submitting their articles and photos. Entries focused on various real-time issues such as the effects of climate change in The Bahamas, biodiversity loss, and pollution.
The YRE Programme aims to empower students aged 11-25 to take a stand on environmental
issues they feel strongly about. It gives them a platform to call attention to these issues through
writing, photography, or video. There are more than 350,000 young reporters in 45 countries
across the world.
Speaking on behalf of the YRE programme in The Bahamas, Allison Longley, National Operator for the Young Reporters for the Environment, said, “ The YRE programme allows a platform for young people to give nature a voice in such a fun and creative way. The YRE National Competition is the pinnacle of the programme however throughout the year students have an opportunity to connect with the marine environment first-hand through snorkel field trips and mangrove walkabouts.
When asked what motivates her to protect nature, Eliana Bowe stated, “ I love my country and its beautiful water. It’s important to take care of our marine environment. I am passionate about the ocean because I don’t want to see the fish go extinct.”
The Young Reporters for the Environment programme was launched in The Bahamas with the support of a grant from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme. Additional support has been provided by Rolex and Lombard Odier & CIE (Bahamas) LTD to enable children around The Bahamas to get involved with the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and take part in the international competition.
To learn more about the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and how you can get involved, please visit www.breef.org.
Photo 1; Eliana Bowe’s winning photo entry focuses on pollution.
Photo 2; Eliana Bowe, age 11, St. John’s College winner of the 2022 Young Reporters for the Environment National Competition.
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation ( BREEF) kicked off Earth Week by hosting a Snorkel and Underwater Cleanup this past Saturday April 16, 2022 at Saunders Beach.
During the event participants learned about fish identification, threats to coral reefs and how to snorkel for the very first time.
Allison Longley, BREEF’s Outreach and Education Officer stated, “ Earth Day is a wonderful reminder for everyone to take a moment and appreciate the beauty of The Bahamas, in particular the coral reefs and the many things that they do to sustain our way of life. It’s vital that we connect our youth first-hand to the marine environment so they too can understand the importance of protecting the coral reefs that protect us.”
Heather Brockbank, a BREEF intern in the Bahamas Environmental Stewards Scholars (BESS) programme, supported the event and stated, “Having the opportunity to indulge in marine ecosystems and help guide the youth to see the wonders of the underwater world is a rewarding experience for all and helps to bring knowledge and joy of marine ecosystems to the community as a whole”.
This event was a part of BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) programme.
To learn more about how you can get involved and participate in the next upcoming event please visit www.breef.org.
Photo 1; Heather Brockbank, BREEF intern and BESS Scholar teaching snorkelers about fish identification.
Photo 2; Snorkelers enjoying the event.
Photo 3; Snorkelers taking action to combat plastic pollution by cleaning up garbage from the ocean.
A “Mobile Outdoor Classroom” on board a brand-new fully electric vehicle was launched on Wednesday February 9th, by the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) as part of their ongoing efforts to make marine environmental education safe, fun and engaging.
The electric outdoor classroom vehicle, soon to be outfitted with solar panels, was donated to BREEF through a strategic grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio welcomed the initiative as a groundbreaking and positive development for amplifying messages on the environment and integrating the population into sustainable development efforts. “I congratulate BREEF for acquiring a sustainable mode of transportation using sustainable energy resources to reinforce public education related specifically to marine conservation and biodiversity and renewable energy. I am encouraged by the role of young people in this effort and encourage them to remain vocal and creative in advocating for change that matters,” she said.
Educational resources on marine biodiversity and conservation, renewable energy and sustainable development will be delivered aboard the mobile classroom to local schools and field study sites across New Providence, through BREEF’s “Young Reporters for the Environment: Giving our Marine Environment a Voice” project, also funded through the GEF SGP/UNDP grant.
BREEF Executive Director, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert acknowledged the support and stated: “As an archipelago, The Bahamas is dependent on a healthy ocean that sustains lives and livelihoods. BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment helps inspire young people to become active stewards of the waters around us and active participants in the sustainable Blue Economy. This new electric vehicle allows us to not only take students to the ocean, but bring the ocean to students.“
During a launch event at Delaporte Beach executed as a fresh air classroom session, discussions on Renewable Energy, Climate Change and Coral Reefs were led by the BREEF joined by students from the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and executives from UNDP/GEF SGP. Students learned more about the importance of preserving and protecting the marine environment to include the need to shift towards more sustainable development and renewable energy.
