Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
BGCI Member: Yes
ArbNet Accredited: Level II
About the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
Located in Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera, the Levy Preserve is operated by the Bahamas National Trust and funded by the Leon Levy Foundation. It was developed by Shelby White, trustee of the Foundation, in honour of her late husband, Leon Levy. The Preserve is a living part of Bahamian history. It is the first national park on the island of Eleuthera. It is an environmental educational centre as well as a facility for the conservation of native plants and trees.
The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve is the fulfillment of the vision of longtime residents Leon Levy and Shelby White, who loved the natural environment and way of life on Eleuthera. After Leon Levy’s death in 2003, Shelby White wanted to celebrate her husband’s devotion to the island while contributing to a better future for all Eleutherans.
Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
PO Box EL-25151
Eleuthera 00000 Bahamas
Primary Email: email@example.com
Caribbean Dry Forest Restoration in The Bahamas
The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve is a 13.5-hectare garden on Eleuthera that showcases the native flora of The Bahamas. The site has a native plant nursery for trees to do forest restoration projects and implement Target 8 of the GSPC. The LLNPP is working to restore all areas that are not actively used for display beds, buildings, and pathways into Caribbean Dry Forest. Currently, ~ 1.0 hectare has been fully restored utilising over 50 species of native trees. The Preserve has also completed a forest restoration project in New Providence at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.
The Bahamas is a low-lying archipelago that while made up of many islands, across a large distance, most are small in size. The largest islands in the archipelago are dominated by Pine Woodlands with little available habitat for Caribbean Dry Forest. The majority of the islands with Caribbean Dry Forest are small and/or very narrow. Caribbean Dry Forest is an ecosystem under extreme threat due to its relatively small habitat area and a long history of human alteration for farming and resource extraction. While the Caribbean region is considered a biodiversity hotspot, natural areas continue to be degraded with a concurrent loss in biodiversity. As an ecosystem, it is considered to be globally rare and endangered. In The Bahamas, throughout most of its range, the disturbed habitat has also been invaded by non-native invasive species such as Casuarina equisetifolia, Schinus terebinthifolius, and Leuceana leucocephala. The LLNPP has undertaken as part of its mission the creation of a native plant nursery producing a large range of tree species. On the Preserve the goal has been to return degraded areas to natural conditions and use them as a showcase for how restoration in the Bahamas can be done.
Parking lot from Welcome Center Trail in 2009 at The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
The LLNPP wanted to develop a native tree nursery and have a diverse set of tree stocks for restoration projects at the Preserve, on Eleuthera and in The Bahamas. Starting in 2014 growing natives from locally sourced seed our nursery currently has available 75 species of trees, shrubs, and vines including 15 endemics. One of the main reasons for the development of tree stocks is that at the LLNPP there were ~2.5 hectares of heavily degraded lands that had been previously used for farming and as a facilities area for a local hotel. The area had a lot of non-natives, human debris, and open grass areas. The goal was to restore as much of the degraded areas to functioning Caribbean Dry Forest to create habitat and act as visual breaks within the landscape. From 2010 through 2016 ~0.75 hectares were restored using both purchased tree stocks and plants from the Preserve nursery system. As part of a Phase III expansion in 2019 an additional 0.25 hectares has been restored with additional areas to be planted in 2020. In furthering the Preserve’s outreach program, a project was started with the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas in New Providence to develop a 0.25-hectare sculpture garden using native trees. Over 750 trees of 50 species were planted on the site over a two-year period (2016-2018). Additionally, to encourage the use of natives in landscaping and to increase knowledge of the native trees of the Bahamas, an “Adopt a Native Tree” school program was established. The LLNPP works with schools to identify areas that natives can be planted and then provides trees for the students to plant. The first set of trees was planted in summer 2019 at a local middle school on Eleuthera.
Parking lot from Welcome Center Trail in 2019 at The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
For more information about this project please contact Ethan Freid.