Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve

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Bahamas - Eleuthera - Governors Harbour

Institution Code:

International Agenda Registration: No

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.

Main Address:
Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve
PO Box EL-25151
Governors Harbour
Eleuthera 00000 Bahamas

Telephone: 242-332-3831
URL: www.levypreserve.org
Primary Email: efreid@bnt.bs

Staff Details

  • Director's Name: Heidi Johnson
    Curator's Name: Ethan Freid
    Plant Records Officer's Name: Ethan Freid
  • Total Staff:
    Horticultural Staff Number: 5
    Educational Staff Number: 1
    Research Staff Number: 1
    Administration Staff Number: 4

About the Garden

  • Institution Type: Botanic Garden
  • Status
  • Status: Private: Yes
    Status: State: Yes
    Status: Educational: Yes
  • Date founded: 2011
  • Physical Data
  • Natural Vegetation Area: Yes
    Natural vegetation area: Size: 11 Hectares
  • Landscaped Area: Yes
    Landscaped Area: Size: 1 Hectares
  • Total Area: 12 Hectares
    Latitude: 25.1881025
    Longitude: -76.2146017
    Annual Rainfall: 1350 mm
    Altitude: 0.00 Metres
    Total area of shadehouses: 120 Metres

Features and Facilities

  • Herbarium: No
    Arboretum: No
  • Micropropagation/ Tissue Culture Facilities: No
    Seed Bank: No
    Published Plant Catalogue: Yes
    Computer Plant Record System: Yes
  • Open to public: Yes
    Retail Outlet: Shop: Yes
    Retail Outlet: Plant Sales: Yes
    Disabled access: No
  • Number of Visitors: 5400

Plant Collections

  • Accession Number: 241
    Cultivation Taxa Num: 60
  • Special Collections:The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve uses BG-Base for its accessioning database. Collections are primarily from seed. LLNPP collection policy is to collect only native species with a priority on those species that are endemic to the Bahamas.
  • Invasive Species Monitoring: Yes
    Invasive Species Policy: Yes
    Plant Collection Policy: Yes

Conservation Programmes

  • Conservation Programme: Yes
    Medicinal Plant Programme: No
    Ex Situ Conservation Programme: Yes

Research Programmes

  • Conservation - Biology: Yes
    Ecology: Yes
    Ecosystem Conservation: Yes
    Education: Yes
    Restoration Ecology: Yes
    Systematics and Taxonomy: Yes
    Sustainability: Yes
    Land Restoration: Yes

Education Programmes

  • Visitor/Education Centre: Yes
    Education Signs in Garden: Yes
    Public Lectures/Talks: Yes
    Education Booklets/Leaflets: Yes
    Guided Tours: Yes
    Permanent Public Displays: Yes
    Courses for School Children: Yes
    Courses for University/College Students: Yes
    Education Programme: Yes

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