Speaking on behalf of the Young Reporters for the Environment, National Operator, Allison Longley noted that
“87 percent of human-produced carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels. It is important for small island nations like The Bahamas to make the shift towards alternative energy sources to help mitigate the ongoing global climate crisis.”
BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment programme in The Bahamas, is designed to empower young people to effectively communicate about environmental issues and give the ocean a voice.
During the outdoor classroom session students were asked what motivates them to protect our marine environment.
Makhi Gray, age 9, responded “I love the water and seeing all the fish, I don’t want to see them going extinct. Fish are important too; they keep our coral reefs healthy by cleaning the algae off of them.”
The debut of the electric vehicle classroom further empowers the young people to make learning about solar energy more fun and support the nation’s goals to embrace alternative energy sources.
The Bahamas has pledged to “fully embrace” the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to include the nation’s Energy policy to derive 30% of energy needs from renewable sources.
Students interested in learning more about The Young Reporters for the Environment Programme and how to register can call BREEF’s office at 242-327-9000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo 1: Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative ( Right) passing the keys to the electric vehicle to Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, BREEF Executive Director. Electric Vehicle donated to BREEF through a strategic grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Photo 2; Group photo of BREEF officials with some of the students that attend the Outdoor Classroom experience.
Photo 3; (Left to Right) Deon Stewart Global Environment Facility National Coordinator, Casuarina McKinney-Lambert BREEF Executive Director, Denise Antonio, UNDP Resident Representative, Allison Longley, Young Reporters for the Environment National Operator.
Photo 4; Bahamian Environmental Steward Scholar ( BESS) Abigail Rolle demonstrating to the class how to measure a Queen conch.
The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) is pleased to announce the disbursement of $6275.55 raised through a joint Children For Children Campaign with the Foundation For Environmental Education (FEE). The campaign was initiated in November 2019 in response to hurricane Dorian to support severely impacted Eco-Schools Bahamas students and teachers in Abaco and Grand Bahamas.
“Though born out of adversity, the Children for Children campaign united the global Eco-Schools network with the children of The Bahamas not only to show that they care but to lend their financial support to the ongoing recovery of children affected by Hurricane Dorian. We greatly appreciate the compassion of children around the world and their efforts to help children in The Bahamas recover from Hurricane Dorian, ” says Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, Executive Director of BREEF.
During the campaign, BREEF and FEE mobilized their global network of 70 countries and 19.5 million children to unite children from around the world to promote empathy for affected Bahamian children, raise awareness of Climate Change, provide education on disaster resilience, and organize support in cash for the replacement of educational resources and materials for the 12 affected Eco-Schools in Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Students from an Eco-School in Spain and the Czech Republic made videos that were shared on the Young /reporters for the Environment (YRE) social media platforms. Students from the Escola da Colina Educação Infantil e Ensino Fundamental in Brazil made and sold handicrafts to raise money for the Children for Children Campaign. At Escola Básica e Secundária Dr. Serafim Leite in Portugal, students designed pencils, pins and bracelets that were sold as part of the fundraising in a combined Children for Children campaign that raised money for schools in Angola and The Bahamas. And, during the 2020-21 school year, the Wilhelm Bracke Comprehensive School in Germany held virtual sponsored fun-runs to raise money for the campaign.
The Abaco schools in the Eco-Schools Programme are Every Child Counts, Forest Heights Academy, Hope Town Primary School, Man-O-War Primary School, S.C. Bootle High School, Patrick J. Bethel High School, and Central Abaco Primary School. The Grand Bahama Eco-Schools include Bishop Michael Eldon School, Freeport Gospel Chapel School, Holmes Rock Primary School, Hugh Campbell Primary School, and Lucaya International School.
Cheques in the amount of $522.96 for each of the twelve Schools in BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas programme were presented by Eco-Schools Bahamas Steering Committee members, Ms. Olethea Gardiner of Keep Grand Bahama Clean, and Ms. Lianna Burrows of Abacos’ Friends of the Environment on behalf of BREEF.
Accepting on behalf of Lucaya International School, head girl Amelia Baptista said, “ I’m overjoyed, we’re blessed to be here to accept this donation. I think it’s going to be an incredible bolster for the plans that I know we already have but have been a little hesitant to put in motion for fear of lack of support.”
Forest Heights Academy’s principal, Jim Richards said, “THANK YOU for your support of FHA and our rebuild post-Dorian and we are truly appreciative!” According to Olethea Gardiner, Co-Chair of Keep Grand Bahama Clean, “ We know that it’s been hard. We know that schools would have lost a lot of their environmental resources that they worked so hard for, especially schools that would have already gone so far within their action plans and now have to rebuild. Every little dollar helps. So, this is just a token from schools around the world.
