• Piping plover. photo: Scott Hecker

    Protection and Restoration of Piping Plover Habitat in the Bahamas Archipelago

  • Wilson Plover nest. photo: Scott Hecker

    Protection and Restoration of Piping Plover Habitat in the Bahamas Archipelago

  • photo: Scott Hecker

    Protection and Restoration of Piping Plover Habitat in the Bahamas Archipelago

In Brief

Location:

The Bahamas Archipelago, Bahamas

Goal:

Protect and restore coastal beach habitat for migratory Piping Plovers, migratory shorebirds, and resident beach-nesting birds.

Conservation Value:

The 700 islands of the Bahamas archipelago provide a wintering area for about a quarter of the known wintering population of Piping Plovers and are important for other wintering birds and resident breeding birds including Roseate Tern, Wilson's Plover, American Oystercatcher, Least Tern, and Bridled Tern.

Threats:

Key threats to Piping Plovers and other beach-using birds are from habitat destroying Australian pine (Casuarina equisetifolia), which is invading beach areas right down to the water, and from human disturbance (boaters, beach-goers, pets, ATVs).

photo: Conservian

Actions & Results:

In 2016 and 2017, Conservian partnered with the Bahamas National Trust to launch its site-by-site approach to restoring and protecting key shorebird sites, beginning in the northern Bahamas. This project is building local capacity for coastal stewardship with hands-on conservation actions. Since 2016, ICFC has supported these efforts and plans to continue until both human disturbance and the invasive Australian pine are under control at all key areas of shoreline in the Bahamas.

  • Australian pine is being eradicated though girdling and herbicide injection, with related training of Bahamian parks staff for a multi-year eradication program.
  • Biologists and volunteer crew travel to key sites aboard a 75-ft research schooner and work with the Bahamas National Trust, BirdsCaribbean, local partners, and volunteers. Targeted sites include national parks and Important Bird Areas of the Bahamas.
  • Signage is erected to designate restricted shorebird areas and address site-specific issues such as pets, vehicles, boat landings, prohibited mechanical beach-raking and cleaning practices, and limits on the use of beach furniture.
  • Data is collected on beach-nesting bird abundance, distribution, habitat use, and human-caused disturbance.

Project Field Partner:

Conservian Coastal Bird Conservation in partnership with the Bahamian National Trust

Size of Area Involved:

All important sites within the entire 8,573 km2 Bahamas.

Cost:

Cummulative spending 2016: $49,159 and ongoing commitment in 2017 budgeted: US$59,100 

Support this project

We gratefully acknowledge support for this project in 2016 from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which protects piping plovers at various sites across Canada.

In More Depth...

Project Partners and Personnel

Our partner Conservian Coastal Bird Conservation with project leader Margo Zdravkovic. For this project, Conservian is working with volunteers, the Bahamas National Trust, and BirdsCaribbean.

Field crew, 2016

Background

Most of the Bahamas shorebird habitat remains unmonitored and unprotected from human-caused disturbance due to lack of resources and funding. There is an urgent need to begin monitoring, protection and restorative actions for shorebirds as these imperiled species are enduring ever-increasing, human-caused disturbance and habitat loss. Invasive Australian pine is of particular concern in the Bahamas and is present on the majority of the islands. The pine destabilizes coastlines and is highly destructive to native beach habitat and beach-dependent species.

In 2015, ICFC's field partner, Conservian, conducted aerial surveys to identify priority sites as a basis for beginning a multi-year conservation effort.

Actions

2016 results:

  • 25 priority shorebird sites posted
  • 20 Bahamian volunteers participated in posting to protect shorebird/seabird sites
  • 6 local Bahamian volunteer stewards trained and monitoring shorebirds at 9 sites
  • 6 Bahamian government and national park staff were trained in invasive Casuarina pine control
  • Casuarina control was carried out at two Bahamas National Park sites

Work will continue in 2017.

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