”BREEF is the official representative for the Foundation for Environmental Education in The Bahamas and has been running the Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme since 2009, inspiring Bahamian students towards excellence in environmental stewardship by promoting actions for creating a more sustainable world.
BREEF is a non-governmental, nonprofit Bahamian foundation concerned with educating our people about the value of and need for conserving our marine environment. BREEF promotes the conservation of the Bahamian marine environment that sustains our way of life.
BREEF’s Young Reporters for the Environment programme (YRE) and The Bahamas gains global recognition in the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UNDP publication highlighting youth led projects.
With SGP support, more than 60 students and youth were provided with opportunities to participate in field studies, national awareness competitions and photojournalism classes. The YRE programme allowed many students across the islands to go scuba diving and snorkeling to see coral reefs and experience the underwater marine environment for the first time. Through the programme, students were able to participate in national and international conferences, publish articles on marine issues in national newspapers and conduct interviews with local media. BREEF plans to expand these opportunities to more students on the outer islands and offer more frequent capacity building and training sessions.
“Through YRE’s extensive platform, my peers and I have definitely gained an acute awareness on protecting our ecosystems and the species in our native land. I have learnt so much from BREEF – from the significance of coral reefs to the ways I can help promote sustainability and conservation of our environment. These experiences opened new doors for me and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in BREEF events.” – Kaitlyn Archer, Young Reporter for the Environment student.
I am Promise Russell, and I am a Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholar. This programme aims to train youth like me into becoming the next generation of environmental stewards.
My love for the ocean existed from a young age. At the beginning of 10th grade I went on my very first snorkel in the ocean. The beautiful variety of marine life around me and the weightless feeling of the water enveloping my being made me fall in love with the oceanic world. Around this time I became a lot more aware of environmental issues surrounding us.
There’s a special beach in West Grand Bahama where I lived, my family would go there often. You can see many boats like cruise ships, mail boats and sadly oil tankers come in from here. Over time I saw ship traffic increase and people visiting the beach and tourism decrease.
I wonder why oil spills are tolerated, especially in our country where we rely on our reefs for protection and income. I realize it’s because most Bahamians do not know the effects of an oil spill to our marine environment and just how crucial our ocean is to our survival.
Oil is a deadly substance, I’m sure no one would want to ingest it accidentally while swimming.
So why would marine life? Bahamian waters are home to many species that beach for air, such as whales, turtles, and dolphins. Also, sea birds which sometimes dive into or lay on top of the water.
These animals do not know the dangers of ingesting oil until it is too late. It affects their immune system, their lungs, and their reproductive ability.
Tiny fishes can also accidentally ingest oil while trying to eat phytoplankton (microscopic algae/plants) and zooplankton (microscopic animals) which are on the surface of the water. If these marine animals do survive ingesting oil they are then eaten by a predator or bigger fish, which in turn are eaten by their predator. Soon, these infected species are eaten by us, the top of the food chain.
The Bahamas isn’t the only place oil spills can and have occurred. Because all of our oceans are connected we are all affected by any oil spill.
Also, we are experiencing more frequent and intense hurricanes, sea level rise, coral bleaching, blazing temperatures, and toxic food.
All these things are results of Climate Change and use of fossil fuels.
This is not an ideal situation if the health of the Bahamian people and the tourists in our waters are a priority.
One huge oil spill that happened in Grand Bahama during Hurricane Dorian was the oil spill from South Riding Point, which has still not been cleaned up completely.
At the time of this spill, I and many other Bahamians were not aware of just how devastating this was.
This week there is a gathering of world leaders called COP 26, which is short for Conference of Parties. Here leaders from across the globe will discuss issues stopping their countries from curbing emissions of CO2 and other harmful gases. This is one of the most important gatherings to Combat Climate change because those in charge of doing something about it can finally put their heads together and get it done. Our job is to make sure our leaders know and understand the importance of protecting our ocean and marine life.
How can we ask other countries for financial support to combat climate change when we are not using our provided renewable energy?
The future of our country is in our own hands and I hope that we will choose a sustainable future and not a disastrous one that we will not be able to come back from.
I implore my Bahamian people, especially my fellow youth, to protect the ocean that takes care of us. For when it is gone, it is gone for good.
No amount of money can bring back a dead ocean.
This is our responsibility as citizens of this nation and children of this earth.
Under the theme, Safeguarding Bahamian Biodiversity, the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) held its second virtual Eco-Schools Bahamas Coordinators Workshop to promote the importance of protecting biodiversity and environmental sustainability in The Bahamas. The Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme is part of Eco-Schools Global, the largest sustainable schools programme in the world, supporting student environmental leaders in over 68 countries.
During her opening remarks Casuarina McKinney-Lambert, BREEF’s Executive Director said, “To date, BREEF’s Eco-Schools Bahamas Programme has grown from seven schools in the pilot programme to 38 government and private schools including four schools that registered during theCovid-19 pandemic. Safeguarding Bahamian Biodiversity is a priority because it is essential to protecting our wellbeing and way of life in The Bahamas.”
Photo 1: Deep Creek Middle Schools student displaying her surgeonfish project in their School Without Walls programme
The annual workshop was convened again this year from October 6-8th and included three expert speakers who shared their knowledge and advice about Bahamian Biodiversity. Dr. Nick Higgs, Director of Research and Innovation, Cape Eleuthera Island School kicked off the event with a comprehensive presentation on “Marine Biodiversity.” Dr. Higgs concluded his presentation by saying, “One of the best things we can do to protect biodiversity is supporting the creation of Marine Protected Areas.”
Photo 2: Former Eco-Schools Coordinator, Mr. Patrick Douglas (1st right) and students of C. I. Gibson Senior High School keeping our oceans clean through beach clean ups
During day two, participants learned about the significant relationship between taxonomy and conservation from Dr. Ethan Freid, Botanist at The Bahamas National and Trust Leon Levy Plant Preserve, in Governor’s Harbour Eleuthera. Dr. Freid’s presentation entitled, “Plant Diversity and the Lucayan Archipelago,” highlighted the evolution of plants, and the importance of plant biodiversity globally and in the Lucayan Archipelago in particular (The Bahamas and The Turks and Caicos Islands).
Photo 3: Students at Bishop Michael Eldon School promoting gardening through a seedling sale
Dr. Selima Hauber, Agricultural Education and Outreach Officer for the Centre for Training & Innovation, One Eleuthera Foundation was the final keynote speaker on day three. Dr. Hauber’s inspiring presentation, “Re-embracing heritage crops to achieve food security and improve health in a warming climate,” examined the impact that lifestyle choices, like diet, has on our health and the benefits of growing and consuming Bahamian heritage crops. “It was a pleasure to share this information with our nation’s educators, and I am grateful to BREEF for its long-standing role in education!” said Dr. Hauber.
Photo 4: Harbour Island Green School students enjoying healthy lunches to help achieve their Healthy Living
Asked about what she thought of the event, Hazel Collette-Adams, Eco-Schools Bahamas’ newest coordinator from The Beacon School on Grand Bahamas said, “Excellent information-rich presentation. Awareness is the first step to ignite action to safeguard Bahamian biodiversity.”
According to Kevin Glinton, BREEF’s Education Coordinator and Eco-Schools Bahamas National Operator, “I am privileged to work with an awesome group of dedicated and inspiring educators and volunteers who continue to pursue excellence in environmental education and environmental stewardship in our children. Throughout this pandemic, they have shown their resilience and adaptability by embracing many challenges and turning them into opportunities for creativity and learning.”
BREEF has been running Eco-Schools in The Bahamas since 2009. Eco-Schools Bahamas is part of the international award programme developed in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education. The Eco-Schools Bahamas programme promotes environmental stewardship by creating an awareness of local and global environmental challenges. Through a simple, seven-step process Eco-Schools empowers children to take action for the environment by engaging them in fun, action-oriented learning, and community outreach activities. Presently, BREEF’s network consists of 38 government private schools spread over six islands of The Bahamas.
Schools interesting in learning more about Eco-Schools Bahamas and how to register can call BREEF’s office at 242-327-9000 or email email@example.com
BREEF and ALIV Bahamas teamed up to combat plastic pollution by conducting an impactful beach clean-up this past Saturday.
Plastic pollution in the ocean has become a global problem for both humans and marine life. BREEF’s community outreach programme assists organizations and schools get involved protecting and restoring the ocean.
Beach clean-ups are just one part of the solution. In order to achieve a true change we must stop the use of unnecessary single-use plastic items and packaging by opting for sustainable alternatives.
It is going to take all of us working together across private and public sectors along with the general public to see the change that’s needed to stop coastal and marine pollution for good.
For more information on how you can help protect and restore our ocean please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.